Sep 29, 2015

Earth-Space War

cover art by Philippe Cazaumayou
I've previously blogged about the fact that I never read Isaac Asimov's mystery novel, The Caves of Steel. Just to be clear, I've also never read The Naked Sun. In his recent review of The Naked Sun, "The Kalpar" wrote that he read it after having previously read Asimov's Foundation and Earth. Asimov's 1986 novel contains a huge spoiler for the mystery of the "disappearing" Solarians (a mystery left dangling in Asimov's robot novels). That's the kind of unfortunate time warp that readers of Asimov's fiction can now fall into. Folks should read Asimov's novels in the order that they were written.

Asimov's Struggle with Aliens
Foundations of Eternity
The Kalpar's review of Foundation and Earth is worth reading. I think Asimov was himself a bit dismayed by the prospect of Galaxia as a possible type of future for Humanity. I'd label the entire Foundation Fictional Universe as dystopian.

And there is nothing wrong with readers being a bit annoyed to see Asimov paint himself into a corner with respect to mysterious unseen aliens from beyond our galaxy. The whole "humans-only-galaxy" was an artificial construct that was forced upon Asimov by a pushy editor. My response to my personal uneasiness over the klunky end of the great Foundation Saga was to write Foundations of Eternity.

Gladia Solaria by Snyehola
Asimov introduced the character Gladia Delmarre in The Naked Sun and later brought her back to star in the two robot novels that I have read, The Robots of Dawn and Robots and Empire. In The Naked Sun, Police detective Baley travels from Earth to the planet Solaria in order to investigate the death of Gladia's husband.

Baley, an agoraphobic resident of Earth's underground cities, has to deal with his fears of being outside under the naked sun of Solaria. The people of Solaria have their own phobias, particularly a fear of physical contact with other people, particularly the unclean people of Earth such as Baley.

Lady Gladia by DarthCrotalus
Gladia is accustomed to viewing people by videophone and apparently Asimov wrote a scene in The Naked Sun in which Baley calls up Gladia for a chat about her dead husband and she appears on the videophone naked since she has not bothered to get dressed for the interview.

There are hundreds of accounts of how Asimov "predicted the future" in his science fiction stories. Now that most people have access to digital photography and ways to share their images, we are learning that many people have no qualms about putting their bodies on display. I have fun imagining that in the Ekcolir Reality (the alternative timeline that existed before the world as we know it), there never was a period in the history of Western Civilization when the human body was taboo.

Climate Fiction
I've never been able to take seriously Asimov's idea that in another 2,000 years, the people of Earth will all be living in "caves" (cities) and they all will fear being outdoors. However, for the Exode Trilogy, I've been investigating the differences between our world and Earth as it was in the Ekcolir Reality and I've learned that there were some similarities between life in the Ekcolir Reality and life in Asimov's imagined future. In the previous Reality, the Fru'wu provided Earth with a "technological fix" for global warming. In the Ekcolir Reality, due to a slightly fster rate of technological advance, sea level rise started to become a problem in the 20th century. The Fru'wu then began beaming solar energy to Earth from Mercury and with the availability of that cheap energy source, the use of fossil fuels declined dramatically and atmospheric CO2 levels stabilized.

Climate Fiction
However, the Fru'wu did not confine themselves to only providing Earth with a hierion receiver. The humans of Earth were also given some primitive nanotechnology that allowed for the creation of space elevators and orbital space colonies. Gohrlay recently filled me in on what "went wrong" and how Earth still ended up with a runaway green house effect that melted the antarctic ice cap. The Fru'wu "help" provided to Earth actually backfired.

the basis of super-strong materials
The Earth-Spacer Conflict
A nasty war developed between the "spacers" who lived in the orbital colonies (and were also spreading through the entire Solar System) and the people who remained on Earth. Finally, an orbiting hierion receiver was constructed and Earth was cut off from the flow of clean energy coming from Mercury. The people of Earth went back to using fossil fuels, at a rate greater than ever before.

Rockets and Ray Guns: the Golden Age of space war
Based on Gohrlay's description of events, Earth in the Ekcolir Reality had many similarities to the future that Asimov painted for The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun. The coastal cities of Earth were encased in domes and became underwater cities. Eventually the Earth-Space war ended since there was little difference in the social systems of Earth's great underwater cities and the orbital cities in space. But by the end of the war, Earth was trapped in an ecological nightmare with the oceans little more than a vast acidic wasteland.

Next: Gohrlay provides more insight into the Earth-Space war.
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