Saturday, 28 January 2017

Generation Ships

What do the generations inside a generation ship (slower than light multi-generation interstellar spaceship) do? I disagreed here with the social policies inside one of Poul Anderson's fictional generation ships. The same issues are addressed in Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 1984).

The embarking crew are mostly ne'er-do-wells but their children are expected to rebel against them and to "'...grow up almost Spartan, chronically appalled at the behavior of their elders.'" (p. 274) There must be a minority of first-class experts to run the machinery and bio-systems and to direct social development. The ship is described as:

"'...a placid, isolated environment where the only challenges are those they make for themselves.'" (p. 273)

Again, I disagree. The ship is not isolated but surrounded by the universe which can be studied en route. The interior need not remain placid and indeed:

"This mobile planetoid has ample room for athletics, even for camping and hunting in the forests we have planted." (pp. 284-285)

There will be elaborate ceremonies to inculcate discipline and belonging. The Polynesians are cited as a personality type able to live an easy life without going soft while retaining the ability cope with problems. In previous posts, I have suggested this as the optimal kind of person to respond to the kinds of challenges faced by some of Anderson's characters.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I disagree with your disagreement. I think you are overlooking how MANY passengers, at least in the first generation, will feel isolated in a placid environment where the only challenges will be the ones they make for themselves. And I'm almost wholly convinced that one means of whiling away the time will be indulging in intrigues and factional politics. Because that is simply what human beings are like.