I find space travel fascinating, real and fictional. My only true regret is being born too early to (presumably) enjoy a futuristic world of personal space transit systems, blasting off to your weekend home on Mars as easily as we jump on the subway today. Assuming a technologically progressive future of democratic harmony of course. If it turns out we’ll all be living in a zombie-infested, irradiated wasteland, battling packs of rabid dogs for our daily portion of fried cockroach and living in patched together enclaves, shotguns by our side and ever-fearful of the local overlords and their fascist gangs of enforcers – well, then slightly packed traffic lanes, an over-dependence on reality TV shows and a distinctly non-space based railway system is just fine by me.

Consequently, people like Richard Garriott make me sick… with jealousy! Ha, zing! Yes, I’m extremely envious of the self-styled General (nee Lord) British and his current excursion into the outer regions of our inner orbit (or is that the other way round?). As we speak, and as you no doubt are already aware, the creator of the Ultima series of games and, more recently, Tabula Rasa is even now larking about on the International Space Station, having used my money to hitch a lift with the Russians (in that I bought a couple of his games and so indirectly financed this whole expedition, go me!).

In my former life as a one-time leading British games journalist, I’d actually met Garriott a couple of times, mostly in his pre-online, braided ponytail, fake broadsword carrying days and found him to be a thoroughly pleasant, if a touch intense kind of a chap. The most memorable occasion was being invited to his then mansion in Austin, Texas for a Halloween party in which his entire house was transformed into a spooky theme park ride/adventure hybrid, complete with local theatre groups portraying various occult and demonic figures, a boat ride through hell, giant fireballs being cast by witches, holograms and a frightening number of hydraulic systems powering all sorts of moving walls and rooms.

I remember thinking back then that he had more money than sense thanks to the games industry, and now he’s blasting off into space on his own personal Privateer dream-made-flesh. And I say more power to him. His non-games company, Space Adventures, seems to be leading the path into public sector exploration of space, and for me personally, the quicker private enterprise starts making space exploration a reality to be shared by more than NASA and other governmental equivalents, the quicker we reach everyone having a personal moon podule in their backyards.

Anyway, for those that are curious, here are links to various bits of Garriott-space footage:

Arriving on the ISS (1:07)
Docking with the ISS (1:45)
Garriott’s rocketship blasting off (2:00)
Garriott on British morning television (4:26) – I love this one as it shows how utterly banal and inane our British morning TV is. It’s almost identical to The Onion‘s glorious series of Today Now! video spoofs.