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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Space Travel, Space Opera


I've been reading Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon. It's fine tale in the vein of Flash Gordon: heroes  villains, space ships, pirates, battles, intrigue, everything you could want in a space adventure. The hero, being as this is an Elizabeth Moon story, is of course a heroine. I've been wondering if I prefer stories about women over stories about men, since so many of the ones I enjoy have female leads. But I think it is just having a smart, tough character. Goldie Hawn may have been famous, but I always hated the characters she played, the ditzy blonds. I never saw the attraction. Anyway, back to the space lanes.
    The action in this story always takes place in a planetary system. Transit between stars is done in FTL (Faster Than Light) mode and takes days or weeks to complete, during which you are incommunicado with the rest of the universe. This time passes in a sentence or at most a couple of paragraphs before we enter the next star system and the action picks up again.
    Here on Earth we have a bunch of people who are dreaming of space travel (me included), and what are we really dreaming of? Being locked in a metal box for years on end, with no fresh air, no sunshine, no wind, no weather, no fresh food. Much like prison. I spend a great deal of my time down in my office in the basement, surfing the net, clicking away on the keyboard. I do go outside occasionally, though during the spring I usually regret it because of my hay-fever  Still, a little variety is nice. Not being able to leave this room would get old very quickly.
    If we are not going to drive ourselves crazy, we will need to find something to keep ourselves occupied. We will also need a belief system that will keep us focused on our occupation, a belief that what we are doing is really important. Or maybe not. Maybe we could just play video games. After all, isn't that how Captain Picard defeated the Borg? He gave them Windows Solitaire and it consumed all of their processing power and brought their aggression to a halt.

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