Star Trek, Star Wars, or Zardoz?

What is humanities’ future in space if any?

On another list, the question was raised about the future of humans in space and several movie versions were suggested. My thoughts on these follow. If anyone wants to argue, take offense or agree, please feel free to comment.

I think the Star Trek vision is still too Earth bound, too reflective of our own forms and biases. The aliens in Star Trek, Whatever Generation are simply reflections of ourselves. They are not aliens. The Vulcans are simply the logical and rational sides of ourselves; the Klingons are our greedy and rapacious side, while all of the other aliens are simply character actors in morality plays.  It is a great series, but it is not particularly visionary.

Star Wars tries to be big, but ends up being small. It is Shogun in space.  Jedi-Samurai, endless intrigues with double and triple crosses, good guys become bad guys become good guys and so on. It is great fun but visionary about human space flight it is not.

Zardoz is a total downer. This is science fiction at its worst. It is The Sun Also Rises without the happy ending.

I see human space flight, exploration and colonization as the dawn of a new age. Those who go will be optimists. The kind of people who looked at the New World as an opportunity to be grasped rather than a mystery to be feared. We will take all of our faults and foibles with us, of course, but the tip of the spear will be sharp and we will embark on a great adventure. Those new folks, the lunar and Mars colonists, the ones born and raised there, will see the universe through different eyes. Where we see limits, they will see opportunities. I am quite optimistic. The only movie I can think of that captures this spirit isn’t science fiction at all, it is Centennial, a mini-series about the settling of a town in Colorado that begins with the Native Americans who settled there first, to the trappers and mountain men, the cattlemen, farmers and follows through to the present day. That is our future in colonizing the solar system.

3 comments

  1. Rick Kwan says:

    Well, it was my fault. In that other forum, in effect I asked how humanity is likely to turn out in the future. Movies and TV shows are reference points that the masses identify with. People expect me to paint a future that looks like Star Wars or Star Trek. In fact, I tend more toward the TV show Firefly or its movie counterpart Serenity.

    Firefly resembles a Western in space. Humanity is spread out across many worlds of a new star system. Advanced technology contrasts with struggle to survive by living off the land, or joining a small town devoted to a single industry like mining. In urban America, we take electric power and the energy production system behind it for granted. But for the settlers of a new land, energy production will be scarce.

    Nevertheless, there will be pioneers and their families that will go to settle new territories. They will hope the expected hardships give them a better life and more freedom than what the core system would otherwise allow. But they will struggle with scarce resources and have to adapt to what the land provides.

    Another amusing trait of Firefly/Serenity… a reflection of the competing superpowers of a recent century, they will speak a combination of English and Chinese.

  2. Rob says:

    I’ve been a science fiction reader and writer for most of my 77 years and have been delighted and disappointed with our earthly efforts. I think our (humanities) horizon will be deep space but for the immediate and near future we can probably obtain the best results from robotic explorations. We should have a city on the moon by now with all the money and effort we’ve wasted on constructing “craters” and tombstones on the Earth. Just why we don’t presently have exploration ships on the way to explore the moons of Jupiter and Saturn is not a mystery. We’ve wasted our money on destroying the Earth, but we’ve been doing that since the days of cavemen. (Ancient Rome too is a good example) We know now that we’re all of the same race, our DNA tells us that we’re all brothers and sisters. Clark wrote about “Childhood’s End” Isn’t it time we took his advice.

    Regards: Brothers and Sisters. Excelsior!

  3. Doug says:

    Excellent points by both of you. I will have to check out Firefly.

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