I chose physics as my major in university because it was my best subject in high school thanks to an excellent teacher, it seemed like an interesting field of study and I wanted to be a science fiction author and I thought it would help.
But by the time I graduated with a specialist in geophysics, I had stopped reading SF and was more interested in geo-politics than geophysics.
I think what turned me off SF was that as the moon launches faded and the baby boomers realized that they weren’t going to go to space, SF went distant, very distant. Novels like Dune took us eons into the future and our planet had nothing to do with it anymore. I loved Dune, but I missed the immediacy of Heinlein and the sense that this was all going to happen and very soon.
So I watched with fascination yesterday as history imitated fiction. Elon Musk is the real life version of Heinlein’s D.D. Harriman, the fictional entrepreneur who started a rocket program to get people cheaply into orbit, not just to make money, but because he believed it was humanity’s destiny to go forth from this planet and explore.
Yesterday Musk’s company, SpaceX, became the first private company to launch a space capsule into orbit and return it safely to Earth, a feat previously accomplished only by countries, not companies. Better yet, SpaceX intends to human rate their Dragon capsule. Musk’s stated intention is to provide cheap access to space for anyone.
He’s the absolute opposite of the evil Hollywood capitalist. He took the billion he made from Paypal to start a company to build electric cars and sunk everything else into SpaceX. He wants to do things to make life better for humans, and he wants to make money doing it. What a great combination!
So maybe I will write some sci-fi again one day, but my characters will be riding to space on SpaceX’s Falcon rockets, and they won’t be traveling through worm holes, or black holes. I suspect I’ll be accused of having little imagination, but what I really see is the future. I saw it yesterday.