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So, above, I meant to say, "If so, is it possible that there are new ideas and plans that are a better match to our current situation?" rather than "it is possible." I've tried to edit the post but it doesn't work, it just takes me to an obsolete draft version. Please note my correction, and sorry for any confusion!

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1900s? Pfah. Why not sharpen the distinction between the recent years by calling it "Second Millennium SF", and call for SF of the Third?

And Second Millennium SF was often the culmination of that millennium, which was distinguished by (1) exploration, (2) invasion, and (3) colonization. From the French invading England in 1066, and the Mongols taking China a century later, it was one long millennium of invading, not just next-door neighbours like in the 1st millennium, but distant countries now accessible via new transport technology.

So: Star Trek and Heinlein and Asimov and Star Wars were all sure the main point of space exploration was colonization. And if we can't find a "Class M Planet" (which just littered the galaxy in most futures), then we'll build an O'Neill. Or a Ringworld.

At the time, we were also freaking out about the Limits to Growth and overpopulation. Now, we're looking at the human race *shrinking* to start off the 3rd millennium, we're really sure we can't do FTL, and colonies look both impossible and unneccessary.

So, as briefly as can be stated, 3rd millennium SF will not be about more quantity, but more quality, of life.

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Well put. I don't advocate defeatism, though. It's not like settling space isn't possible; what I wanted to point out in my previous piece was that we could have very different motives and methods for doing so. Which leads to the question of what a 'post-colonialist interplanetary civilization' could look like. Fun! Any thoughts on what you'd want to see in such a story (epic)?

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Well, for starters, the *Earth* being "post-colonialist" would be enormous progress. We progress on multiple axes at once, of course. By the time we've progressed enough technically to put multiple tonnes of structure and multiple more tons of life-support, per person, into use, we will hopefully have made a great deal of social progress.

Technically, I really think the first steps towards getting started in space are very well-done by Daniel Suarez' "Delta-V" and "Critical Mass" books...and I also, alas, think those steps will take multiple decades, probably the rest of the century.

Suarez is vastly more optimistic, but so was I when expecting the Pan Am Space Clipper by 2001, back in 1969, and I'm thinking 2100 for Suarez' moon base shooting regolith up to L2, and the convenient Ryugu asteroid sending tens of kilotonnes of metals and volatiles. And it'll take a decade or so of that for Suarez' "Critical Mass" to build serious kit with.

And technical progress will stop without social progress. "For All Mankind" shows the effects of swapping the military budget and space budget, so that would be a fine step one, but, again, decades. Space takes vast sums of money, and it takes investment outside normal human time-scales of expected return. (Charlie Stross invented the "Slow Dollar" to finance multi-century star travel in "Neptune's Brood"...but even Charlie was working with very long lifespans, too. Absent those, nobody but governments will invest.)

I emphasize, writing about star travel myself, that it will take consistent vast expenditure over long periods, trillions. That requires a really mature global civilization, without the instabilities of conflict, with the productivity of everybody being educated and industrialized. Alas, I imagined that over 2000 words was needed for my point, and never summarized:

http://brander.ca/blog/it_takes_a_planet_to_conquer_space.html

So my step one is a peaceful, fully industrialized Earth, which has already learned elementary terraforming. As Neal Tyson puts it, "If we can make another planet into Earth, we can make the Earth back into Earth"...fixing global warming. I'm a big geoengineering proponent, though with cautious experiment, obviously.

By the time we can have that much social progress, it will also be 2100. At least. We'll be able to budget that trillion a year that's needed for real results out there.

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Great blog piece! I'm totally in agreemen; I'm planning on writing some stories that take a tangent to ask who, exactly, should be colonizing space in the first place? (Hint: it's neither humanity, necessarily, nor posthuman AIs.) Btw, my novel Lockstep (2014) was in some ways a playful answer to Charlie's Neptune's Brood. And I will be talking about geoengineering in Unapocalyptic, and expect to piss off everybody on all sides of that debate.

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Hey, you just sold a book!

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I really wouldn’t stop worrying about overpopulation and limits to growth. There are now more than twice as many people as there were in the sixties. And each person now consumes more than the four billion did then, with greater aspirations. We consume more efficiently than we used to but, consistent with Jevons’ observations from the 19th century, we take those efficiency gain in increased consumption, not in reducing our use of resources. What is different from the 1960s is that we have much more information about the rate at which we are using up our planetary capital.

And, really, population growth is slowing. A few rich countries are facing decline, but there’s no sign that the world as a whole will see fewer people. Short of poisoning ourselves to infertility I see no chance that human population won’t expand to the point of misery.

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My favourite stat on consumption is that engineers busted butt, got ulcers, lost marriages for 50 years since the Arab Oil Embargo made "internal combustion engine efficiency" this huge goal. They succeeded remarkably, some 30% improvement, just 7 gallons to take you where 10 gallons used to.

And the number of litres of gasoline purchased did not change a drop; just the weight of the average vehicle, up by that same 30%. Worse, the increase was an "arms race" for safety by intent to crush the other vehicle, but since both were doing that, the only losers were the virtuous ones who kept buying subcompacts, and, of course, cyclists and pedestrians.

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These look like some very interesting projects! Is the waterway disruption, mentioned in the blurb on the Deodand's keystone project, a temporary, supportive scaffolding that aims to eventually be supplied by actual beavers - or is it meant to be a sustainable ecological modification that would obviate the contribution of beavers in that biome?

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Although it's true that there really hasn't been a 'wilderness' anywhere on the planet for thousands of years (eg. the forests of the Great Lakes region where I live were always managed by the locals using controlled burns), it would be preferable that natural systems simply... be natural. All interventions are hopefully temporary, and even those that aren't... well you know what I say: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature.

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can't humans be a part of nature? perhaps our role is as steward? why not?

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We do have to be stewards--and depending on the culture, arguably we can be pretty good at it. The current culture however has a 'fox guarding the henhouse' problem. We cannot be good stewards while our entire civilization rests on our continued and escalating exploitation of natural resources.

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why i no longer accept capitalism as a viable economic model. not that self-interest and personal safety and the security of the fruits of my labor shouldn't be given high value, but when profit becomes our religion poor outcomes are to be expected, as any news site demonstrates.

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