“Final Frontier: A Sci-fi Celebration of the Indomitable Spirit That Carried Humanity to the Moon,” edited by C. Stuart Hardwick, GotScifi Group, 2019, 325 pages, $14.87

It has been 50 years since the first moon landing. Those alive then remember the excitement. The president called it the proudest day of our lives. For many it was.

“Final Frontier: A Sci-fi Celebration of the Indomitable Spirit That Carried Humanity to the Moon,” edited by Galvestonian C. Stuart Hardwick, is a science fiction anthology with lunar exploration as the theme.

The book is a collection of a dozen short stories and two poems sharing the theme of space exploration. Most are reprints and of the short stories, four have won awards. All are worth reading.

They are the type of science fiction you would have expected to be published during the years of the run-up to Apollo: hard science fiction set (or starting in) the solar system, dealing with either life in interplanetary space or exploring the solar system. Even the first story, “The Rocket Maker,” an off-beat story about a custodian at a Central American airport attempting to build a moon rocket qualifies as science fiction despite surrealistic touches.

All, except a song by Spider Robinson, were written in this century. Space exploration still kindles a flame in authors and readers.

The stories are a nice mix of science fiction themes: thrillers, standard exploration stories, a rescue or two and some alternate history. There’s something for all science fiction fans.

The book is the work of the new generation of science fiction writers. Besides Spider Robinson, contributors include Mike Barretta, Marianne Dyson, Sean Monaghan, K. B. Rylander, Matthew Rotundo, Ronald Ferguson, Martin Shoemaker, Nancy Fulda, Philip Kramer, David Levin, Patrick Lundrigan, David Walton, and editor Hardwick. If you haven’t heard of them before, odds are you will become familiar with them in the future.

You would think space exploration stories would be an old hat — contemporary fiction rather than science fiction, at least. Except while the first moon landing was 50 years ago, the last time man walked on the moon was 46 years ago. Moon exploration remains firmly fixed in science fiction.

As the “The Final Frontier” shows, moon missions and solar system exploration still make entertaining fiction.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

(3) comments

Gary Miller

Human lifespans are so short, spaceships so slow and space so large we are probably limited to this solar system. Six miles a second seems fast until compared with the speeds of nature. Our home planet circles our sun at 800,000 miles an hour. Light traverses the universe at 700,000,000 miles an hour and takes 13 or 14 billion years to make one crossing. At 6 miles a second, as fast as we can go, it will take a lifetime to reach the outer limits of this solar system with the next one still hundreds of lifetimes away.

Gary Miller

Six miles a second = 21,800 miles an hour. Science believes that is the maximum limit of chemical fuel propulsion. Every thing faster so far is no more than "day dreaming".

Bailey Jones

I grew up on Heinlein, but a lot of his social ideas are terribly dated now. Glad to see a new generation of writers for a new generation of readers. In my old age, science fiction doesn't much interest me anymore, science fact is where the fun is.

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