R.W.W. Greene’s story “They Build ‘Em Tough on Magna Mater” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 10 July 2020. Metaphorosis

I guess this story has its origins in the Kevin Bacon movie “Footloose”. There’s an awesome/ridiculous scene wherein Ren (Kevin Bacon) and the Jerk Guy are playing chicken on tractors. I won’t tell you how the tractor duel came out, but I took this scene into the context of my own semi-rural upbringing and came up with the ideas of bored farm boys drinking ‘shine and brawling with their mechs on the weekend. (It’s not too far from reality. Most of us were scarred from running dirt bikes into electric fences or flipping over on three-wheelers out in someone’s back forty.)

The rest of the story lined up from there. Family obligations and the difficulties inherent in building a new home from scratch. I have this idea that the entertainment on any colony mission would trend heavily into frontier dramas — “Little House on the Prairie”, “Jeremiah Johnson”, etc. — to get the travelers into the pioneer headspace. Otherwise, I’d think it would be mighty hard to get folks to leave the comforts of their generation ships.

And who knows what waits in the rivers and streams of those new worlds? It would be a massive struggle at first, false steps, new plans, experiments…

I do wonder sometimes if we’re still capable of making the leap or if we’ve gotten way too soft.


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