greg (grysar) wrote,

Space, the final frontier

Random question, was there any connection between the closing of frontiers and the rise of science fiction literature?

I don't think so, but I've been thinking of frontiers because of my political philosophy class and how the world is largely lacking one now, but that as Space travel pushes farther out we will again have one.

So what do I mean by frontiers? Areas that are dangerous, lightly inhabited, and not really 'civilized;' these are areas of great opportunity, freedom, and danger. They let people escape government and class, giving a real alternative to whatever home life one must deal with. Typical examples are colonies in largely uninhabited areas and the wild west. These areas may already have some inhabitants, though they will typically be an other, their civilization is valid but different, and a mix of helpfulness and threat. I'm oversimplifying here because what the reality of the frontier is less important than the ideal of the frontier.

I certainly do not think this is a universal theme of science fiction, but I do think it is there, particularly in stories about rogues, entrepreneurs, and colonies. I doubt I'm saying anything original here but it is still a fairly intriguing topic.

It also is a justification for space travel, the world is not enough, the frontier has important societal benefits, and there are no guarantees we can solve our problems by turning inwards.
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