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7 October 2012

It’s interesting to note how often commonsense predictions in SF come true. Arthur C. Clarke’s predicted satellites for example. The most recent item was a report I saw on TV just the other week, in which they demonstrated a space harpoon. Not for whales, but for space debris floating in an orbit around the Earth and endangering communications satellites, the space station, and shuttles coming and going. Currently we have a huge amount of debris in Earth orbit, and this gadget is designed for someone to harpoon items, and place them in a trajectory into the atmosphere where they’ll burn up, thus reducing the hazards of space.

Of course, the thing that occurred to me was to wonder why this hadn’t been done to start with. SF writers have been using the problems of artificial space debris in earth-orbit for decades for both short stories and books. Why did it never strike scientists and governments, that leaving all sorts of trash to hurtle about around Earth wasn’t a good idea. I’m not altogether certain that sending chunks of it hurtling towards Earth as an alternative may be a good idea either. Depending on just how likely it is for the item to burn up that is. It may be necessary to have some space-going garbage person out there cutting up the items before they’re sent on their way, so that they are of a size to burn up safely rather than braining some unfortunate below. And to think that it could have been avoided if only those putting items into space had read the right SF or used common sense. Creating a band of millions of bits of rubbish presenting a lethal barrier to future space exploration, is, to say the least, counter-productive. They say that what goes up must come down, it looks as if that was a saying to which more of those who sent it up in the first place should have paid heed.



Yes, this morning I had an email confirmation that my story, Arafel, will be appearing in the Strange Christmas anthology. That makes about 14 of my stories sold and scheduled to be out this year. Not a bad year to date.


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