Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Sad Commentary from Heinlein and Clark

At the recent Heinlein Society awards (presented at Cascadiacon to Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), I had the opportunity to watch a video of Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark being interviewd by Walter Cronkite on the day we first set foot on the moon. Talk about three brilliant men!

Yet the video made me cry. Literally.

Clarke and Heinlein, both visibly pleased and excited about the moon landing, talked about how such a historic event surely heralded an age without wars. How colonies would be established before the end of the century, made up of people who could see beyond such small things as world politics. Heinlein got a deserved standing ovation from the room (in 2005) when he mentioned that women could porbably fly starships as well as men. That, at least, has largely happened. Not to mention finding its way into much good science fiction (think Honor Harrington and Kris Longknife, for starters. That list is long.). But peace on earth would have been even better.

The hard part was that in 2005 we have no moon bases, a barely functional space station, an aging fleet of shuttles, and a plateful of wars and poor international politics. We have starvation and genocide.

The interview brought back the deep sense of hope that permeated the 1960's.

We need to access a deep well of the same.

We do have Burt Rutan and a fledgling commercial space industry, but we've probably spent more on weapons in space than we have on getting people there. But Burt Rutan is a start. Let's keep up hope.

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