I took a shot here at some science fiction. I'm not sure what I think of this one. It was written in December of 1999. The theme for the week was pioneers. I have a feeling I was torn here between writing sci-fi and writing a western. Maybe I should have gone with the western?
"So tell me why you all are here" Jim Stephenson heard and as he looked up from his conversation with a little irritation and saw the perky red haired reporter that had been running around talking to everybody on board the UNS Conestoga. He and his tablemates had so far avoided her. That, it seemed, was at an end.
Across the table Carlos Mendez quipped, "Well I'm going to get away from reporters and their questions and the way the media twists everything that is said anyway".
"You wish you were so popular that reporters wanted to bug you", Joanne Foss said from the seat between Jim and Carlos.
"Well I'm going I think because I've always felt the itch my ancestors felt to be out in the wide open spaces, to hunt for their food, to farm as much land as they could handle." Jim said. "Lets face it there are few wide-open spaces left on earth. I'm surprised it's taken this long for something like this to happen."
"Why do you think it did take so long then", the reporter asked.
"Well it seems to me that society reaches a point that a certain element is ready to move out on their own. My own ancestors were pioneers from way back. Some of them left Ireland for America to get more land and have a better opportunity at the kind of life they dreamed of. Some of them found it as soon as they landed here while others ended up pressing on west with other like minded pioneers." Jim answered.
"Its different for me I think", Joanne said quietly, somewhat lost in thought. "I am a scientist, a botanist. I look forward to a new planet to explore, to learning its life forms and helping our Earth plants and even animals adapt to that ecosystem. I also want to get away from the structure of the scientific community here on Earth. Hell people are even saying that what we'll be doing is raping the ecosystem of whichever of the new planet we settle. Don't they realize we will be stuck living there? We have to be self sufficient what would the purpose be of harming anything. It's a chance to do it right and not end up with the polluted mess we have now. I look forward to a pristine planet to begin anew with. We'vechosen to be an agrarian society with a low level of technology there will be no big manufacturing plants or anything like that. We'll start with clean electric vehicles, clean methods of producing that electricity. Its truly a chance for us to start over and do it right."
"That's interesting, but getting back to why it took so long for this to happen if there was such a readiness for it. What are your opinions?"
"It was mostly political" Carlos said. "Obviously it's a massively expensive operation. It had to be funded by governments. No company was going to do it, not in more than token amounts. We've seen that come to pass."
"First somebody had to get governments together to get serious about space exploration in general. All that crap about exploring the solar system was nice but we knew that we could not have viable colonies on any of the other planets, no the way people really want to live. There is some scientific interest and that's why there are facilities on the Moon, Mars and Titan but in general what it would take to grab people's attention and get the next wave of expansion going was the discovery first of practical interstellar flight and it took somebody that everybody thought was crazy to show that while Einstein was right it was also possible to kind of go around the back door and get places faster than light."
"Then came the debates about what would be found out there. What if we ended up kicking a hornet's nest so to speak and we got ourselves attacked. Thank God nobody worried about that in Columbus' day. We have yet to find any other intelligent life out there but I have to think if there was somebody out there that war like and hungry we'd have heard by now. A lot of arguments went up also about what if there was nothing out there to find. What if Earth was the only habitable planet? Again in the end logic prevailed over government bureaucrats trying to cover their asses. It's been a long struggle. First to get governments to work together for all mankind, and that's still far from perfect and second to get past the bureaucracy and actually get something done."
The riots of a few years ago that spread all around the world did have their positive effect in cutting bureaucratic waste of both time and money. The people that moan about how much this project is costing need to look at what has been spent to eliminate hunger in third world countries, hell we've gone a long way to eliminate that designationitself.
"That all has gotten us to this point but for some of us the changes are too slow and too shallow. I look forward to forging a new world according to the charter that has been drawn up among the chosen settlers. It should be a much better place than good old Earth and with luck it always will be. I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. I think you will see a wave of pioneers now as humanity once again expands his horizons." With that Carlos sat back and there was obvious agreement at the table. Before anybody else could say anything the preparation for launch warning was given and everybody scattered to their assigned places as mankind prepared to begin scattering from Earth to the Stars. The Pioneer spirit was and is alive and well.