Posted on September 4th, 2018

Out of This World – Space Force – A Study in Science Fiction

The Space Force might sound like science fiction and in many ways it is. Writing off science fiction as a vehicle for entertainment alone does a great disservice to the genre. Readers would be hard pressed to pick up a science fiction novel that doesn’t, at the very least, dabble in speculation and humanities search for self-understanding in a vast universe.

At the heart of the genre is the ‘what if’ question. What if robots took over the world and destroyed their creators? What if there is a giant sea monster in the ocean that can take down a submarine? What if a government decides to take national hegemony to outer space? You’ve seen this before, Star Trek operates in this what if scenario. They may be exploring the galaxy, but they are a government vessel with a military hierarchy.

The Space Force is mobilizing!

Now is the time for our own what if question. What if we poured billions of dollars into a military space force? What feels like science fiction is now a reality and not for the first time. What did we learn from Reagan and the Star Wars? That space is expensive and presents challenges that only time and money can surmount. All of this to protect the United States from… aliens? Other nations? Ourselves?

We have enough land-based weapons to make military might a moot point. Then is it to show that we can militarize space, and if so, we must do it better then it’s been done before? By Cold War estimates, this will lead to more space militarization by our perceived enemies and another stalemate of power.

Back to science fiction/speculating on future events, we must now follow the money. Billions of dollars will go into companies that win these contracts. Companies who are struggling in the face of relative peace, from a US-centric perspective, will benefit from this arms race in space. We also get to flex our bulging muscles and point the pretty lady to the nearest bathroom as we stuff tax dollars down our pants. Win-win, right?

I’m no military strategist (surprise!), but I am an avid science fiction fan. I can tell you what science fiction is, most important however is what science fiction does. Whether in book or movie form, it distracts from the banality of life. It takes us to another world to see into the lives of non-existent people. What happens when it becomes too real, in our world with our people? While everyone else is entertained, science fiction enthusiasts have trepidations. Books and movies end, for better or worse. There are no endings in real life, just a series of events. We want a book to close and with a satisfying ending, even if it’s tragic. This book never seems to end yet it pulls at us, distracts us from life and never pushes us back into reality.

Does anyone else feel like the lines between reality and fiction are beginning to blur? I hope to see the credits roll before the action even begins, that the manuscript never makes it to the publisher. I hope for this because space is a place for science, not for fiction.

A shout out to Paul March-Russell and his article in The Conversation that led me down this meandering path.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163
katie@apollomapping.com

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