Frontiers woman

Friday 22nd July 2011

STAR Trek is not to everyone’s liking: comic strip banality; shallow-depth characters; special effects crafted from latex, cardboard and neat software. Good’s weekly triumph over evil is never going to win a prestigious award for literary profundity or aesthetic enlightenment.

It’s brilliant. I love it.

Mum had just turned thirty when I was born. Keeping the gap between our ages to a round number was a logical step. She wouldn’t have come across Spock’s best-selling Baby and Child Care, which was only available in Vulcan at the time.

Images of Kirk and crew aboard the USS Enterprise were first beamed to our television screens in the ’60s, when NASA was frequently sending manned missions into both Earth and lunar orbits. After taking Mum to see a classic Kubrick film set in 2001, I asked if she thought I’d ever get to walk on the Moon.

“Let’s go together,” she replied.

It seemed not implausible when we settled on the year 2000: for her eightieth, my fiftieth.

Cinematography still boldly goes where nobody could have imagined. Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica have taken us to galaxies not yet spotted by the Hubble telescope. Yesterday’s final landing of the shuttle Atlantis, however, suggests it will be many years before ‘Astronauts Wanted’ signs appear in vacancies columns.

People thrive on visions. The desire to explore strange new worlds is hard-wired. I don’t think the world owes us a living, but there’s no harm, surely, in asking for a small Lunar Base, permanently occupied, where scientists carry out experiments, traverse cratered surfaces in spacesuits, and peer out, on our behalf, at the wonder of the celestial beauty above.

Such a base would be an invaluable way of uniting humankind, especially if its main purpose was hosting random guests from every nation on Earth.

Mum was an able mathematician, her first job title ‘computer’. When my time machine’s finished, I shall pop back and take her to Lunar Base for a treat. Today would have been her 91st birthday.

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