I love a good space opera, as longtime readers may have gathered. True Fact: I was the youngest person to ever get a library card in the county where I still live, at least on the date that I got it (I was four), and the first thing I checked out was something called Five Against Venus. (Poor Venus. It seems unfair.) I ate and drank this kind of thing for years; when Star Trek finally showed up, I was one of the people saying “Damn! What took you so long?”
Only I am sixty-something now, and even though I just rewatched the fifth season premiere of Babylon 5, and have a couple of Star Trek novels in the hopper, I have this misgiving: well: we evolved at the bottom of a 6000-kilometer gravity well that embraces and cudgels our bones and flesh every second, subject to the daily visitations of the Sun and the light and traction of the Moon, suffused with the electromagnetic field of the planet. The absence of any of these — experimenters have studied the effects of living on the space station, or of the extinction of dawn and dusk cycles — alter our immune systems, our hormone ebbs and flows, our experience of existence.
My juvenile passion yearns for a future in which, should we choose, we might venture into the galaxy with only splendid engineering between us and stellar coronae. The gut feeling I get when my knees are on the wet dirt of my back yard — or when early light outlines my windows — makes me wonder if the human organism can survive without the suck and massage and lightshow issuing from the planet and its place in the solar system.
Maybe we need to learn what binds us to our home before we leave it.