Thirteen Word Story: Desperate Restraint


Somehow, they restrained themselves until their children traveled among the stars.

Then: self-destruction.


I remember the Cold War, going to school in a designated nuclear shelter, the uneasy jokes about getting nuked, Reagan joking about nuking the Russians, ha-ha, ho-ho, we’re all going to die so let’s yuk it up black humor style.

But somehow we managed not to unleash the nasty nuke genie. And we still manage today. After seeing the horrors two bombs wrought on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we’ve managed to resist the temptation and continue to kill each other by less wholesale means, keep the torture and shooting and dronestriking down to a dull subnuclear roar.

When the day comes (I say when and not if out of hope that we’ll actually manage it, we self-sabotaging humans) that humanity has significant settlements off earth, I wonder if the gloves will come off. Once there are a million people on Mars, or in asteroid habitats, or on the far side of Luna, or on a planet around another star (should be be lucky enough to stumble into some sci-fi method of faster than light travel), will it sink in, that nuking each other now will not doom the human race?

Will that be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, that allows some politician to finally reason, hey, letting the nukes out isn’t such a big deal, even if we wipe life off the planet our descendants will live on, humanity will survive?

It’s a dark cold night, and my imagination is playing nasty games with me. I hope when you read this it’s sunny, and I’m wrong.


4 thoughts on “Thirteen Word Story: Desperate Restraint

Add yours

  1. One would think that colonizing “off planet” would require such a great deal of cross border cooperation that the idea of annihilating one another would become anathema. On the other hand, the farther generations are away from the spirit of cooperation, the less that spirit abides, the more likely such a possibility exists. One hopes you just had a bad cup of coffee today.

    1. 1: A “bad cup of coffee” is an exceedingly rare beast. Much like sex and pizza, bad coffee is almost always pretty good.

      2: I am often cynical.

      3: I’m pretty sure at least the major world powers could manage in-system colonization, and the solar system is large enough that it could absorb any population we could get off planet. I don’t think the solar system would be overpopulated short of hundreds of trillions of people.
      On the other hand, it would take a technological jump. But enough detente internationally to allow the major powers to shift half of their military budget to entering space strongly would probably get us significant colonization of the solar system in only a few generations, without international cooperation.

      Science Fiction conventions of one-nation-world aliens, though, say a one world state is a prerequisite for moving into space. A one world state Earth would make it a lot easier, but I don’t know that it’s necessary or that it’s even likely.

  2. I can relate to 2, but I find I am far more optimistic since 1989 (this year being the first to truly challenge that optimism). I agree with 3. But coffee, like wine, is great when it is good and horrid when it is a bit bad.

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