I just finished a story by Martin L. Shoemaker called “Not Close Enough” in Analog magazine. It brought me to tears. Now think about what might have done such a thing. What makes a story, a fiction story bring me to tears?
I grew up during the space race. I watched as Armstrong stepped onto the moon, something I had dreamed about but never in my wildest dreams imagined we’d be able to watch it on TV! We were on our way. We true believers knew that space stations and moon bases were right around the corner. Mars would come soon, then missions to the asteroids and beyond!
Now forty years later NASA is a joke—a Muslim outreach organization! We buy trips to space from the Russians!
This story is about the stupidity of politically correct approaches to space exploration. It’s about characters that refuse to comply to the stupidity inflicted on them by a bureaucracy 20 light minutes away. (That’s millions of miles if you didn’t know.) And I found myself in tears. Why? Because we’ve lost the dream!
The shortsightedness of government and the “mundanes” has killed the dream. We should be on Mars! We should have colonies on the moon and at the LaGrange points. But we don’t—why? The irony to many of us is that other true believers support the very politicians that have killed the dream. They themselves are found to be short sighted, because they don’t get it. A welfare state can’t support a vigorous exploration program! Only a rich capitalist society can do that. We used to be that!
Hell! The Chinese are kicking our butts! They’re out capitalizing us!
We need a revolution against our welfare state if America is again going to excel in exploration again!
I am angry right now. I had forgotten the dream myself—or at least pushed it out of my thoughts for the mundane pursuits. But this brought it back, slapped me in the face with it. I cried because we have lost something bigger than all of us. We have lost the dream! Now how do we get it back?
"But no one can fully understand how difficult teaching in America’s
highest-need communities is until he or she personally experiences it.
When I solved engineering problems, I had to use my brain. When I solve
teaching problems, I use my entire being—everything I have. A typical
engineering task involves sending an email to a colleague about a
potential design solution. A typical teacher task involves explaining
for the fourth time how to get the variable out of the exponent while
two students put their heads down, three students start texting, two
girls in the back start talking, and one student provokes another from
across the classroom."