August 2, 2009

Under The Frozen Sky

Herzog's FilmThe past week, I've been watching bits of Werner Hertzog's documentary called "Adventure at the End of the World".
In the segment "Under The Frozen Sky" of this rare film, it shows what it looks like below the frozen ice of Antartica.
Beneath the ice and under the "frozen sky" is an other-worldly landscape home to uncanny creatures that thrive within it's extreme cold. It's a place where the "clouds" are bubbles of air trapped underneath a bluish ceiling, sliding like mercury along the contours of the ice.
My growing desire to glimpse other worlds and lifeforms mesmerizes me whenever I learn about new wonders of Earth. Antartica is a wonderful place. But at one point the film mentioned that the challenge of human adventure and our thirst for the unknown seems to have ended in this cold desolate part of our planet.Jellyfish
"On a Cultural Level, it meant the end of adventure" when the last unknown spots of the earth was exposed and "Human adventure...lost it's meaning", the narrator says.
I felt a certain sense of bleakness at this thought.
However, when Herzog mentioned that Antartica "comes closest to what a future space settlement would look like", I sprang with renewed enthusiasm. And this enthusiasm was fed further by the timely arrival of Apex Magazine in my mailbox yesterday. Upon which my attention was immediately caught by Jeff Carlson's novelette curiously entitled "The Frozen Sky".
It was set in the sixth moon of Jupiter, Europa.Apex Magazine
And when i began reading it, I couldn't stop. The narrative blended so well with the science behind a world yet to be explored. It gripped me, a world with a crust of thick ice, possibly riddled with exotic alien lifeforms hidden underneath. Suddenly, the scenes from "Under The Frozen Sky" played back in mind.EuropaThe Frozen Sky is an example of the kind of science fiction that I want to read in the coming era of exoplanet discoveries. Soon I hope to read stories where the exoplanetary world used as a setting is given as much personality as the characters themselves. And I would like the science behind the story to be imaginatively elegant, so as to be almost theoretical.
Narratives have that amazing quality to educate and to inspire. And it would be great to start a cycle of ideas flowing between new exoplanet discoveries and science fiction. Imagine all the new inspiration it would bring for space travel, for human adventure, and desire for discovering new wonders.