Sunday, 15 January 2017

"Nothing Succeeds Like Failure"

The first story in Poul Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 1984), "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure," is set before the end of the twentieth century and there is a Lunar base. (p. 24) Congressman Ashley "Uncle Scrooge" Stanhope states that national space programs were originally motivated by military and political rivalries which are declining because of bigger problems:

exhaustion of resources;
fuel shortages.

I disagree with the term, "overpopulation." If four of us in a car on a long journey find that we have only three packed lunches, then we say not that we have too many people but that we have too few lunches. Every extra mouth to feed is an extra pair of hands to work and population decreases as standards of living improve.

Stanhope, who is "...not a yut..." (p. 23) lists benefits of space technology:

weather satellites;
communication relays;
scientific knowledge.


only Earth is inhabitable without life-support;
extraterrestrial resources are too costly to transport;
each expedition brings back less new knowledge (?);
other agencies now handle the satellites -
- so why keep NASA?

An intellectually challenging agenda. Having read the book before, I know that, later in this future history, Terrestrial problems will be solved by wealth from the asteroids.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And it was Junius Harleman's persuading of powerful politicians like "Uncle Scrooge" Stanhope to agreeing to fund the gyrogravitics research program which finally developed an economically feasible means of space travel. And the really funny thing was that both the director of NASA and the Congressman intended this to be merely a face saving maneuver before quietly shutting down NASA.