Sunday, 24 February 2013

Colonising The Belt

"Oregon was long behind him...the coasts where he had fished and the woods where he had tramped. No loss. There'd always been too many tourists. You couldn't escape from people on Earth. Cold and vacuum raw rock and everything, the Belt was better." (Poul Anderson, Tales Of The Flying Mountains, New York, 1984, p. 47)

Despite cold, vacuum and raw rock, the Belt was better than coasts and woods? Really? Some science fiction assumes that, given the chance, a significant number of people will willingly colonise the Moon or the Asteroids. Those celestial bodies will be good places for people with the right skills and aptitudes to explore and exploit but to live among cold, vacuum and raw rock?

As it happens, we know that these Asterites are possessed of a technology that will enable them to terraform even the most inhospitable lump of rock so their prospects are not uniformly bleak. Otherwise, if I had to live off Earth, I would want it to be inside a spacious orbiting habitat with plants, water and recycled atmosphere.

In Anderson's later Harvest Of Stars future history, the Selenarchs are at home in artificial environments on the Moon and in the Outer Solar System but that is because they are genetically adapted to live in lunar gravity plus which their knowledge, technology, energy sources, creativity and ingenuity enable them to transform their enclosed low gravity environments into places of wonder with open spaces, plants, birds and fountains.  

3 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    But, like Poul Anderson, also hope and believes a significant number of people within the right age range, knowledge, skills, etc., would be willing to leave an Earth more and more hemmed in with peopole, rules, regulations, laws, etc., more and more cramping them in what they can do. Even if only one percent of the US alone was willing and able to emeigrate, I still would consider that a significant number.

    It's my view that anger and frustration over having to live in the smothering cocoon of a buureaucratic welfare would in time become a danger threatening the stability or existence of the state. So, if a REAL space program finally opens up a new frontier, even socialists and liberals should welcome it as an outlet let off steam and drain away people who might other wise be most determined and able opponents. Anderson used that very idea as one of the motives why the World Federation allowed the Constitutionalists to emigrate to Rustum in ORBIT UNLIMITED.

    Sean

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  2. I hope that we can improve conditions on Earth, get some populations into self-sustaining space habitats and let anyone who wants to colonise the asteroids do that as well.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I agree. But I also believe that, in the long term, the only way we will ever get that kind of improvement on Earth is by opening up a new frontier OFF Earth. If not, my fear is we may end up with something like the bleak scenarios seen in "Murphy's Hall" or "In Memmoriam."

      Sean

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