Here in the final section of our Uncharted Constellations anthology, we discover an insistent unease, and sometimes downright cynicism, about the mission ‘to boldly go’ into the universe beyond. The psychology and politics of space colonisation are teased out in these fictive pieces. The arrogance. The price paid. The risks when technology, or humans, break down. With wit, weirdness and some goosebumps, our writers plunge deep into space - where no-one hears you scream. Or DO they?
If we are to colonise the Moon in the 21st century and send crewed voyages to Mars, we need to know this venture is for ALL of us. It’s the human story, or it’s not worth telling. Any successful long-term mission will have to draw upon the skills of a multi-cultural and gendered crew, in order to deal with the challenges, psychological, social and technical, of deep space exploration. Our 'Uncharted Constellations' anthology writers approached this theme by celebrating space history’s ‘Hidden Figures’, as well as crafting science-fiction that imagines that bold future for all of us.
The scientists and storytellers, who paved the way for the 1969 lunar landing, always saw that feat as a stepping-stone to the wider cosmos. Yet for their political masters, the decade’s dash to the moon was the end-point of this Cold War race. It has taken another 50 years to make Lunar and Martian colonies a serious possibility with NASA's Artemis mission and Elon Musk’s planned crewed mission to Mars, both in 2024. What does this mean for our identity as a species? Are we all citizens of the world now, or of the universe?
Were the astronauts of the 1960s human pioneers or Cold War warriors? Undoubtedly the prevailing narrative has been one of stoical men strapped into tin boxes and flung into an adventure whose dangers and discomforts most of us could barely imagine. A glamour clung to the Apollo astronauts, who were mythologised before they even flew. Icarus-like, they lived hard and dabbled with mortality. The mythology of the Apollo era is teased apart in the first section of our 'Uncharted Constellations' anthology, titled Moon Warriors.