Forgive this lighthearted post. It might be the drugs I’m taking for my very bad cold, or it might be the fact that I have been spending so much time with my kids while they are on a school break. But it might also be that my cat has been staring at me for days like she has something to say…
I’ve been reading some sci-fi with my daughter lately, and we got into Anne McCaffrey’s series about the Barque Cats.
Last week we were reading Catalyst. Second in the series, and the book in which the cats actually become as telepathic as they want to be, it’s a perfect level for my eleven year old daughter. And I have to admit I enjoyed it as well.
I am a cat lover, although some might feel otherwise (see my interview on Writer and Cat here and my cat, Mittens’ response here) I treat my kitty very well. But would I take her into the dangers of space? From what I can see, kitties do not enjoy the weightless result of having the gravity turned off.
In McCaffrey’s world the Barque cats have been specially bred to help on spacecraft to do their usual duties – ridding the ships of inevitable vermin – but also to look for air leaks. I suspect that given time, cats really will be put to this kind of work. I mean why try to formulate some sort of robotic creature to do this kind of work when we could bring along our furry little pals and enjoy the secondary benefit of comfort that petting them brings to us humans? The drawbacks of having a litterbox in space aside, I would think that cats take up little room, are low-tech (and thus subject to far fewer breakdowns) lovable and really they do their jobs very well.
I was watching Firefly the other day and wondered about horses being on the outer worlds and it was pointed out to me that they were there for the same reasons I expect cats would be. As above, they do their jobs well in terms of transporting people and hauling goods, yet they do not need processed fuels to operate.
So I wonder, if we could take horses with us, and cats, and one assumes we might take dogs – for protection, or company – what else might we take with us as we explore and settle? Art, literature, the things that make us human, but what other beings from this world will travel with us once we begin to leave en masse? I can only hope we might leave some of the insect critters behind, but I suspect that is not the reality.
What do you think will travel with us?