Originally Posted by Allen Tice
Currently, steady rotation or constant powerful rocket acceleration, which is very very very very expensive in terms of payload, are the only substitutes for earth gravity. Radiation in the long game is a big problem. Even long-term work as a high altitude airplane crew member has measurable extra cancer risk, on the low side yet quite real. FTL or faster-than-light travel is currently unachievable even in particle accelerators. There you have it. A huge rotating and thickly shielded space station ring might work, but every ounce of shielding has to come from somewhere. That is, its cost in terms of scarce resources is quite high.
The takeaway for me is that ó except perhaps for (ugh) military goals with their potential for widespread damage to things on the earthís surface, space exploration is best left to remotely operated machines.
An important thing is not to become a fool. Idealism is great, but itís hard to make it work in this really messy world on the large scale. Its like immediate family versus the outer world. They donít mix. Whatís right for one is wrong for the other. Iím well aware of the absolute need for military defense. Once, a good man even more of a pacifist than I, said to a bunch of antiwar young guys as a flight of Air Force jets roared overhead, ďThere goes our protection. Donít forget it.Ē
Space opera? Bah, humbug! For now, and quite a while, at least for civilians.
That's why its so important for me that science fiction should be remembered as fiction, and as more about its characters, its metaphors, its plots, than its science. You are of course totally right; so I think I look to science fiction (and fantasy) for the same things I look for in poetry, imagination to reflect our condition in new ways.