We are very pleased to bring you the first issue of 2012. We hope you like the new format and in particular the new cover design. Many people were involved in its creation, including all of the members of the JBIS international advisory board and several members of the society. However, I would like to single out the following as having contributed substantially to its development: Ben Jones, Euan Monaghan, Andreas Tziolas, Adrian Mann and Stephen Ashworth. I want to thank all those involved. The image we tried to go for was a fresh new look, gorgeous imagery but with some continuity with the past.
In this issue we also announce the formation of a new International Advisory board list. The names represent people from across many countries in the world, both North and South of the Equator. I believe these people will help to build JBIS into the modern journal that it needs to be in a global space aspiring civilisation. Some changes to the JBIS guidelines have also been made and these are included in this issue, published in full. All authors are encouraged to read these prior to submitting papers to the journal.
A final announcement from the management side. Dr Richard Obousy and Dr Andreas Tziolas are hard at work pursuing the non-profit Icarus Interstellar and so they have stepped down as Deputy Editors. I want to thank them personally for their efforts over the past year to assist the journal in getting papers out. They will continue in their roles as valued members of the JBIS advisory board. Meanwhile Dr Duncan Law-Green steps up to the post of Deputy Editor. Duncan has been doing an excellent job helping the journal to get online and the journal is lucky to have him on board.
Now we come to this very special issue of JBIS. It was back in early 2011 that the planning began for a BIS symposium dedicated to the philosophy of Olaf Stapledon. This is a man that had had a profound influence on many people, including Arthur C. Clarke, Freeman Dyson, to name a few. His seminal works Last & First Men and Starmaker, set in motion many ideas which would permeate the subject of space science in the decades after. Although these books are considered works of science fiction today, it is the ideas in them which make them relevant to JBIS. Indeed, many of the papers published in the journal over the years discuss ideas which can trace their origins to the works of Stapledon. This includes subjects such as planetary colonisation, interstellar flight, extraterrestrial life, the philosophy and cosmology of the Universe.
Stapledon presented his lecture Interplanetary Man to members of the British Interplanetary Society in 1948, at the invitation of Arthur C. Clarke and others. This essay is reproduced here in its entirety thanks to the efforts of Mark Stewart and Andreas Tziolas. In his 1962 book Profiles of the Future Clarke wrote “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them and into the impossible”. Stapledon certainly did that in abundance, and it is hoped he would have been proud of the contributions from the authors in this issue. In particular, it is worth highlighting the Invited Commentary from Professor Gregory Matloff. Although controversial, the opinion piece has been permitted in this issue within the spirit of Stapledons philosophy. Long may we follow in this tradition of scientific speculation and by that process uncover truths about the universe that even Stapledon would not have foreseen.
Kelvin F. Long, Editor JBIS