Wired has an article titled "Sci-Fi Scribes Like Mars Plan", which looks at how a handful of gung-ho SF writers feel about Bush's recent proclamation that the U.S. will now conquer Mars and the Moon (commentary on which I will leave to Dennis Kucinich, who said, "I have a theory why he wants to go to Mars: to find the weapons of mass destruction.")
I suppose if I were a reporter with some time on my hands, I, too, would be calling up SF writers, hoping for some pleasant words about spending billions and billions of dollars on space missions. Ben Bova, Greg Bear, John M. Ford, and Ken MacLeod don't disappoint, either. Examine national priorities? No no no -- we've got to get to Mars and the Moon! To me, they sound like Buck Rogers fans blinded by their own dreams, but that may just be a result of how the article was written.
On NPR the other day, I heard a report where a bunch of students were interviewed about Mr. Bush's plans for space, and their responses were interesting, most revolving around the idea of, "Well, we've screwed up the Earth a lot, so we need to get another planet in case we go extinct." Yes, boys and girls, that's a wonderful idea -- instead of cleaning up the air and water on Earth, instead of eliminating nuclear weapons, instead of funding education or health care, let's get us another planet so in case we all choke to death or drink poisoned water or blow ourselves into radioactive smithereens or die from some pandemic or another, we'll at least be able to start over, because, goshdarnit, we deserve it.
It might be interesting to survey a larger group of SF writers -- let's get opinions from Nalo Hopkinson, Jeffrey Ford, China Mieville, Ursula LeGuin, Tom Disch, Samuel Delany, Barry Malzberg -- many of whom have written about spaceships and worlds beyond Earth, but who might have a more nuanced view of things...