"No less a critic than C. S. Lewis has described the ravenous addiction that these magazines inspired; the same phenomenon has led me to call science fiction the only genuine consciousness-expanding drug." Arthur C. Clarke

Chinese in Space

English: China Xichang Satellite Center; The l...

Image via Wikipedia

It has been announced recently that China, who traditionally has not been particularly active in the space race, will make a strong push in the next five years to become a power in space.  It seems, as did the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960’s and 70’s, that economic domination fuels space exploration, more than a bit obviously.  As both of the two Cold War powers scale back their space exploration due to budgeting, the Chinese are beginning to use their newfound worldwide wealth to build up their space industry.  By the end of 2016 it plans to launch space laboratories, manned spaceships, and be technologically prepared to build space stations.

Conventionally (and especially in my favorite era), science fiction writers have extrapolated one of three scenarios for the exploration/colonization of space: either a two-country, Cold-War era race between the successor states to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. or a worldwide effort, by a cooperative effort by many states (as inspired by the International Space Station) or by a future one-state world.

Now, with the rise of this Chinese effort (along with the addition of space efforts by other countries such as Japan, the European Union, and India, as well as efforts by private companies) we must examine the possibility that space could be explored by many separate entities, with different technologies, goals, and ideals.  It could change much about the way diplomacy works: dealing with states occupying different planets, the distances between them, and the way war would work in space (which has certainly been thought about in many different ways).

This Chinese effort has certainly made me think about the changes to the way state-building and diplomacy in space would happen.  This, along with future development, should mark a shift in reaction for science-fiction as a whole.

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