When I first arrived I was struck by how familiar or semi-familiar the enclave seemed. Some effort had been expended to make the neighborhood more home-like, even if the style of the buildings and the materials used in paving the streets and sidewalks were utterly native to this country. Unofficial signage was posted in English alongside the local undifferentiable squiggles. The principal street was lined with hamburger shops and frozen yogurt stores, some of which assumed vintage American brand names and a limited version of their former signage and trade dress.
A half-century after the conclusion of the Apollo mission, we have entered a new age of space fantasy—one with Mars as its ruling hallucination. Once again stirring goals have been set, determined timetables have been laid down, and artist’s renderings of futuristic spacecraft have been issued.
Sixteen million people in Cairo; I’m told the daytime population is actually more like twenty-two million, struggling to keep their footing on the congested, uneven pavement. A vision of our unsustainable future: too many people, not enough jobs; too many cars, not enough living space; too much refuse, not enough clean water.