Image: Gerald Driggers discussing a near-term infrastructure that will one day support interstellar missions.

The Long Result

by PAUL GILSTER on FEBRUARY 11, 2013

I conceived an early love for Tennyson, but it wasn’t until a bit later in life that I ran into his “Locksley Hall,” which contains lines many science fiction fans are familiar with:

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

Here about the beach I wander’d, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.—

and so on. The poem is the lament of a soldier returning to the places of his boyhood and eventually turning his thoughts, and his resolve, on the future. When I read the line ‘the long result of time,’ I realized that it was here that I found resonance with the poet. The idea of a remote futurity and the need to build its foundations now was a powerful motivator.

Building Structures That Last

A sense of that futurity pervaded our recent sessions at the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop in Huntsville. Several speakers alluded to instances in human history where people looked well beyond their own generation, a natural thought for a conference discussing technologies that might take decades if not centuries to achieve. We talked about a solar power project that might take 35 years, or perhaps 50 (much more about this in coming days).

Read more: The Long Result — Centauri Dreams.

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