A Speck in the Infinite

Inspired by the Jet Propulsion Lab’s stunning new series of space travel posters, I wrote about the changing role of space travel in storytelling for Electric Literature.

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“Interplanetary life is still a far off dream, yet anxiety about Earth’s future imbues this research with new gravity. Rather than focusing on discovery, popular culture reflects an increased concern with the logistics of space travel: what psychological challenges will voyagers face during decades long missions to reach a destination; can travelers use asteroids to stock up on water and fuel; can astronauts have sex in space; can women give birth in zero gravity?

These practical questions give way to unsettling existentialism and thrilling narrative possibilities. The scale of the universe is unfathomable. What does it mean to be a speck in the infinite? Do specks have the right to colonize new planets? Will life on a new planet cause adaptations that fundamentally alter our species? To what extent would we include plants, animals, bacteria, fungus and viruses in resettling? Which humans would go and which would stay behind? What are the consequences of failure? Of success?”

Read the whole essay here!

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2 thoughts on “A Speck in the Infinite

    • No, but it could’ve been. I love those NASA posters–Yussef and I got one for our living room–and so I wanted to write about them. It turns out I had so much to say!

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