November 21, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

SF Trope: Humans are NOTHING special in the universe
Current Event: “The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist.
However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it.” [Editorial comment: “‘Suggest’?????? ‘Seems inconsistent’???????] from

There is no evidence of life anywhere in space – oh, there are hopes, dreams, protestations that “we can NOT be the only ones in this ENTIRE UNIVERSE” (this shriek is followed by a childish tantrum-like stomp of a foot. It has been uttered by the most distinguished of scientists and science fiction writers ever to walk this Earth – from Carl Sagan to David Brin) and frantic attempts by those who do not believe that Humanity is unique.

But there is NO PROOF that there is anyone of any sort anywhere in the universe but HERE.

Perhaps the best thing would be to just admit that we’re all there is and go from there.

Two paths are possible, the first one was followed to its logical conclusion by Isaac Asimov in his FOUNDATION classic tales – from FORWARD THE FOUNDATION through FOUNDATION AND EARTH.

The second seems to be happening before our very eyes:

Claudie Nicollier and Wubbo Fugelsang shielded their eyes against the glare of the rising sun. Claudie said, “Do you have any idea how ridiculous this looks? The symbolic 'dawn of a new era'?”

Wubbo snorted, rubbing the beard he’d allowed to grow over the last two weeks of the Human space program. He said, “They’re trying to fool themselves into believing that space belongs to the mechanical.”

Claudie grunted, grabbing his shoulder to steady her own hand. She said, “I joined the ESA to stop this. I did it for the glory of France!” Her shouted sounded more choked than triumphant. “Six years of training flushed away by an accident and bureaucratic panic.”

“You started training when you were ten?” he said, smiling. “I was born dreaming of space. My parents conceived me on the night of the last American shuttle launch on July 21, 2o11.”

“How romantic!” she whispered.

“And extremely uncomfortable, my older brother told me.”


“They were laying on a blanket on a beach in Florida about five kilometers from the Cape Canaveral launch pad.”

She slapped his shoulder, “We’re talking about the end of an era, Rub. How can you joke at a time like this?”


From their hiding place, they watched an Ariane VI rocket hurtle into space. Built entirely by robots, crewed by robots and guarded by robots, it was the International Space Union’s first shot since bringing the ancient International Space Station back to Earth. For the first time in eighty years, no Human lived anywhere but on the surface of the Earth.

The ISU and all its member nations had declared that space exploration could now begin in earnest with Humans safely at the center of a web of spidery lines of destinations from the first interstellar probe on the eighth year of its journey to Alpha Centauri B to the buckshot spheres of picobot satellites in orbit around all eight planets and fifteen moons.

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” said Claudie.

Rub lifted an eyebrow, standing up, stretching – they’d been crouched here since the night before, hiding in the jungle west of the Launch Center. “Who are you worried about then?”

“Noah and Natalie and Waqas and Chris...”

“The Americans?” he snorted, “What are you worried about them for? They had their chance to go to the stars. They blew it.”


He waited then said, “I hear a ‘but’ in there.”

She stretched as well, quite aware of his interest in her calisthenics. She said, “I’m worried because I heard them talking the other day. They have something – how do they say it – they’ve got something ‘up their sleeves’.”

Rub shook his head, “They don’t have the power to do anything anymore. They can’t even work themselves out of their Second Great Depression.”

“What I heard from them doesn’t require power just a little remodeling…”

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