Humans have always been kind of obsessive about space, so the recent glut of space themed entertainment is not necessarily surprising. Even NASA has gotten in the game again (after a few years of coyly telling everyone they were going to focus on Earth-related issues), and getting ready to launch astronauts both to Mars and to Deep Space (which needs to be capitalized, I decided.) Space craze seems to be ramping up, and we can look forward to seeing lots of space as a genre in future years.
In past years we had both Gravity and Interstellar, this year we will be graced with a new Star Wars as well as The Martian, based off of the AWESOME book of the same name, by Andy Weir. I highly recommend the book, it’s fantastic. I laughed, cried and actually learned a lot about horticulture. Although the ending of Interstellar has been hotly debated, all of these stories speak to humanity’s ingenuity in the face of obstacles, of our ability to rise, literally, above our earthly bonds. (Maybe not as much for Star Wars, but the fact that Harrison Ford is returning basically creates the same sort of feeling).
So is that why everyone going crazy about space right now? Because we want to feel good? Or are we just over apocalyptic zombies and Game of Thrones/medieval fantasy world-esque scenarios? Is space just the “it” location for sci-fi and fantasy nerd (which is everyone in this Age of the New Nerd). With our “newly” shortened attention spans, we cannot focus on on type of fantastical background for more than a season or three.
Or is our current obsession with space related themes derived from a much darker urge; our dissatisfaction with Earth. We seem to be living in a choose-your-own-impending-doom world, where we can pick from a variety of demises, such as, but not limited to; global warming, the escalation of nanotechnology and AI technology, or maybe less “sci-fi” fears, like rampant gun violence in the US, or the nauseating rise of Donald Trump. The future is a scary place, and maybe it’s easier to imagine it in a galaxy far, far away.
Capitalizing on humanity’s bleaker fears for the future, Paramount plans to release the movie adaptation of Annihilation (which I covered here), in 2016. It promises to terrify its viewers with a chaotic, incomprehensible universe. There is also the very interesting new alien invasion book, Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor. Okorafor wonders what would happen if aliens decided to invade Earth- but they started in Lagos, Nigeria.
Maybe our interest in space related media is none of these things, but all of these things at the same time. Space, the final frontier, is where humanity projects its grandest hopes and grimmest fears. Our current space craze is nothing new, but it’s presenting itself in exciting and challenging ways. Space seems to invite human storytellers to push their creative boundaries and make us question everything we know. I have a feeling that whatever NASA finds out there in Deep Space will be even stranger than the fictions that humans have created.