Last Monday was the 40th anniversary of man walking on the moon. I’m sure you all saw some of the news coverage about it, but I got to see the actual event. Oh, I wasn’t on the moon, watching from an armchair; I saw it on TV and toasted it with a Pepsi and cheers. It was a happening I’d been waiting for since the early 1950’s.
At the age of eight or nine, I discovered the world of science fiction…Heinlein, Azimov, Clarke…all the wonderful writers whose rich imaginagion built great worlds to visit. From that moment on, I wanted to visit the moon. I wanted to colonize Mars. I wanted to fly in the thermal caves of a planet’s whose name I don’t remember, but their citizens’ favorite weekend sport was to strap on wings and fly around where the updrafts kept them aloft. What fantastic wonders those books showed me.
And not just a school-girl in Oklahoma. These books also triggered the dreams of youngsters who grew up to be engineers, pilots, and the Everyman who put their imaginations to work in practical manners. Most of the people involved in the early days of NASA were also SF readers, sparked by the books they read as kids.
Somehow, America’s space dream got off track. When Neil first stepped foot on the moon, though I knew I would never be an astronaut, I did have a hope that in the foreseeable future, I would be able to at least visit the moon as a vacationeer. Alas, that hope died about 20 years ago. For a brief period, I even though about a burial in space; still might do that one.
Thanks to younger minds, travel to other worlds will happen. I just won’t be here to toast the event with Pepsi. So to all those early writers…thank you for your imagination. Thank you for giving us a goal. And when we get there, your names will go with us.