Space Opera Q6: The meaning of life
An entirely serious question.
This book posits a universe that has no intrinsic meaning. There is no god, no creator, no higher purpose, no energy field that binds all life together. Life arrives spontaneously and is ubiquitous. Those lives are limited by reach and time. There's no afterlife: this one shot is all we get. No one life, or even one species, has inherent worth. There's no objective difference between people and meat.
This is, essentially, the point of view put forward by Western secularism.
In such a world, such a universe, what should we do? How should we live?
Valente recounted a letter sent to her by a reader. The reader thanked Valente for the book. She read it to her young husband while he was dying in hospital of cancer. They both enjoyed it and it was their last shared experience. The book brought some some beauty to the profoundly stupid terminal illness.
We're all in the same situation, but hopefully not so immediate. We don't have any deep effect on the world. We'll be dead in a few handfuls of years. When we're gone, almost no-one will notice, let alone care for long. What's the point?
In the book, Valente essentially says that we should accept that life is stupid, and work to make life more beautiful. Beauty, art, love: are those what we should be striving for? Are they enough?