I hate cosmology. 2
October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Last week I ranted a bit on how much I despise cosmology. It haunts me at night thinking about it and, even though most of its doomsday prophecies are far off and highly irrelevant to the total scope of my life, I feel a sense of loss. Maybe some part of me believes in reincarnation or, perhaps, that eventually humananity will find a way to resurrect the consciousnesses of the deceased. I wouldn’t mind even something akin to Futurama’s head jars, but if the human race is inevitably to be erased by a collapsing universe, what’s the point? Why does cosmology have to point toward tidings of doom anyhoo? Why can’t there be an inevitable happily-ever-after? An instant at which all dark matter turns to dark chocolate? (This too could have chaotic implications, but pretend it means nothing beyond an infinite supply of sweets.)
And that’s what I liked about David Brin’s “The Crystal Spheres.” It offers a beautifully mysterious answer to Fermi’s paradox. Granted, the presence of selectively destructible, invisible spheres surrounding every solar system is not science, but there are certainly no implications of unavoidable destruction of the human race here. The tone of the story is one that features altruism, mystery, and optimism. If we’re patient and we wait long enough, we won’t be alone. Unlike almost all of the other stories we had read, this one managed to evoke a positive emotional response. I felt GOOD after reading this.
Curiously enough, “The Crystal Spheres” has no true conflict in it, just a future human population many times the size of our own that feels lonely, of all things, and the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe becomes the drive of the story. I realize this can’t be done often as most stories rely on conflict to drive plot, but in this particular instance it works. There is no concrete reason given for humanity’s search for other conscious beings, but we get a sense that the search is real and logical…but hey, that’s just my 2¢. I bet there’s plenty of others who read it and thought the characters seemed like depressed archaeologists going out of their way to find work.