Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Space Colonies -- Time to Reboot!

My interest in space was formed in a very different time than we are living in today. We were in the middle of the Cold War then, and while I was in high school, we landed men on the moon for the first time in human history. The pace of space development with the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs was simply stunning. Every flight---sometimes twice in a month!---we did something new, something that had never been done before. It seemed like anything was possible!

Politically, the best way to describe me is a “recovering Libertarian”. I’ve always believed in freedom, and minimum government, with the exception of robust national defense. I’ve run for office, I’ve run a state political party, and I’ve run a government agency (Nevada Department of Information Technology). When I was very young, I wanted to “save the world”. Didn’t we all? When I determined that to be impossible (too much inertia relative to my meager power), I decided the best thing to do was to start a new community in space, with a much stronger, more explicit freedom orientation than even the United States Constitution provides.

When I first started looking at the technical issues involved in space travel, the problem struck me as daunting. Still, with the obvious progress being made in the race to the moon, it seemed like an achievable objective. I joined the L5 Society (later NSS) and started OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Space Industrialization and Settlement) for the purpose of getting the resources allocated to build a space colony.

But, even as I was ramping up my efforts, the darkness was starting to descend. Popular interest in space plunged, and the final lunar missions were cancelled. Politically, we became obsessed with picking lint out of our collective navel. There was great enthusiasm in the private sector, and many companies were formed that would be able to deliver space services at a fraction of the cost of NASA, in just a few years. Well, maybe just a few more years. OK, maybe, at least, in a decade or so.

And gradually, in terms of visible results, nothing happened. At least, nothing visible to an unrepentant colonist, who was only peripherally interested in the technical details. I lost my faith, and turned my attention to other things. And so things remained, for many years.

Then, finally, Rutan et al won the X-Prize! Something had actually happened! A long way from private access to orbit, to be sure, and there’s still no clear path to space colonies, but at least the “So What?” meter has finally come off the peg. A glimmer of hope!

And at the same time, the need for space colonies has become resurgent, in seemingly just a few years. The march toward socialism in the United States seems unstoppable, and the delusional Warmists are on the verge of retarding the growth in standard of living worldwide, to no good purpose. The two, or course, are not unrelated.

So, there’s a glimmer of hope, and an increasingly urgent need, but what’s to be done about it? Rich folks have many ways to make a difference. They can fly in space themselves, they can invest in private space ventures, and they can use the considerable opportunities available for those with means to increase government support for space development and exploration. But what can an average guy do? Just an unrepentant colonist, say?

I don’t have the specific answer, but I know what the key is. For sure, the key is not education. It’s not even information. And it is most certainly not in technical analysis.

The key is entertainment! For better or ill, we now live in the United States of Entertainment, and any solution for making a major change is going to be primarily based in that domain. That hasn’t always been true, and won’t be true forever. But it is now, and will be into the foreseeable future.

I’ve always understood this on a personal level, in my interactions with people, and in my presentations, both of which are generally successfully entertaining. It’s only recently become apparent to me, though, that if I’m going to make a difference in the world, I need to enter, and come to understand, that murky world, where reason and analysis play a decidedly secondary role.

It should be an interesting adventure!

Terry C Savage
Science Fiction Author
The End of Winter

Monday, March 30, 2009

The End of Winter

My first book, The End of Winter, is now published, and available at Amazon:


I would very much welcome comments about the story here! A brief summary appears below.


In 2808 AD, humanity has achieved faster than light travel, and has explored thousands of light years away from Earth. Many other races have been encountered, but the Earth Space Force is clearly the dominant military power in the region. However, there are pirates and renegades of many kinds that plague space commerce, and the ESF has primary responsibility for suppressing them. As the story begins, Commander Curt Jackson of the ESF is commanding a squadron of fighters searching for renegades. When he finds them, he discovers his own squadron is hopelessly outnumbered by smaller, faster ships, and he begins to prepare for the worst. Suddenly, an enormous unidentified vessel joins the battle, and the tide turns in favor of Curt’s squadron. For centuries, there had been rumors about an ancient race just beyond the boundaries of known space. The people of Earth are about to meet them.


The opening scene in 2808 is on the edge of the region of space known to the Earth Space Force. The first few centuries of human exploration of the galaxy included many encounters with other intelligent civilizations, but only a small fraction of them had achieved faster than light travel. As the ESF pushed the boundaries of the Earth sphere of influence thousands of light years away from Earth, the number of mid-tech civilizations continued in one direction away from Earth, around the disc of the galaxy, with the number of spacefaring civilizations actually gradually declining.

The trend in the opposite direction of exploration was entirely different. People had theorized for generations that the density of advanced civilizations would be uniform around the galaxy radially, with an increasing density toward the center. Not so! There were clearly a decreasing number of civilizations in one direction, and an increase in both number and level of sophistication in the other. The further out the ESF explored, the more widespread and specific the rumors became of an ancient empire that had receded many millennia ago.

As the level of technological sophistication of the planets increased, the level of believability of the rumors declined. The Ancients weren’t just one species, but dozens of them. Their ships were enormous, with impenetrable shields, and incredibly powerful weapons. They were rumored to be able to obtain speeds in excess of several light years per hour! Their expansion seemed relentless, until they were beaten back by some terrible, mysterious force. The humans mostly ignored these fantastic stories, but when they got several thousand light years away from Earth, the rumors became too pervasive to ignore. There were even first hand reports of live contacts with the Ancients!


It's time to come out of the shadows, and enter the blogosphere!

I already know how to fly in the atmosphere. Hopefully, I'll quickly learn how to fly here as well.

Comments very much appreciated, but be gentle at first. This is my first time!