Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Return From Deep Space

Poul Anderson, Brain Wave (London, 1977).

When someone returns from a long interstellar journey, what has happened to Earth in their absence?

When Dan Dare returned after ten years, the Mekon had conquered the Solar System.
On a later occasion (I think), major centers of population had for some reason been evacuated so that he had the eery experience of returning to an unoccupied London and surrounding countryside.
Maybe that other British comics hero, Jet Ace Logan, had a similar experience?
A spaceship crew in Poul Anderson's After Doomsday returns to an Earth on which all life has been destroyed.
In Brain Wave, when Corinth and Lewis, long overdue, approach Earth but do not receive an immediate response to their radio signal, they wonder whether Earth still uses radio - progress before their departure had been so rapid that this is possible.

Eventually, they hear "'Hello, Star Ship 1.'" (p. 160)

- but it is "'...only a technician...'" (p. 161) who has responded. A small group of friends and acquaintances greets them on landing, not the big public welcome that you might expect for the first interstellar explorers. Earth has changed so that they "'...won't recognize the place. Things are changing so fast...'" (p. 161). One part of the change is that a much bigger and better spaceship is already being built. Space exploration would have continued uninterrupted even if they had not returned.

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