The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not a bird, not a plane, no it's Super Earth!

I always get absurdly excited about the prospect of frontier adventures. These days space is the place*, although of course we can only really think about it - look but don't touch.

I think my eagerness comes from the idea of being able to go somewhere new and create something from scratch. It's probably one of the reasons I'm so attracted to Battlestar Galactica's new series, and have really enjoyed other sci-fi stuff based around building new societies. Not to mention settler fiction, from times of Yore here in Aotearoa and overseas.

Recently I read a book by Anita Diamant called The Last Days of Dogtown. Although it's about the death of a small US town in the 1800s, it really struck a cord with me, even though it really shouldn't have given what I've just written above. But what was so attractive was the notion that as the town was dying new people could move in and just claim land, without upsetting anyone or displacing someone else, and then do with it whatever you could. Reading Diamant's words I would dream about what I would do if I had the time and the skills to shape and sculpt a piece of land, and the small society around it. I'd overcome difficulties, I'd come up with creative solutions, I'd become physically hardened and able to cope with myriad hardships.

Yes I'd probably not enjoy washing the laundry by hand, or having to kill my own meat. Which is where I come back to the sci-fi pioneering as my ideal. If we had the technology to travel to another planet in my life time then surely we would also be able to do all that labour saving stuff, whilst still maintaining sufficient ruggedness for me to feel I was creating something truly new and unique?

I can understand the spirit that drew my ancestors when they came across the world to this country they knew so little about. I can see the limitless potential of being there at the start, somewhere so new and raw that my footprints might be the first ever made in that spot. I can tell that I'll never get that chance, but I can still dream.

*I think Super Earth is a dumb name. I mean come on, it's a whole new planet, can we be a little more imaginative than just naming it after the one we already have? Astronomers, sheesh!

(Pic Via)

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