Post by Johnny1A Post by James Nicoll Post by Johnny1A Post by Default User Post by Lynn McGuire
“Heinlein Was an Optimist” by Sarah Hoyt
Yes, he was. Heinlein thought that we would have regular Lunar
transport service by now.
Would any SF writer from the time extrapolate that we'd send multiple
manned missions to the Moon in the 60s-70s, then just stop and switch
to unmanned only?
Actually, that's an interest thing.
Back in the Golden Age years, SF writers tended to put manned space
flight fairly well off in the future, on a human scale. Often the 21C
was cited for the early days of it, though RAH has Delos Delano Harriman
kick start it earlier than its natural time. One of my favorite
examples is the old and classic SF film _Forbidden Planet_, which in the
intro puts manned flight to the Moon in the last decade of the
twenty-first century, followed soon after by extensive interplanetary
In the final decade of the 21st century, men and women in rocket ships
landed on the moon. By 2200 AD they had reached the other planets of our
solar system. Almost at once there followed the discovery of hyperdrive
through which the speed of light was first attained and later greatly
surpassed. And so at last mankind began the conquest and colonization
of deep space.
Thus far no women have been to the Moon.
Yeah, you could technically make it fit, but it's not what they meant.
Post by James Nicoll
FB is also notable for how slow the ftl is, less than 20 C.
My impression of the movie was that star flight was still relatively new, they've had it for a few decades, but no more. They've got FTL communications, too, but it's really clumsy and difficult to use, they have to dismantle part of their drive to construct the communicator, and it takes a lot of the energy from the ship's power plant to run it. It all looks like a relatively new tech.
It's interesting what they foresaw accurately, though. There's a scene, for ex, where the captain (played by a serious Leslie Neilson) and his XO first visit Dr. Morbius, and the XO uses a little handheld IT device to review the passenger manifest of the first starship to visit Altair IV. They also have video capacity on their personal communicators, they can transmit images back to their ship, which Kirk could not.
It's while since I've seen it, but, interstellar
communication still represents a challenge today.
In the developed galaxy containing James White's
"Sector General" space hospital, you didn't have to
take a ship's hyperspace drive apart to send signals,
but you did have the lights dimming noticeably on board
while they did it. An audio signal typically had
interference and missing words which a reasonable
redundant digital encoding system would avoid, and
in emergency, a beacon signal would advertise the
fact and the location of a shipwreck but no more.
I'm not sure but I think that normal communication
involved ejecting the beacon from a ship so that
transmission didn't zap the other onboard electrical
systems. Maybe that was why the lights went funny...
This all meant, of course, that missions often
proceeded in a context of exciting mystery and
limited information, if frustrating to the people