When I was considering guest posts for Science Fiction Month, I knew instantly that I wanted to try to get Michael Drakich, author of I AM. He had done such a fantastic job on his novel that months later it still stood out in my mind. Happily, he agreed to write something for Sci-Fi & Scary, and here we are. We present Everything Old is New Again by Michael Drakich.
Everything Old is New Again
by Michael Drakich
When it comes to space faring science fiction, there is a certain affiliation to this statement. As a genre, both in the written word and in film, there is a cycle with which it rolls through. There is an interesting tie to scientific advancement within these cycles.
In the late nineteenth century, mechanized transportation became a reality. The idea that mankind could be transported across the land in such a mode of travel titillated the modern world and those visionaries within it. If one could do so across land, then the possibility of repeating such a performance through the air and sea was only a natural precursor to the concept of space travel. Though some will argue the beginning, the first age of science fiction with Jules Verne and H. G. Wells focused on the potential of the future. Some of these visions were dark, but all included some focus of what could be. Imbedded in these novels was the promise of great things to come. Even today, novels such as From the Earth to the Moon, and The War of the Worlds still resonate as books that seeks to expand the imagination of, not only the public, but those in the world of science. No longer was humanity singly concerned with simply their home, the planet Earth, and the misbegotten notion that it was at the center of all things, but the nearer celestial bodies in the solar system came into focus—the moon and Mars. A fascination developed with possibilities of what could exist out there. For years after, the focus continued with novels like A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and then the possibilities expanded with The Skylark of Space by E. E. Smith. Space Opera had found its place in the annals of science fiction.
For a while, the cycle spun to the down side until the next seismic shift. On the fateful day of October 4th in 1957 the then Soviet Union shocked the world with the launch of Sputnik, the first satellite in space. The Space Race was launched and for more than a decade, rocket after rocket left the bases of both the United States and the USSR in an endeavor to expand man’s reach into outer space with the glorious culmination of Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he set foot on the moon on July 20th, 1969. With this proliferation of spaceships came the Golden Age of Science Fiction. A whole host of exciting science fiction authors, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Samuel R. Delany, Roger Zelazny, and Ursula K. LeGuin, just to name a few, jumped to the forefront of the industry and science fiction became mainstream in the world of literature. Augmenting this invigoration was the start of perhaps the most iconic science fiction television program of all time, Star Trek. The sixties finished with a bang when Arthur C. Clarke’s visionary novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey hit the silver screen. Now, not only was science fiction established in the halls of libraries everywhere, but it had also earned a place among the movie greats and as this golden age rolled on it ended on the high note of a new film, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Disappointingly, after the Star Wars movies, the cycle spun once more in a downturn that saw a temporary end to big budget science fiction films and the waning of science fiction novels as a genre of interest. It didn’t take a lot to figure out why. Outside of near-Earth space, humanity no longer ventured far from home. The planets were being discovered, not with boots on the ground, but with cameras in orbit. The glamour was not there. Despite amazing photos and ground based rovers, the resulting interest lacked the enthusiasm of days gone past. If one could point to a single thing as to why, the answer was simple. Nowhere in this solar system of ours was there a sign of life. Nowhere in this solar system of ours was there a place to live. It wasn’t until the 6th of October in 1995 that science came to the rescue with the discovery of 51 Pegasi b (abbreviated 51 Peg b), unofficially dubbed Bellerophon, and later named Dimidium. Proof that exoplanets existed became another game changer. Though only a gas giant like Jupiter, the possibility of Earth-like planets existing out there bloomed in the minds of astronomists worldwide. Big budget science fiction films were on the comeback.
Now, the major player out there is the Kepler Space Observatory. Rocky exoplanets located in the habitable zones of distant stars is a regular occurrence. The possibility of humanity venturing out someday to populate the galaxy has once more become a real possibility. In the near future, Kepler will be joined by TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey, the James Webb Space Telescope, and at some point the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope. Combined, not only will these astral telescopes be able to see with much better clarity and in more detail, but they will be able to analyze atmospheres to determine if life exists. These devices will continue to greatly expand the search for Earth-like exoplanets, but also drive the public’s attention back to the stars as new future homes for humanity are discovered. Already, Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon with movies like Interstellar and The Martian, and the soon to be released movie Passengers featuring the very concept of interstellar space travel. Add to the mix the resurgence of both the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. It is only logical to assume the public will demand more and more in both science fiction movies and novels.
The cycle is spinning again to the top. The expectations for space faring science fiction to return as a genre that matters are looking good. It is the right time to be a fan of science fiction as it relates to outer space. Truly, when it comes to this type of science fiction making yet another comeback, everything old is really new again.
I can hardly wait.
I AM Synopsis: Genius, wealthy and life regenerated, Adam Spenceworth is living the dream aboard his custom spaceship run by Mum, his first designed AI, protected by Gort, his first robot, and occupied by Eve, his sexbot. With each regeneration he returns to start over as a twenty-five year old man ready to enjoy the pleasures of his success. What could go wrong? Except, maybe, planetary wars, territorial space battles, alien invasions, and the disturbing fact that each regeneration is taking exponentially longer than the one before bringing him into one galactic crisis after another. A frolicking space drama filled with references sure to strike home with any science fiction aficionado. – Goodreads
(Click on the cover to be taken to the Goodreads page.)