Science Fiction and Poetry
My Road Goes Ever On
Science Fiction and Poetry take the human imagination into new territory, so we can rise above. We’re a determined race of beings who can—on occasion—rise above.
“SpaceX’s successfully launched four astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Nov. 10, 2021. They will arrive at the station Thursday evening. Known as Crew-3, the mission will mark SpaceX’s fourth crewed spaceflight and will ferry NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency Matthias Maurer on a six-month mission to the space station.” Space News
I find it rather startling that anyone would want to get into a spaceship, blast off Earth, and live on a space station for any length of time. Isn’t life precarious enough? Don’t we have problems a-plenty that need to be solved right here?
Yet that has never been the human trajectory. Rather like a seed that is not content to stay underground, we must break through the soil of our ordinary lives and reach for stars and the possibility of alien life in a reality we can’t fully comprehend.
As I deal with the most recent trial in the form of my father’s death, I have to face the fact that part of me would like to take a ride to a far-off uncertainty than deal with complex, often unpleasant, experiences here on Earth.
Perhaps that is why I enjoy writing science fiction and entering a different world with problems that aren’t mine. It is also why I enjoy writing poetry. A poem can get to the heart of human experience without any actual bloodshed. It wiggles between the barbs of misunderstanding, flounces right past correct judgment, and digs deep into shared truth.
Poetry is in a class by itself, bucking the system from the get-go. Though not always considered classy, rhyming poems offer me more than common-everyday prose. I like their feel and sound. I enjoy the challenge of finding words to fit a theme. But most importantly, I like how poems mean something even when they appear to be hanging upside down from a tree branch. In a poem, I can’t really be wrong or out of style, stupid or ignorant. I’m simply seeing. Feeling. Living through words. Becoming more than just me in a we-centered communion.
Perhaps that is how astronauts feel while circling the Earth. They literally are “above it all.” They fly high and see what they can see. Learn what they can learn. Like explorers of old, they take the human imagination into new territory. Writers attempt much the same. Reaching up on our tiptoes and then taking a leap into the air, which can’t possibly sustain us, we move from certainty into the “what if?” unknown. Though we can’t touch the sun or—as of yet—an alien hand, for a brief moment, we can see ourselves, our earthly existence, from a new perspective.
So, though I’m not heading out into space myself, I get it. Precarious as our lives may be, full of troubles aplenty, we’re also an amazingly strong, brave, inventive, creative, determined race of beings who can—on occasion—rise above.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
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