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Science-Fiction: Tool for Education and Enlightenment

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posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 04:18 PM
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reply to post by apacheman
 

A tip of the hat, apacheman, from one true SF fan to another. Mind you, Byrd outranks both of us, since she obviously writes the stuff for a living... we've probably both read her. If James Tiptree were still alive, I'd have said... well, never mind. Don't want to start any conspiracy theories, not here on ATS.

Well, anyway.

First of all, let me say that I completely agree that SF is influential among people - scientists, most of all - who then influence society in their turn. The technology aspect, which you dealt with in some detail, is the most salient part of that. However, the very idea of projecting trends into the future in order to get some idea of what might be, which underpins the work of every think-tank nowadays, first gained currency in science fiction. And the best science-fiction of all has always been that which dealt with the social and personal consequences of science and technology.

However, I feel that you overstate the influence of SF in the post that I'm replying to. SF was concerned with hard metal technologies (for the most part) from Victorian times up until the 1950s - because, for most of that period, hard metal - engineers' wank, if you will - was where society's head was at. In the Sixties it became all sociological and psychological because those were the 'sciences' (not actually sciences at all) that captured the Zeitgeist, that were hot at the time. In the Seventies (remember, they called it the Me Generation) everybody was into self-actualization and tapping their inner spiritual potential, and SF became woolly and mystical and fantastical accordingly. In the Eighties it became all consumer-tech (Gibson et al.) and in the Nineties it died, more or less, because real life had overtaken it.

What I'm saying here is that SF, like all art, holds a mirror up to life; it reflects social trends and popular folklore. It does not drive or shape them, as you suggest.

Science-fiction is gone from us now, while we take a break from anticipating the future in order to assimilate the present. Maybe it will come back, maybe it won't.

Clifford D. Simak, eh? Now there's a fairly esoteric name to drop in these barbaric days.

A few particular quibbles:


I think NASA went downhill when the wimpy robotics guys won the argument over manned space flight versus robotics... they were wrong: it wasn't cheaper, and you didn't get more and better science out of it.

Whoa there, big boy. I don't know if you've been following, but we've got a whole lot more (and better) science out of unmanned missions than we have out of manned ones. I have two words for you: Mars. Rover. Here's two more: Hubble. Chandra. I can offer a few more words; I guess most of us can. Cheaper, too.


But the whole world would mobilize to save a human crew.

Fortunately, in the absence of a human crew, the whole world doesn't have to mobilize. That's an advantage right there.

Anyway, the difference between manned and unmanned missions will become pretty meaningless in time (soon) to come. Telemetry and the bioelectronic interface will improve to the point where the guy operating the rover pretty much becomes the rover (time-lags excepted). Audiences around the world will probably share the experience too, though of course they won't share the operator's control over the machine.


What passes for SF in the current time reflects this disappointment and lack of engagement on the vast space frontier... writers' imaginations are stunted and limited to shallow explorations of old cultural mythologies: pretty infertile ground for true SF.

Let's not forget that SF is only a branch of a big, big tree called literature.

You're right: the times aren't good for science fiction. But the reason has nothing to do with our increasing reluctance to pull multibillion-dollar John Wayne stunts on the High Frontier. It has to do with the fact that science, for the time being at least, has outrun fiction. This isn't because we live in a time of particular scientific ferment but in a time - just after a period of intense scientific ferment - when the focus is on making money out of scientific discoveries by making them familiar and useful to consumers. Science fiction? We buy it down the supermarket these days.




posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 04:55 PM
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Just imagine people such as the biblical prophets gazed into the future and had seen what we see on TV and may have had difficulty understanding just what was fiction or actual news reporting. Our type of technology also gives this type of medium and speculation the name of the false prophet. Some say the one eyed demon.

My understanding of what has been called the watchers also does this and may have come here prematurally or just in time by this preconception.

One other thing I've been led to believe is that the human race and it's alleged free will thinking is what we are allowed to do and that we are a think tank (fish bowl...
) I think these wathcers or vistors are challenged by our imagination and possibly even curiously amazed? idk

Many science fiction movies and programs also insult our intelligence by how they're written or edited.

My own issue was with beaming people up in Star Trek that were injured or dying the same way without doing it when they were molecules.

I could see a regeneration process with that ability. Make me 20 years younger etc. I much preferred Star Trek Voyager series to the others.

Stargate Atlantis seems to connect us or ground us? with a more suggestible past and presently classified scenario. Some say it's preparing us for disclosure. Compared to gods whatching over us, we are like the gods creating our own alternate realites or futures.


My present favorites are cartoon movies that reconnect me to my childhood in more advanced way. I try not to miss these at the theater also.


Planet 51 www.planet51.com...

[edit on 23-1-2009 by aleon1018]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 05:08 PM
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Byrd...is it true you are a science-fiction writer?



posted on Jan, 25 2009 @ 12:59 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
reply to post by apacheman
 


A few particular quibbles:


I think NASA went downhill when the wimpy robotics guys won the argument over manned space flight versus robotics... they were wrong: it wasn't cheaper, and you didn't get more and better science out of it.

Whoa there, big boy. I don't know if you've been following, but we've got a whole lot more (and better) science out of unmanned missions than we have out of manned ones. I have two words for you: Mars. Rover. Here's two more: Hubble. Chandra. I can offer a few more words; I guess most of us can. Cheaper, too.


But the whole world would mobilize to save a human crew.

Fortunately, in the absence of a human crew, the whole world doesn't have to mobilize. That's an advantage right there.

