[ inspired by Stephen Baxter’s Destiny’s Children sequence of books ]
Stephen Baxter’s books lay out the possibility of the mapping of vast expanses of space and time. To not only know and classify and occupy an entire galaxy (and beyond), but to be able to know the entire history of humankind. To know our beginning and our end, our birth and our ultimate destiny. The lifespan of a race, the unexpurgated autobiography of a species. Of course, Stephen Baxter’s vision is only one possible timeline, one possible cosmic map… I have to keep reminding myself of this! But just the idea of achieving some kind of temporal/physical completion… is both wonderful and terrifying.
What is the point of living if we can see how it will all turn out? How can there be any novelty, excitement, adventure, ambition, purpose – beyond achieving the fulfilment of our vanishingly minute pin-prick of a role within the vast, universal scheme of things? What is the point of striving if there is nothing to hope for apart from what we already know?
Even in Stephen Baxter’s all-encompassing vision, there is uncertainty. Uncertainty is built into the structure of the universe. Time and space would not exist if there were not elements of chance, of randomness. And while randomness is at the core of things, it will always win out. Between the stars, between the points in time, there are infinite possible paths. There is infinite randomness. However large our maps, however detailed our history books, there will always be infinite gradations of possibility between that which we think we know and that which we don’t know. There will always be hope… that things won’t turn out the way we expect.