I’m a massive fan of Science Fiction. I’m also a scientist and us scientists do tend to enjoy and have a fascination with all things science fiction. I’m a Geneticist to be precise, with a side line attraction for the night sky and what or who else is out there. Im also intrigued by the possibilities of the science in science fiction.
Mysterious worlds, alternate history’s, dystopian futures
I read Science fiction books to be taken to some other place, be it an alternate version of our own present, or future (this is usually in the form of dystopian futures), or to some distant fantastical world. I’ve just finished reading the Shadow Police series by Paul Cornell, written in the fantasy genre the close relative of science fiction, another I’m also partial to. This sets out to achieve the same purpose but it has one main differentiating factor, everything is based around pure fantasy. What distinguishes Science Fiction and its readers and viewers is that we usually look for what could be possible in these stories, what could be just around the corner in the not too distant future of science. Although these stories are still works of fiction, without that fictional story we wouldn’t have a compelling narrative to draw us in, they must be believable, the technology must seem possible, like it could happen in our future. The situations and solutions the protagonists of the story find themselves in must have some grasp of the real world contained within them, or at least that’s the case for me. It also tends to be those stories that I enjoy the most. In the past this has been subdivided into “Hard Science Fiction” where everything is described down to the finest detail of how it works, but more recently authors and film writers have taken a middle ground, they use technology and science that seems believable, closer to current reality without describing every nuance of the process and this has made for much more interesting and captivating stories.
Our Future, Maybe
So What science fiction does for the majority is make us ask questions about our place in the universe, what will happen to us now and in 10, 100, 1000 years. Where and how science and technology will take us there and how it can help. Its shows the possible bleak, but also sometimes hopeful futures. There are many books that discuss climate change and natural disasters that befall the world and us the human race and provide possible ways we can cope or prevent these from happening. Although they may not always be our ultimate future they often provide the basis of the science and technology to come. In some cases Science Fiction can even be educational, providing knowledge on current scientific thinking, but without seeming like your attending a high school science class again.
Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact
What does surprise me though is how often, even the Science Fiction that sounds the most fantastical often has lots of real scientific possibility hidden in there, technology and science that is possible, even if its in a galaxy far, far away.
So based on this I thought it would be interesting to look at what’s popular in Science Fiction at the moment, the books we are reading, the films and TV series we watch, and how likely it is become a reality, maybe even in some cases it already is a reality, or if its just to far outside the reach of science in this moment. There might even be some diversion to older classic Sci-Fi to see how it has already helped shape our future. Disclaimer: I sometimes get an urge to go and find some classic science fiction to read, to see what was thought of in the past.