Brice Russ is a guest blogger over at The Launch Pad, the Google Lunar X Prize blog, and he’s written an interesting little post about science fiction’s place vis a vis interest in spaceflight. He starts out noting that most current readers of The Launch Pad have a deep seated interest in space flight as a result of either having grown up between the Apollo missions and the first Shuttle flights, or because of a background in science fiction be it reading or watching. At least for me, he’s right on both counts.
He then turns his attention to what kids, teenagers especially, have been reading lately: Harry Potter and Twilight. Aside from the obvious fantasy-ness of these series, Russ asks whether a childhood devoid of science fiction blinds someone to the possibilities of space exploration and colonization. And let’s not forget all the non-fiction books about space that are available to be read. I’ll pose his question, with addendum, for you all to comment on:
Does the predominance of Harry Potter over science fiction bode well or ill for the future of public spaceflight support? What science fiction and non-fiction books would you give to a child or teenager to inspire them about space exploration?
I think the time is ripe to start firing up people’s imaginations. The current Space Shuttle program is set to end of life sometime in 2010. At that point, NASA has contracted with the Russian space program to ferry astronauts to the ISS on Soyuz rockets until the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle comes online sometime in 2014 or later. Current interest in space is very low and the passing of the Shuttle certainly won’t help. But, when Orion gets closer to completion we’re going to see a surge of interest again. What better way to help than to prime the pump now? Here are my thoughts:
As for non-fiction, I liked The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill so much I did a project in high school on it arguing for manned colonization of space. I also really liked This New Ocean for a concise history of the space race. I’d also hand out copies Apollo XIII. Good stuff.