The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in 8 Easy Steps
By Marshall T. Savage
This is the complete introduction from the first edition published by Empyrean Publishing. Little, Brown and Co. picked it up in August and Arthur C. Clarke provided an exceptional introduction. Look for it in your local book store today!
. . .our expansion into the universe is not just an expansion of men and machines. It is an expansion of all life, making use of man's brain for her own purposes. --Freeman Dyson
Now is the watershed of Cosmic history. We stand at the threshold of the New Millennium. Behind us yawn the chasms of the primordial past, when this universe was a dead and silent place; before us rise the broad sunlit uplands of a living cosmos. In the next few galactic seconds, the fate of the universe will be decided. Life--the ultimate experiment--will either explode into space and engulf the star-clouds in a fire storm of children, trees, and butterfly wings; or Life will fail, fizzle, and gutter out, leaving the universe shrouded forever in impenetrable blankness, devoid of hope.
Teetering here on the fulcrum of destiny stands our own bemused species. The future of the universe hinges on what we do next. If we take up the sacred fire, and stride forth into space as the torchbearers of Life, this universe will be aborning. If we carry the green fire-brand from star to star, and ignite around each a conflagration of vitality, we can trigger a Universal metamorphosis. Because of us, the barren dusts of a million billion worlds will coil up into the pulsing magic forms of animate matter. Because of us, landscapes of radiation blasted waste, will be miraculously transmuted: Slag will become soil, grass will sprout, flowers will bloom, and forests will spring up in once sterile places. Ice, hard as iron, will melt and trickle into pools where starfish, anemones, and seashells dwell--a whole frozen universe will thaw and transmogrify, from howling desolation to blossoming paradise. Dust into Life; the very alchemy of God.
If we deny our awesome challenge; turn our backs on the living universe, and forsake our cosmic destiny, we will commit a crime of unutterable magnitude. mankind alone has the power to carry out this fundamental change in the universe. Our failure would lead to consequences unthinkable. This is perhaps the first and only chance the universe will ever have to awaken from its long night and live. We are the caretakers of this delicate spark of Life. To let it flicker and die through ignorance, neglect, or lack of imagination is a horror too great to contemplate.
The stars are our destiny. They are our legacy. Strewn like diamonds on a field of black velvet, they lie waiting for the hand of man to pluck them up. Star clusters coruscate like diadems of the precious gems. The glut of space is like some huge versions of Ali Baba's cave, crammed with jewels and riches beyond counting.
Scanning the star clouds of the Milky Way with the beacon of the mind's eye, we see that it is wholly uninhabited. All these treasures strewn before us are free for the taking. There is no guardian genie. There are no alien owners to be bargained with, no evil empires to be vanquished, not even a galactic bureaucracy to demand emigration forms in triplicate. The galaxy is free and open now in a way it never will be again. Our species can skate across the glassy spaces, sliding unfettered through the blizzard of stars, skimming down the frosty spiral arms to the snowy banks of the galactic nucleus.
For better or worse, Life has evolved Homo Sapiens as the active agent of her purpose. We are the sentient tool-users. Perhaps Life should have bet on the dolphins. But, she put her money on us, and there is no time left for second guesses. Life has endowed us the with power to conquer the galaxy, and our destiny awaits us there, among the powdery star-fields of deep space. Now we must spring from our home planet and carry the living flame into the sterile wastes. It is time to return the gift of Prometheus to the heavens.
To fulfill our cosmic destiny and carry Life to the stars we must act quickly. The same unleashed powers that enable us t enliven the universe are now, ironically, causing us to destroy the Earth. The longer we delay, the further we may slip into a pit of our own digging. If we wait too long, we will be swept into a world so poisoned by pollution, so overrun by masses of starving people, so stripped of surplus resources, that there will be no chance to ever leave this planet. Thus far, we have failed to use our new powers for the ends they were intended. The result is an accelerating slide toward disaster.
The litany of eco-crisis is numbingly familiar--like a Gregorian chant of doom the ozone hole, the greenhouse effect, deforestation, desertification, overpopulation. Woe, lamentation and gnashing of teeth. If you are still unaware of the emergency, you must already live on Mars.
The crisis is driven by the exponential explosion of human numbers. A hundred million new people enter the world each ear. A new population the size of Iran every five months. Where will all of these new people live? What will they eat? What prospect for the future do they have?
There is no way, short of nuclear war, plague, or famine, to prevent human numbers from doubling. the parents of tomorrow have already been born, and when they bear children of their own, the global population will surge.
Our situation is analogous to yeast in a bottle. The yeast cells will double their number every day until the bottle is full--then they will all die. If the yeast die on the 30th day, then on what day is the bottle half full? The 29th day! We are in the 29th day of our history on Earth. We must do something now, or face extinction.
