Over a decade ago NASA launched the New Horizons space probe and earlier this week we began to see the images sent back from its target, Pluto.
It’s a cold hard fact for a sci fi writer to have to digest that it took this probe a decade to reach the outer rim of the Solar system. I grew up watching Star Trek when the Enterprise would zoom through the Solar system and past the nine planets in a matter of minutes on its journey to other worlds. When I was still at school I had a book about the Solar system, in it was detailed drawings of each of the nine planets and all the data that, up to that point we had gathered about them. The illustrations were artists renditions obviously for at that time we hadn’t any detailed photographs but my imagination was captured none the less. I would sit for endless hours imagining travelling to the stars, my mind would wander where my body could not. So it’s not surprising that when Star Trek came on the tv, I was hooked from day one. Later when Star Wars upped the ante the game was really on. My love for sci fi was in full flight by that time and I devoured any material on the subject I could. My favourites always featured physically strong leading characters like the action heroes of movies but there never seemed any to quench my thirst. Not since Edgar Rice Burroughs and his John Carter of Mars and subsequent copies of that genre has any author written any sci fi action hero stories, none that I could find anyway. I’m not saying they aren’t out there, just that I never found any, so I wrote the book I wanted to read and the Col Sec series was born.
I’ve seen technology advance in leaps and bounds in just the last fifty years and I can only imagine what will happen in the years to come. Those advances are making it possible for us to view close up photos of the most distant planet in our Solar system but it has taken a decade for the probe to get in position. How long will it take for us to be able to see other new worlds, other new horizons as this probe continues its journey through our galaxy.
NASA is making strides towards perfecting a workable warp drive so who knows, maybe one day interstellar travel will be possible. Until that day I’ll just have to be content with writing about it.