Friday, September 7, 2007

My New Novel Isn't About Space

Some of you may be surpised that although Stewards of the Flame takes place in the future on another planet (which its plot demands) it is not primarily about space. In the past, I have rarely expressed myself publicly on any topic except space -- and this was deliberate, since I believe that expanding beyond our single world is essential to the survival of our species, and that developing a permanent presence in space is therefore the most important issue humankind needs to deal with. It is a nonpartisan issue, and I haven't wanted to let my opinions on other subjects distract people from what I say about it, or to drive half my potential readers away because my political views don't match theirs. (I still feel this way with regard to partisan politics; you won't see me commenting on the 2008 election here.)

However, I have been writing about the importance of space for 40 years -- I wrote Journey Between Worlds in the fall of 1967 though it wasn't published until 1970 -- and I'm not sure that this has had any effect except on the readers who already agreed with me about it. And there are other nonpartisan issues I care about. I have reached the age where I'm increasingly aware that I don't have a great many years left to put off presenting ideas about them, if I'm ever going to. And so the new novel deals with two major ones: the fallacy of our society's medical philosophy, and the future development of so-called "paranormal" human abilities.

My original idea for Stewards of the Flame was to explore how, and why, a civilization might begin to move from the present level of ours to the level of Elana's people in my novel Enchantress from the Stars, who had very advanced psi powers. It would be a long process, taking place over many generations, but it would have to start somewhere. I believe, as I've said in the book, that it would not be adaptive in the evolutionary sense for it to start (except on an individual level) before a civilization had developed the technology required for expansion to many worlds. To turn to "inner space" before making sufficient effort to spread into outer space, as some people advocate, would be self-defeating, since colonization of space is necessary to our long-term survival. Thus at the stage where advanced psi powers become possible, there will necessarily be many colonized worlds -- and so while Stewards of the Flame is about psi, among other things, rather than about space, its being set on such a world means it's not really a departure from what I've been saying all along.

No comments: