The lectures from this unit, especially chapter 11 about the Jovian planets, reminded me of one of my favorite books; Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. The novel is a comical science fiction story that chronicles the origin of Malachi Constant, a profit predestined to be sent into space and return to start a new religion on Earth. Winston Niles Rutherford is a wealthy space explorer who, as a result of being launched into the chrono-synclastic infundibulum which allowed him to experience all space and time, was able to prophesize Malachi Constant’s life path. This life path includes spending time in the Martian army, on Mercury, and stranded in a deep cave on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Malachi’s time on Titan is arguably the impetus to his future as a religious figurehead. Although entirely based on science fiction, the description of living on Titan made me even more excited to learn in class that a probe from the European Space Agency has landed on Titan. Titan is one of the few bodies in the outer solar system to which humans have sent a landing probe successfully.
In addition to exploring life in space, Vonnegut also delves into the concept of predestination. Rutherford was able to predict the entirety of Malachi’s life but could not allow him to forgo the necessary pain in the path to get there. At the beginning of the book, Malachi is a morally dubious character who tries to prevent these events from taking place. However, all of his actions end up leading him towards his destiny. This novel brings up a lot of the other moral implications of humans moving forward with space travel. Considering what I have learned in class, I choose to agree with Vonnegut and look ahead towards furthering the exploration of space.