Anyway, the difference between manned and unmanned missions will become pretty meaningless in time (soon) to come. Telemetry and the bioelectronic interface will improve to the point where the guy operating the rover pretty much becomes the rover (time-lags excepted). Audiences around the world will probably share the experience too, though of course they won't share the operator's control over the machine.


What passes for SF in the current time reflects this disappointment and lack of engagement on the vast space frontier... writers' imaginations are stunted and limited to shallow explorations of old cultural mythologies: pretty infertile ground for true SF.

Let's not forget that SF is only a branch of a big, big tree called literature.

You're right: the times aren't good for science fiction. But the reason has nothing to do with our increasing reluctance to pull multibillion-dollar John Wayne stunts on the High Frontier. It has to do with the fact that science, for the time being at least, has outrun fiction. This isn't because we live in a time of particular scientific ferment but in a time - just after a period of intense scientific ferment - when the focus is on making money out of scientific discoveries by making them familiar and useful to consumers. Science fiction? We buy it down the supermarket these days.


And a tip back at you...you're quite right about the mirror aspect, but it makes me wonder who's leading and who's following, eh?

Hubble and Chandra aren't robots: they're satellite tools. And how can you say we've gotten more and better science from robots when there haven't really been any genuine manned missions for years, decades even. The ISS is a semi-useless sop: poorly funded in itself and all its support components starved of R&D money. It's one of those go big or stay home type things and NASA just uses it to justify killing manned exploration. AS far as cheaper goes, you need to factor in the costs of mutiple robotics failures: you can't just count the ones that work. How many Mars missions went poof at what cost?

Humanity needs achievable frontiers, it also needs to acknowledge that some things are worth risking lives over, and worth joining together to save, too. We need great adventure to capture our imaginations and spirits. How many great inventions are we missing out on because we're not solving the practical problems of colonizing the moon?

Telepresence is nice but you can't colonize that way, and ultimately we need to actually physically BE there, wherever there is: Moon, Mars or Sirius. Telepresence is sort of like watching porn: entertaining and educational, but a very poor substitute for being there yourself. That's the real reason SF is in decline: a lack of dramatic presence in space. Robots don't sit on the edge of a crater and watch the sunset with their spirit and capture the tiny details from which springs inspiration.

Yes, we buy a lot of SF gear in the mall these days, but that's only us, you and me: for the kids it isn't SF at all, it's just stuff.

In the end I agree that these are quibbles and we do get great science from robots. I just think we'd get better science and a better payoff if we actually left our house and went somewhere.



posted on Jan, 25 2009 @ 10:45 AM
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reply to post by Skyfloating
 


Found these interesting French prints from 1910 speculating what science future would be like in the year 2000 -they got a few wrong although the war car and school pictures are interesting.
www.paleofuture.com...
Goes to show sci fi and conjecturing about the future has a long history -I suspect noone can correctly predict our next hundred years (although I suspect Orwell would be safe bet).



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 09:08 PM
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just started reading a great new SF (genuine SF) book by Vernor Vinge called "A Deepness in the Sky".

A great read and very unique aliens, both human and non-human. And quite interesting science and engineering.

Just when I'd nearly given up hope of a good book.



posted on Oct, 31 2009 @ 05:27 AM
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reply to post by karl 12
 


Great website. Sci-Fi authors are much more succesful at prediction than prophets, it seems.



posted on Oct, 31 2009 @ 05:53 AM
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I don't think anybody's mentioned "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster. It describes a world where everyone live in their own little cell, and rather than travel the world or socialise with anyone, they communicate with many people from all around the world at once through a metal disk attached to a wall.

Personally, I attach a spiritual significance to sci fi. I know this may not be a popular belief, but I believe very much that humanity is currently at a very low spiritual level, and that other forms of life beyond our experience may have far more control of and access to spiritual realms. I believe in the Akashic Record, a spiritual realm that stores every single thing every person ever has done, thought or felt, throughout all of time. This is called many things in different religions and belief systems, but the Bible refers to it as God's Book of Life. Battlestar Galactica calls it The Stream! Actually, a great deal of the storyline of nuBSG makes use of the Akashic Record without being overly obvious about it. Considering Ron D Moore's cameo in the final episode, I've often wondered if maybe all of this has happened before, and whether knowlingly or unknowingly, the team of writers may even have possibly been influenced or informed by the Akashic Record, and just as in-story, the music and lyrics of "All Along The Watchtower" is independantly written by different people on different worlds, and even drawn by a toddler in crayon, and just as technology is less discovered and more reinvented, could the story of BSG be a far older one than we think?

Many believe that a good number of people alive today are souls from other worlds that have chosen to incarnate on Earth, for varying reasons. Could there be a subconcious "recognition" of the concepts and scenarios from science fiction that pulls on a string in our soul without us ever realising it?

I think science fiction is immensely important, it makes us consider things that we may never have before dreamed possible. It opens our eyes and our minds to possibilities and realities beyond our horizons.



posted on Jan, 5 2010 @ 06:29 AM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating
reply to post by karl 12
 


Great website. Sci-Fi authors are much more succesful at prediction than prophets, it seems.


Sky,I think you've hit the nail on the head there - good old Carl Sagan also makes quite a valid point below:



"Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science".
Carl Sagan

Link




As for good Sci Fi books listed on your thread - I'm going to shamelessy plug 'The Reality Dysfunction' by Peter F. Hamilton.

One of the best books I've read in a very long time.


Cheers.

[edit on 02/10/08 by karl 12]



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