Saturday, February 28, 2015

Clive Cussler - Two Thumbs Up

I was lamenting to a friend that science fiction is ignoring robotic advances and the near term possibilities they create. He replied "You must read Clive Cussler. I wouldn't call him a science fiction writer but he uses ROVs a lot. DARPA, the military and mining entities show up in most of his stories. I know you will like the characters from NUMA."

I took his advice and am now 3 books into the adventures of Dirk Pitt and friends. Not high literature by any means. Just entertaining, satisfying adventure yarns. And Cussler does his homework. The printed words in his books are the tip of a large iceberg. It is obvious many hours of research lie beneath the surface of each story. Cussler's interests are eclectic. He likes to study engineering and technology. Also biology, oceanography, chemistry, geology, archeology, art, history, culture, food, religion, etc., etc. Each book I've learned new stuff from many different fields.

Why am I so fired up about ROVs, AUVs, etc? It is my belief advancing robotics will be the game changer that opens the door to space, the final frontier. Cussler's stories are more relevant to space exploration than most current science fiction.

Already remotely operated robots are doing work in places too dangerous or hard to reach for human workers. This technology is being advanced by many players: DARPA, NOAA, British Petroleum, Rio Tinto, the military and others.

It is interesting that Google bought up the best performers in a recent DARPA robotics competition. Google has also invested in Planetary Resources and SpaceX as well as funded the Google Lunar X-Prize. Dot com billionaires opening the door to space could be a rich vein for story tellers.

On my wish list: Cussler taking a look at the void that lies between us and our neighbors in the solar system. Asteroids and planets are islands and continents in an ocean that extends past all horizons.