In the case of space travel, except for a few biographies, our only source for stories is science fiction. More specifically, I’m referring to older science fiction. Stuff written in the 40s through the 60s. Back then, many writers (Heinlein, Clarke, Correy, etc.) were writing about the travel itself instead of just using the travel as a tool to get the characters to where they need to be. The authors often tried to be as realistic as possible (given current knowledge) because they were trying to describe something that hadn’t happened yet but could. A large number of those early authors were scientists and engineers.
Many of the space travel stories written then are short stories. I think that this is ideal because short stories allow you to experience many different scenarios in a relatively short amount of time. I tend to think of “idea density” when I think of those stories. Granted they were short on personal drama and interaction but that was because the people were there to serve the story rather than the other way around. That kind of writing doesn’t seem to be acceptable in today’s market where readers expect 2-3 pages about how the captain of the starship feels about the breakfast he just ate. In those older stories, breakfast would only be mentioned if it was germane to the plot (such as low food stores). That allows a fairly complex plot to fit into the short story format.
Even when the science is wrong, you get the chance to think about how it is wrong which helps lock in your own learning and the way the characters think to recognize, analyze and solve the problems is still very useful. Today’s pre-packaged world doesn’t train us to think that way but space will be a new, deadly, environment. Our resources will be what we can haul up from Earth (at great expense), what we can make from the resources we find out there, and our brains.
So, go read stories written by people who were thinking about it for the first time and train your brain to solve the problems we will face in the dark skies.
*Reading may be required unless there is a recording of the book and you can hear it
*Any age works as you can read to the very young
*No cost if you find the books in your local library, used book stores may provide low cost options and there are now some nice online swap or lending sites
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