Space Voyages In Science Fiction: Are we there yet?

There are plenty of fantastic science fiction books out there- so many in fact that they may be outnumbering the human population in the United States two-fold. Many people love to read them as if they’re taking a glance into the actual future. The stories give us insight into the possibilities for mankind, including flying cars, hologram communication, alien interaction, robot brothels (this one’s coming sooner than you think) and of course settlement onto other planets.

But the question is, could any of these far-fetched stories, like, say, planetary settlement, come true? And if they could, anytime sooner than we think? Even we humans aren’t sure what we’re capable of; Did Benjamin Franklin, the man who flew a kite in the sky to draw electricity, think that we would be able to send a man to the moon and explore what was beyond humanity’s scope? He may have but only in stories. But look where we are now compared to old Ben’s time; we’re sending people to the moon with a big old rocket ship. Ben could only put a key and a kite into the sky.

Of course there had to have been a dream of such exploration that Ben Franklin, or any other person of that time period, had. With the invention of books, those dreams, the what-ifs, could be recorded down on pages and shared with the public. Not only are authors of these ideas brilliant with their vision, but they also manage to keep the readers interested in the drama that may unfold in these alternate worlds where their idea flourishes.

So in truth science fiction authors are splendid visionaries. One of their golden rules of writing is to make their pages as close to credibility as possible. If they don’t (like writing about space unicorns), then they might as well step away from the genre altogether and into the separate dreamland of elves and dwarves. Science fiction is an art that gears more towards probable human complications and even philosophical visions, and as much as I respect fantasy authors like J.R.R Tolkien and even J.K Rowling, I’ll have to say that science fiction’s genre  influences more of the world’s future.

Such science fiction novels, like the works of  Kim Stanley Robinson, describe their own theories of the future of solar system settlement. Robinson’s novels, The Mars Trilogy, describes the human race leaving earth to make their first settlement into the darker and much colder solar system outside our cozy planet earth. The books are a great read, and highly recommended. What this prose also entails besides being a great entertaining story, is a lure to future anticipation and making readers think- could this be happening soon? Meanwhile scientists of today look at these books and begin drooling with inspiration for a new breakthrough. But referring back to the question- Could this happen anytime soon? Sooner than we think? Is Science fiction affecting the future of humanity as fast as we think it is?

Well, according to authors  Fredrick Jenet and Teviet Creighton, both writers from the University of Texas, the chances of travelling and inhabiting different galaxies and planets are very slim. Though the human race is progressing, it’s going to take far more than a decade or two for human inhabitation. We’re going to have to be advanced enough not only to establish high-tech spacecraft accessible for such travels, but to build a technological community for the right living conditions as well, which, without any of Earth’s natural resources, could be almost impossible.

The two authors state that although astrobiologists tell us the galaxy has no shortage of habitable worlds; with estimates from at least 1 every 10,000 stars to as many as 1 every 10 stars, the distance between them and our own world is too vast for any spacecraft of our time--and even for many years to come--to venture across. That said, voyages to other worlds may be on the waiting list for centuries to maybe a millenia.

Although planet settlement may be a long ways to go, I wouldn’t be so down in the dumps. Like I said before, the human race can be very surprising, and there’s no telling what might present itself that could change our way of life forever. I, for one, am particularly happy I won’t be seeing us pack our bags and leave mother earth for some cold and barren wasteland. I’ll take my worlds of alien invasion, rebellious robots, and even hovercars to the pages and the big screen, thank you very much.


Joseph Frare is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.frare@uconn.edu