Buzz Aldrin’s in the news again*, opening a new institute at Florida Tech to promote the settlement of Mars through research. I posted on his science fiction novel aimed at inspiring space travel once before. I thought it would be fun to look at it again.
Encounter with Tiber is a hard science fiction story for fans of space travel and colonization. It’s a long book with two related stories framed by a future historian’s voyage to the planet Tiber. The book loves technology and will interrupt the action to indulge, so you must concentrate on your reading – maybe it’s not the best beach book.
The First Story
One story starts with an alternative history of the end of the shuttle program and continues into the very near future with explorations of the Moon and Mars. Thick with detailed descriptions of technology, it includes Aldrin’s real-life proposals, like the Mars to Earth cycler spacecraft.
The Second Story
Another story tells of very-human aliens who came to Earth in the past, seeking a new home for their doomed race. Also full of scientific details, you’ll get a feel for what it’s like in space.
The politics of space appear in both stories – and “political pressure leads to poor decisions and tragedy.” Since Aldrin was a NASA astronaut (yes, he is that Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon), it makes me wonder what real-life events led him here. It’s not very encouraging for anyone who wants to land people on Mars. But politics exist in private companies too, so it’s not a problem unique to NASA.
Is This Book For You?
If you are not a hard science fiction/space fiction fan, you’ll find this book tedious. If you love the details a space insider can provide, you’ll be fascinated
*Note July 2018: Buzz Aldrin’s been in the news more recently becase of legal battles with his children over control of his properties. I feel sad for them all.
How we can send people to Mars
“Florida Institute of Technology held a signing ceremony formalizing the establishment of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at the university… led by legendary Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the Institute will promote the settlement of Mars through research.”
At the age of 85, Aldrin is actively involved, not just a figurehead. He’s been reaching into space for decades. In 1963 he received a PhD with a thesis on Manned Orbital Rendezvous and six years later was the second man to walk on the Moon.
Aldrin struggled with depression and alcoholism and soared beyond. He could have become a ponderous public figure, but he seems to have a sense of humor – even making fun of himself on The Big Bang Theory.
He truly fits America’s vision of an astronaut.
Read the Florida Tech news
Read more about Buzz_Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, is a long-standing proponent of colonizing Mars. He recently addressed a USA Senate Subcommittee. When talking to politicians, Aldrin emphasizes the need for America to demonstrate its leadership and stay ahead of other nations, but other organizations – and Aldrin himself – have a wider interest in colonizing the Red Planet.
Among other private, non-governmental organizations, Mars One has been in the news. Mars One is making a serious effort to send people, near-term, one-way, to Mars. While there is skepticism, there are also people ready to go.
One reason to colonize Mars is to create a second human home in case something bad happens to Earth. This is a lofty goal, but it’s also abstract. No one thinks any large number of people could be sent to Mars – we Earthlings would all be stuck here on Earth trying to survive the “something bad.”
Colonizing Mars will require a commitment to the abstract – to go to Mars because it’s there, because we can (maybe, soon), or because it’s destiny. Aldrin has written that “humanity is destined to explore, settle, and expand outward into the universe.”
As I sit on the patio of my favorite coffee shop, nibbling a scone and watching people stroll by on a sunny spring day, colonizing Mars seems unlikely, dismaying, and unnerving. But as a Mars One semi-finalist says, “we stagnate here on Earth. We are so predictable… This project is an opportunity to break through… We will be a totally new kind of human, homo sapiens Martianis.”
Good luck, Martianis.
I’ve posted reviews of some of Aldrin’s books here (as “Ponderer”) and here.
Encounter with Tiber, by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes, is a hard science fiction story for fans of space travel and colonization of the Moon and Mars. The long book (570 pages plus a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke and biographies of the authors) contains two related stories framed within a future historian’s voyage to Tiber.
One story starts with an alternative history of the end of the shuttle program and continues into the very near future with explorations of the Moon and Mars. This story is thick with detailed descriptions of technology and includes concepts familiar to fans of Aldrin’s writing, like the Mars to Earth cycler spacecraft. Indeed, long stretches of this story seems to lay a plot on top of his non-fiction book, Mission to Mars. Continue reading