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Why do we need tales about "Strange adventures on other worlds, the universe of the future"?
T.K.F. Weisskopf 

"To imagine is not to fashion charming make-believe. . . . Out of the known or knowable, Imagination connects the remote, reinterprets the familiar, or discovers hidden realities."


—From From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, Jacques Barzun



As I write this it is the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight off the North Carolina dunes. And I have come to realize that I am not going to be living in the age of humanity's great expansion into space. I will not be on the Nina, the Pinta nor the Santa Maria, let alone the Mayflower. Instead, I am living in the age of St. Brendan and Lief the Lucky. I can witness humanity's first tentative steps in the direction of the endless frontier—but the chances of me, personally, getting out there are small. Still, at least I can read stories about it! If we as a species are going to get there, we have to remember that we want to go.

I've long thought that it's one of science fiction's most important jobs to explore the future in fiction. Decisions about what kind of future we want to aim for can be played out in the pages of our magazines and novels. As Travis Taylor's story and article illustrate, the dreams of the writers become the dreams of the engineers and scientists who shape the direction of our technology. You want to make a difference in the world—write science fiction that will touch the hearts of these people.

It seems obvious to me that staying on one planet is a dead end for humanity. And I like humanity, in general, if not all its specific manifestations. Flush from conquering a new continent Americans of the early twentieth century had a positive vision of the future. We in the West went from horse-drawn carriages to rockets in less than fifty years. Now, in darker times, we seem to be on the road to losing the stars, losing the urge to explore. Science fiction needs to clear away the light pollution and show us the glories of the stars again. Show us where we can go next. Show us where progress should lead.

One of the most positive visions we can have of the conquest of space is that it will be strange and dangerous, but also in some ways familiar. There will be humans, living their everyday lives, albeit in exotic locations and only because of amazing technological developments. Several of the stories herein describe that kind of existence. And some take us a little farther beyond. . . . There is beauty and wonder in this universe, and whether man makes it his business or God ordains it, it is a noble calling to answer to destiny, search that wonder out and reveal it for future generations.


If you'd like to see more Cosmic Tales, there will be another volume coming out later in 2004, Adventures in Far Futures. If you'd like to see more beyond that, or to comment on these volumes, write to me care of

Baen Books,
P.O. Box 1403,
Riverdale, NY 10471.

Or you can write directly to me at

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