I'm in favor of exploring all of those options. They'd all help us get to Mars, they'd all have space-inspired benefits elsewhere in life, and if we're exploring multiple things then we'll probably find one that works sooner.
What makes this challenging is that it's very difficult to convey travel itself as interesting. The tendency is to cut to the chase, showing only the most exciting action scenes. But you really do lose a lot that way. So you have to find ways of revealing why and how the journey is as important as the destination, the ways in which the setting drives the plot.
Take a look at my poetic series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space. Because the setting falls between two galactic arms, you know they have relatively fast space travel. However, it's not like teleporting; it's more akin to international relations during the Age of Sail. It takes time to cross from the Carina-Sagittarius Arm to the Orion-Cygnus Arm; that's why the Lacuna is important and turns into a no-man's-land. It's out of easy reach, outside the core population centers. After the secession, the setting continues to play a major role. The secessionists don't have a planet to live on; they're scattered across little bases and ships. They don't have the kind of resources that most people take for granted, like having a place to grow food or dip water out of a lake. They only have what they can bring in or recycle. They can travel to each other but that, too, takes some time. Space is not just a backdrop; it influences the political dynamics and other challenges the characters have to solve in order to survive.
For a fantasy comparison, look at Path of the Paladins. Most of the action takes place in villages or towns, but there are several battlefields in the middle of nowhere, and a handful of encounters along roads or trails. Threaded throughout are indications of how empty and damaged the world has become due to all the fighting. This series has a slow, one step at a time approach because it focuses on the practical effects of all the heroic action that fantasy often ignores.
I really have no understanding of the people who outgrow the "Why?" phase.
This poem is from the March 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from meeksp, the_vulture, and chordatesrock. It also fills the "2) Lacuna" slot in the Vellum list for the Rainbowfic fest. This poem has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space.
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This poem came from the February 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by Stephen Laird. It's based on a video about stellar motion within the galaxy and the italicized lines are quotes from the video text. This poem belongs to the series An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space.
To understand the universe,
one needs parallax.
To understand the war,
one needs perspective.
Time, space, and distance
are not to scale.
Estelle created a holographic program
that showed the whole galactic plane,
the Sun swimming through space
on a spiral path like a strange jellyfish
making its way through a sea of ink and sparks.
The arms of the Milky Way
reach out through the stellar wind.
The planets dance around the Sun,
forever led by its luminous beacon.
It takes about 226 million years
to orbit the galactic center.
The notable battles of the war
appear like pinheads of red,
visible only at high magnification,
spattered along a short span
of the Sun's infinite looping path
and beyond, into the Lacuna
that lies between the Arms.
So small an impact,
one would think,
looking at it in the context
of all that lies around it.
Please read my notes in the video description
before posting a comment.
Look at this, you conceited imbeciles --
the universe made this masterpiece,
and all you can think to do
is FIGHT OVER one little piece of it?
And to think you call US "mentally disabled."
This? Is why I'm against the war.
I am amused to see more people figuring this out. I always believed it was probable. I also observe that life tends to find a way to colonize even seemingly unlikely places.