Okay, so we don’t have flying cars or jet packs, but we do have electronic books, and we can play Angry Birds on our phones.  So we’re making progress.  It’s the 21st Century, and things are starting to feel a little like science fiction.

The biggest thing we haven’t done yet is, of course, space travel.  It should be affordable by now, or at least reasonably common.  Instead, NASA is shutting down the space shuttle program, and we’re left with little more than recreational trips into the upper atmosphere—reserved for the rich.

But there’s hope.  As I discussed in last week’s post, the United States is interested in sending missions to nearby asteroids.  Some private companies are also interested in mining those asteroids for resources, and China has announced plans to build a base on the moon for its own mining purposes.

If all this really happens, if the economies of two major superpowers become dependent on space travel, then we’ll definitely be living in a science fiction world similar to Ben Bova’s Asteroid Wars series.  We may see a day when men not only live on the Moon but are fighting for their independence, and when prospectors in the Asteroid Belt are killing each other to claim their own lumps of rock.

I’m not sure I want to live in the Asteroid Wars novels.  I’d much prefer living in the Star Trek universe, where things are relatively peaceful (and maybe we can play Angry Birds on the holodeck).  But the real future is a science fiction novel yet to be written.  It’s up to us to decide what it should be like.

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