For those of us who never went to university, and indeed for many of us who did, the BIS is our ivy-walled campus, the focal point of our intellectual lives. It’s a meeting place which allows you to share the company of astronauts and cosmonauts, famous writers, designers of ground-breaking rocket engines, and space enthusiasts of every persuasion.
My son has just been through Fresher’s Week at his university, a period of intense social activity designed to make new students feel at home and create opportunities for establishing new friends, many of whom may well become life-long acquaintances. While the BIS can’t match a university Fresher’s Week, there is a real delight to be had in attending the Society’s meetings and events, as can be seen in our article on the recent From Imagination
to Reality event co-organised by Mat Irvine and Jerry Stone:
One of the speakers at From Imagination to Reality was Alan Bond, designer of the engines that will power SKYLON. I have no doubt that my son’s generation will live to see the widespread commercial operation of this remarkable British spaceplane. I am equally certain that future generations will also see and participate in the inevitable evolution of the human species, a genetic transformation that must surely come about as an ever larger percentage of humanity ventures into space, to live and work in this demanding environment. Such is the theme of Richard Hayes’s column this month, which looks at the radical vectors which human development might take.
If the BIS can be compared to a university, then David A. Hardy is one of its most distinguished alumnae. For a glimpse of what our future in space might look like you only need to examine any of David’s famous paintings. I can think of no one better qualified to guide the Society on its continuing “Journey into Space,” as David does in this month’s issue.
The electronic pages of Odyssey would be empty were it not for the efforts of our regular contributors, such as our expert book reviewer John Silvester, one of the senior Dons at the BIS campus. In Odyssey 21, John turns his perceptive gaze on Rocket Science by Ian Sales, and will soon provide us with an early review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s new novel, 2312.
Few can rival Jerry Stone’s professorial like knowledge of space exploration. As we continue our tributes to Neil Armstrong, Jerry’s erudite views lend weight to the suggestion that Neil should rightly be regarded as the “First Citizen of the Moon.”
Like any university the BIS has a library, one which contains many books that simply can’t be found elsewhere, either in a book shop or online. So the next time you’re at the BIS don’t forget to visit the library on the second floor and sign the guest book.
Joining the BIS won’t cost you the fees that some students have now incurred. You can join for a far more modest sum. Everyone is welcome at our campus.
Mark Stewart, FBIS
BIS Honorary Archival Librarian