Somebody Up There Likes MeJune 01, 2016

"Everybody now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself."

- "The Sirens of Titan" (Kurt Vonnegut, 1959)

November would be that time of the year to remember science fiction. Kurt Vonnegut, the author of "The Sirens of Titan", was born on the eleventh. The eleventh month of the year also marked the anniversary of the first publication of "The Astronauts", the first novel of Stanisław Lem. Five years ago, during this exact week, UNESCO hailed Poland for its contribution to literature. None was truer than Lem's impact on the science-fiction genre. "The Astronauts" may be set during the time when Communism took over the world, but this wasn't about the war of ideologies. It had more to do with man's desire to explore outer space.

Why does man keep on searching for answers outside?

The omnipresent narrator in "The Sirens of Titan" remarked that man wanted to know what the creation was all about. It could've been plain and simple, but it was more than that. Make it millions. It was also a Sisyphean task. (No one have entered the Black Hole and came out of it.) Could it be due to curiosity? We wanted to find out who created the universe, and if there would be any semblance to us. It would seem plausible. In fact, this could be one of the driving forces behind the Space Race (during the height of the Cold War). The urge to explore won't be enough. (We haven't scourge all the corners of the ocean yet.) Let's go to the next one.

In "2001: A Space Odyssey", Arthur Clarke would hint at a possible contact between an extra-terrestrial race and mankind during the dawn of time. The earliest members of the Homo sapiens could vouch for it (if they could say a word). As for the ancient civilizations, another look at the obelisk might reveal some answers. "Solaris" revealed the futile attempt to establish communication between humans and aliens. The cosmonauts could only see the bright hues of the two suns, which existed in another galaxy, while the non-human organisms could only convey their messages through their memories. If only there many were too many happy moments.

The angry, red planet

Expect a human colony in Mars during the next century (at the least). There have been many expeditions to the planet after Earth, as it try to find out if there is any life-sustaining form in that planet. Popular culture tend to hype it, inciting our fear of the unknown. On the other hand, there is a growing concern on resources being depleted someday. (This is the premise behind Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar".) As for what lies beyond, it would be hard to predict. But expect more spacecrafts to orbit, even data-storing robots to be hurled into Jupiter and Saturn. It's not only due to our curious mind. Somebody up there may like it.

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