Space, the beyond this Earth type, seems to be the flavour of the month.
Locally in Bristol there’s the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference 2013 will be hosted by Bristol CHAOS at the University of Bristol School of Physics on 23th and 24th February 2013. Full information can be found at http://ukseds.org/conference2013/, and all enquiries should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Speakers include Alan Bond, Chief Engineer of Reaction Engines Ltd, designers of the SKYLON space plane. Well we know why I have a fondness for the Skylon space plane… ahem… see my short story Neptune’s Angel for those that don’t… ahem…
There’s the two week Space Fiction at a Glance programme at the National Space Centre in Leicester, where various science fiction authors will be talking about their work… see here for programme running from 9th February to 24th February.
Now you may think we have a fairly good idea what we are likely to do in space over the next few centuries. Certainly we do for the very near future because the technology we’ll be using is in its developmental stages at this moment, but beyond about 2035, things could become very different. Yes I know we have the likes of David Brin, Ben Bova and Alastair Reynolds to show us the possibilities. They may be fun to read, exciting to enjoy, but that is all they are… possibilities.
So you say, fair enough… but these possibilities are going to be somewhere near the mark of what really happens.
Well… yes and no…
Every time I take a fresh look at what is in our backyard Solar System, I realise something new. It has an impact on the technology we will want and indeed in some cases need. Once that technology exists, it can be used for all sorts of other useful things… it’s a kind of chain reaction of technology development… one thing leads to another, which in turn induces a third… and so on. And it may even be put to serious good use on Planet Earth as well.
This has come very much to the fore in my mind over the last couple of weeks as I struggled to make sense of a new science fiction scene I’m writing, and believe me struggle was the right word. And whilst my writing doesn’t give the details of how this technology works, I’ve done enough work to make sure that in my mind it’s doable.
So what is this technology you ask… well it’s a combination of… no I’m not going to give away such details because I’m in the business of getting my stories and novels (yes the scene is from a new novel I’m writing – did I mention I was writing a new novel?) published. Aren’t I a horrible tease!
But it has a serious consequence… I’ll be reading a lot of medium term space fiction thinking they’ve missed this tech and its consequences, and therefore it will feel old hat to me. I suppose it’s one of the penalties of writing science fiction the way I do… sigh… sob… blub… and I did so used to enjoy them!