Continuing with themes in the stories for Lunatics… Here’s number three:
Fatalism versus Can-Do on the Frontier
One of the unfortunate memes in movie science fiction — especially
European SF for some reason — is the recurrence of the “noble sacrifice
of life” or of the triumph of hopelessness and fatalism. Some character
inevitably concludes that it’s all pointless and takes their helmet off
to die in the “cold hard vacuum of space”. I guess this is supposed to
be symbolic of something or other, but I find it incredibly annoying.
Real space pioneers just won’t act like that. Being on a frontier really
focuses you on basic survival needs.
Supposedly, Neil Armstrong was once asked what would happen if something
went wrong with the ascent engine on the Apollo LM. How would he spend his
last hours of life? Would he perform one last experiment? Would he send messages
home to his loved ones? His reply, though, was short and pragmatic: “I imagine
we’d be working on that engine.” That’s the kind of attitude that rings true
for me (I believe this story was originally told by Walter Cronkite).