Communion Of Dreams

March 28, 2007, 10:46 am
Filed under: Feedback, General Musings, NASA, Predictions, Press, Science Fiction, Space, tech, Writing stuff

On this morning’s Marketplace, Robert Reich had a good commentary about the problem with near-Earth asteroids and the NASA effort to identify and track these potential threats. Being an economist, he took the position that for the cost of one week’s expeditures in Iraq, we could fund this program completely through 2020, and then start thinking about what technologies we might need to deal with such a problem asteroid.

All well and good. But what does it have to do with Communion?

My previous versions of the book contained another bit of ‘history’ in addition to the “Fire-flu”: that an asteroid of about 300 meters diameter had hit in central China in the mid 2020’s. This I used for an explanation for several things in the world that I create: an offset to the effects of global warming; an explanation for what happened to the rise of China as an economic power in coming decades; and as a motivation for humankind’s rapid development of the necessary technologies to get into space in a big way.

I don’t see the matter as at all unlikely, and if you look at the information provided by the scientists involved in the search to identify these near-Earth asteroids, you quickly come to the conclusion that we’re rolling the dice each year to see whether or not we’re gonna get hit.

But this seemed to be the thing that tripped up most of my early readers. The prospect of both a pandemic flu and a meteor strike was just too much – even though the two things are in no way related, and we’re ‘overdue’ for both. I’m not sure whether this was just asking people to suspend their disbelief a bit too much, or whether it was just a little too frightening a prospect, but it was clear that however well it worked to create the “world” of Communion, it had to go.

So I dropped back, thought through the potential ramifications of a pandemic flu, and figured that I could more or less accomplish the same things with saying that the world collapse which followed the Fire-flu leads to some small-scale nuclear wars. In the great scheme of things, I see this as probably just as likely a scenario, I suppose. But it is somehow less satisfying an explanation for me. Ah well.

Jim Downey

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