Ron Rosenbaum

Moonwalk Reflections: Science Fiction Ruined Space Travel

At least for me. By the time Neil Armstrong mangled his lame prepared statement (As you all know it should have been “one small step for A man…” not “…for man”–otherwise it’s a redundancy), a moon voyage it wasn’t a “giant leap” for mankind anyway. Not if, like me and many others you’d read all of science fiction by then, a pre adolescent boy’s habit.

We’d already been to the stars, explored Isaac Asimov and Poul Anderson and A.E. Van Vogt’s galactic federations. We’d been to the moons of hundreds of planets. Guy walks on this moon? Big deal. About as thrilling as a trip to Costco after the wonders of sci fi warp-sped the imagination to the farthest nebulae in the furthest future. Trip to Mars? Been there, done that. (Of course I stopped reading sci-fi after puberty. Wonder why?)

Star Wars and Star Trek just put nails in the NASA coffin. (I’m no Trekie but mention is obligatory. I’ll take Galaxy Quest over any Star Trek anytime. Get it from Netflix and see why).

I actually went down to the Cape to report on the first shuttle launch and couldn’t have been more bored for the most part. I think that a large segment of the nation felt that way. Like the launch of an advanced garbage skow mainly used to do junior high science-fair projects in low gravity.

It’s so annoying to hear all the gung ho, rah-rah, “we need to get back into space again” hype. Our imaginaton and impatience made exploration of frozen gasball planets a big bore. Don’t waste the billions and trillions. Use the money to subsidize a new generation of sci fi writers. Or physicists who can answer the truly interesting questions about the universe: what happpened before the Big Bang and (related) why is there Something rather than Nothing in the universe? Why is there a universe in the first place? No tin can rocket is gonna help us with that.