The obvious answer is to blow the lid of this bottle! We need to rupture the barriers that confine us to the land mass of a single planet. By breaking out, we can assure our survival and the continuation of Life.
Space beckons us. It is the clarion call of destiny. We are still evolving as a species and Life is still evolving as a force of nature. Only by leaving the womb of Mother Earth can man and Life survive and mature.
Within a thousand years, we will break forever the bonds of gravity and soar freely among the stars. This Great Divide in the topography of time coincides with the dawn of the Third Millennium. The coming Millennium is the Age of Aquarius--prelude to the endless emerald epoch of Life's galactic empire.
Life is too precious a thing in the Cosmos not to be preserved at all costs. It is entirely possible that ours is the only living planet in the universe. Throughout the star clouds of the Milky Way, planets probably team by the hundreds of millions. But every one may be as dead and sterile as our own moon. Those myriad empty worlds could be just so many particles of barren galactic dust.
Yet, out of the margin of this vast slag-heap of stellar debris, there blows a single magic scintilla of blue-green living light. Like a lone incandescent spark in an endless landscape of cinders--this is Gaia. Earth, a single tiny glimmer of Life, utterly and eternally alone. And yet, for all our microscopic insignificance, we have the potential to suffuse our green fire through every granule of the whole lifeless pile. What is such a spark worth do you suppose? How many of the lifeless worlds would you give in exchange for the one living one? It is like asking how much coal ash you would trade for the Hope Diamond.
Consider for a moment the implications if we are alone: Then the entire responsibility for Life in the Cosmos is ours to bear. Compared to this duty, the burden of Atlas was nothing. As the sole caretakers of Life it is our sacred duty not only to preserve Life here on Earth, but also to disseminate the magic among the stars.
The universe may teem with Life. We don't know that it doesn't. Conversely we don't know that it does. The bottom line is that as far as we know, this planet holds the only reservoir of Life Force in the Cosmos. Until we find out otherwise, it is incumbent upon us to act as if the Earth is the lone spark in ten billion parsecs of frozen desolation.
This book presents a plan of action for building a stairway to the stars. Step by step we can pile up the cyclopean stones; like the mythic Titans we will heap Ossa on Pelion on Olympus, erecting a pyramid to touch the heavens
The message of this book is a simple one: the stars are within our reach. We now have the capacity, economically and technically, to leave this planet and begin the infinite task of enlivening the universe. We can accomplish our ends in eight easy steps: First, we will lay the Foundation, uniting ourselves around the green banner of Cosmic destiny. Then we will grow a crystalline city, floating on the waves of the sea. With power from the ocean we will launch ourselves into space, propelled aloft by a rainbow-hued array of lasers. In orbit above the Earth, we will inflate gleaming golden bubbles to shelter our new generation of space dwelling people. On the face of the Moon, we will cap the craters with glistening domes, each sheltering a green oasis of life. Mars will be transformed into a glorious gem of blue oceans and swirling white clouds, vibrant and alive as Gaia herself. Among the asteroids we will strew a spreading ring-cloud of billions of billions of bubbles of life, shimmering like a galaxy of golden sparks. Finally in the latter half of the Millennium, space arks will carry human colonists across the interstellar gulfs to inseminate new worlds with the chartreuse elixir of Life. By Millennium's end the night sky will twinkle with a handful of emerald stars--the initial scattering of our celestial seeds. From this first planting will spring a growing forest of living solar systems. Life will explode through the star clouds like beryllian fire through flash powder. Within a thousand millennia, the whole majestic pinwheel of the Milky Way, will be saturated with the lush aquamarine light of a hundred billion living suns. We will have created a living galaxy--seed of a living universe. Then the animate flame will leap the firebreak between galaxies and ignite new blazes among the great star clusters in the outer universe. The process will continue, unremitting, for the eternal lifetime of the Cosmos. (But of this I do not speculate. I am just a simple home-boy, and take no great interest in anything much beyond the Magellanic Clouds.)
A million years from now, our descendants will populate this galaxy. From the red dwarves of the globular clusters to the blue giants of the galactic nucleus, a hundred billion stars will shine on the homes of a trillion trillion human beings. Their civilizations will span the heavens with powers transcending the feeble reach of our imaginations. Yet, each person of that countless multitude will look back in space and time to a tiny yellow star out on the rim of the Orion Arm. In their grandeur and their glory these demigods for a future time will remember us, and think of how it all began.
- THE MOON BASE RACE
- by Marshall Savage, July 1, 2001 in Wired Magazine