Growing up with Science Fiction

Science fiction goes way back for me. My parents preferred more “realistic” things. Dad liked cop shows and westerns. Mom liked old timey family movies. Notions of space travel, other planets, and possible intelligent life on them was a strangeness that neither of my parents had thought of in their youth.

When I was growing up in the 70s, the major science fiction landmark was George Lucas’ Star Wars. It superseded Stanley Kubrick’s more philosophical approach with writer Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Arthur C. Clarke was a science fiction writer with a real background in WWII science. In the mid-70s, before George Lucas took over our imaginations, I watched a Saturday afternoon TV show called Space: 1999 starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain from the 1960s TV hit show Mission Impossible, and Barry Morse from The Fugitive.

The Saturday afternoon air time would get awkward since it shared a time slot with wrestling, and my dad might have been around wanting to watch it. My science fiction interest meant nothing compared to sweaty goons rolling around for a hooting, cheering crowd. I will admit that around the age of 11 or 12 I did watch wrestling for a time, but it revealed itself to be as dull and redundant as electric race car tracks, which were also popular at the time. The concept wore out for me before the mega-popularity of Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania ran wild.

Space: 1999 had the impossible scientific idea of the moon being knocked from its orbit allowing the inhabitants of the Moonbase Alpha to wander through space. Many years later, I would learn how essential the moon is to maintain conditions on Earth. Without the balance the moon provides for our environment, conditions would be so harsh that life would only be found in the costal scrub brush. Without the actions of the tides, the Earth would not at all be the planet we know and live on.

Science fiction often comes up as something people read, most often young men and boys. I’ve had tech-heavy electrical journeymen refer to technologically influenced things that make up current science fiction. One electrician actually apologized for recommending Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield: Earth, as he didn’t want to be associated with the church. I read classics from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells who gave basic ideas of submarine technology, time travel, and space travel. In fact, Verne’s idea of sending a moonship by canon wouldn’t work, as the propelling explosion would turn any passengers into splattered goop before they left the surface of the Earth.

Many years later, I would learn how essential the moon is to maintain conditions on Earth. Without the balance the moon provides for our environment, conditions would be so harsh that life would only be found in the costal scrub brush.

Airship technology is science fiction’s most popular and darkest contribution. From the time of Frenchmen sending up balloons, Man has dreamt of floating platforms from which to bomb targets below. Today, the idea is much more advanced and ubiquitous, far more popular than time machines or trips to the moon. Science fiction standard Star Trek did not configure on our TV until the reruns in the early 80s, settling into the Saturday afternoon time slot alongside Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, the opposite end of the afternoon occupied by wrestling.

By that point in time, Star Wars was also the Reagan Era initiative of space missile defense. The colonization of Mars got official consideration in the era of Bush II. Somewhere in the mid-80s, Arthur C. Clarke put forward the idea of an elevator to Earth’s orbit. That idea is also under official consideration. I ride the skip elevator on the side of the Stantec Tower that is under construction downtown. The concept of it going higher than any Earth-bound use is deeply intimidating.

We will attempt to colonize Mars, not be colonized by it. If anyone has travelled in time, they’re keeping it to themselves. Those flip-top communicators of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek are already out of date! Viva science fiction!

Reinhardt lives in Boyle Street with his wife, Keri Breckenridge.

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