by Rick Norwood
|SF on TV|
So, why did Star Trek: Nemesis tank, earning less money than any other Star Trek film? It wasn't that good a movie, but there is no reason to think a better movie would have done better at the box office. The public is tired of Star Trek. In fact, the public is tired, period. In 1966, they were eager to boldly go where no man has gone before. Now, the cry is, "We want room service! We want drinks with little umbrellas in them!"
I overheard at the next table in a fancy restaurant an oration from a citizen who probably drives an SUV. Given the choice between a space program and a $300 tax refund, he wants his check, and he wants it now. So, Jim Kirk, you can put on your spectacles and curl up in front of an open fireplace with a copy of Moby Dick. The meme of the day: it is cheaper and safer to send robots to explore space instead of humans. It is time for R2D2 and C3PO to boldly go, not to mention Robbie and Tobar, where no man will ever bother to go. Those of us, thou and I for example, who dream of the stars, are, as far as this generation is concerned, out of luck.
But one of the best moments in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy tells of a future age in which the adventurous spirit of humankind revives, and we dare to do great things, not because greatness is cheaper and safer, but because it is what we want.
On (seemingly) another subject, the current issue of American Scientist lays out plainly a choice we will have to face in the next few decades, whether we go into space or not. We have to start building nuclear power plants now. Or billions of people will freeze in the dark. Those are our choices. Alternatives to those two choices come from people who are either unable or unwilling to do the math.
What, if anything, to watch on television in March:
Hope you've signed up for Zelda, Windwalker, so your wall size TV won't go completely to waste. (You get a free Gamecube version of Orcarina of Time, if you sign up now.)
Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.
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