It's the year 2XXX.
Humanity is on the verge of another dark age and our best minds look to the stars for escape.
Unfortunately, a few centuries of expeditions have yielded some painful lessons on intergenerational living, the most important of which is:
We cannot live on other planets
Terraforming Mars, the “easiest” new world, proved too energy intensive to be sustainable. Even with the most effective methods and tools, the synthesis of an earth-like biosphere remains orders-of-magnitudes beyond our industrial capacity.
On a smaller scale, the interconnected habitats of once-"settled" planets have torn themselves to pieces. Expansion beyond the initial thrust of colonization is met with consistent failure: tools manufactured cheaply on earth break routinely, resource mining, refinement, transportation are prohibitively expensive, and a single accident can portend casualties in the thousands.
Faced with unending attrition, some colonies adopt rigid social systems that eventually strangle their development. In less-stable societies even, successive generation of colonists will exterminate the preceding for their living space and rations. In all cases: stagnation followed by self-destruction.
And this is only the small percentage of planets thats exist in "habitable” zones of solar systems within range of our flimsy starships.
Unlike Earth's "Mother Nature" that was amenable to our coming-of-age, the alien natures that we intended to tame, have instead rejected us. Thoroughly. They have bankrupted major nations, caused strife, enervated scientists and philosophers alike, and seeded a strange anguish:
We will end on Earth
No matter in one millennia or a thousand, the species Homo Sapiens will die on this pale blue dot. That is certain.
But— the question arises, if the bottleneck is man, — what if we can make a new species of man, of the genus Homo, more suited for space?
One that can thrive not just for a lifetime, but for eons to come, as its parents once did on Earth?
One that could survive in the vacuum of space? Or any planet it desires? Or one that breeds children that adapt more readily to impossible environs?
Will this being have its primate instincts corrected? Expunged? Enhanced? Will it feel the way we feel? Think the way we think? Will it still be at its essence, a human being?
How will you continue the descent — and ascent — of man?
Note: I am not a physicist, mathematician, scientist, astrologer. or psychohistorian. So please correct the errors in my thinking.
Also, for fun, what name would you give those picking up our baton?