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Science Fiction Writing - Reliable Prophecy or Lucky Guess?

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posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 05:27 AM
Science Fiction authors are often scorned and regarded as inferior to serious writers such as Dickens, Shakespeare etc. But how much of Science Fiction writing has actually turned out to be an uncanny prediction of the future? Let's look at a few examples.

We cannot begin any such article without paying homage to authors like HG Wells, who predicted major 20th century wars in his book The Shape of Things to Come; and Jules Verne with his iconic Around the World in 80 Days, From the Earth to the Moon and 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea (submarines under the Polar icecap).

According to this article:

But the "father of science fiction" is Hugo Gernsback. In 1911 he filled a few empty pages in the radio magazine he published with a short story, "Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660." Gernsback's prose was abominable, but then, his story was just an excuse to make predictions. Microfiche, skywriting, solar power, holograms, fax machines and even aluminum foil were all part of Ralph's daily life--but certainly not part of daily life in 1911. And then there was the "parabolic wave reflector," which today we know as radar.

Artic le

George Orwell predicted a society where our evey movement is watch by "Big Brother". It was a future that terrified many people at the time. These days, many of these same people beg for more CCTV's on their streets.

Arthur C Clarke came up with the idea of communication satellites around the end of the Second World War.

Robert Heinlein first thought of the waterbed and remote communication with robots and electronic instruments in Waldo.

Here are some more:

Virtual reality: computer-generated worlds almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Nanotechnology: microscopic robots that could bring about heaven on Earth...or hell.
Genetic engineering: someday we may be able to design humans to live underwater or in badly polluted environments. Should we?
Mars: it's time to go there.
Cyberspace: in the mid '80s Canadian William Gibson wrote Neuromancer, set in a gritty near-future where people battled for power inside the world's interlinked computer systems. Several similarly themed novels and short stories appeared around the same time, and the new sub-genre was labelled "cyberpunk" by SF critics. The term and the concepts it implies have now moved into the mainstream.

Quoting from this list, I would like to highlight a few amazing "prophecies":

  • Discovery of Martian moons Phobos & Deimos - Jonathan Swift (early 18th century)
  • Voice recognition for authoring - IsaacAsimov's Second Foundation
  • Scanner and OpticalCharacterRecognition - RobertHeinlein's TheMoonIsaHarshMistress
  • Viagra(tm) - PhilDick, Galactic Pot-Healer (1969), chp. 14. He called it "Hardovax". [D.E.C. fan, eh?]
  • Prisoners used as an organ bank - LarryNiven, "The Jigsaw Man" (196?). In 2006 China was accused of this [].

What other examples can you mention?

[edit on 15/7/2009 by deltaalphanovember]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 07:03 AM
Heinlein: Sliderules... with computer uplink

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 07:37 AM
Maybe foresightfulness coupled with a keen imagination and some succumbing to power of suggestion for good measure...self fulfillling prophesy?

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 07:48 AM
I've been reading William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy. He coined the term "cyberspace" and laid out interesting implications of global data networks and transnational corporations. Good stuff.

(Sorry. Saw you already cited Gibson.

[edit on 7/15/2009 by Toromos]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 08:01 AM
reply to post by Toromos

William Gibson isn't my favourite author .. never liked the cyberpunk 80's view of the future but he was remarkably prescient about our current information age.

I personally love Phillip K Dick's stories ... and if you watch the movie BladeRunner, the global megacorporation depicted is Atari! Personally I think Montsanto is the Evil Empire of our age. Perhaps some of the Biotech companies are contenders as well.

[edit on 15/7/2009 by deltaalphanovember]

[edit on 15/7/2009 by deltaalphanovember]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 08:03 AM
reply to post by plainmike

Yes, true ... one of the article mentioned something about "life imitating art". Perhaps of lot of scientists grew up reading sci-fi and then later on had the ability and means to try make the ideas reality.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 08:18 AM
I'm generally a lurker, but wanted to chime in on this.

I don't think it's necessarily that sci-fi authors tend to get it right as much as scientist find inspiration for new gadgets and technologies in the honest belief that they can avoid the side-effects or social changing themes associated with those gadgets/technologies.

So it's more of an art setting an inspirational stage, scientist develops art into somewhat of a reality believing that the bad won't/can't happen, society does what society does and takes it to an extreme where the bad happens (maybe not as bad as the story but a component of the story) and then the author/story look much more prophetic than they really are.

Just my $0.02, your mileage may vary...etc..

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 09:03 AM
reply to post by MythMaster

Hugo Gernsback, the Father of Science Fiction is an perfect example of this:

Hugo Gernsback was the modern world's first futurist, one who not only speculated about the future, but also worked to make it happen and guide others to it.


Being associated with scientists and geniuses can lead to great ideas of the future:

He regularly enjoyed dinner at New York's Delmonico's, as did Nicola Tesla,


By this time, Gernsback had become well-acquainted with a number of the world's leading scientists, mainly by correspondence. His position as publisher of Modern Electrics and Electrical Experimenter helped gain the attention of such scientists as Guglielmo Marconi, Robert Goddard, Nicloa Tesla, Reginald Fessenden, and even Thomas Edison. He knew Edison through other connections, as well shall see. A persistent story maintains that Gernsback once went to see Edison in his New Jersey laboratory and nearly wore out the elderly inventor with his intensity. The story has it that Edison was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ideas Gernsback handed out during the five-hour visit.

He did have what may be credited as a genuine prophecy:

He also predicted, more than once, that the first manned Lunar landing would take place between 1970 and 1975.


posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 09:07 AM
Oh you are so getting a S@F for this much timely thread my friend!

Yes, I too believe that there is a direct connection to the collective consciousness and dimensions which exist in higher dimensions where we pool our creativity and some such as the above mentioned authors have the grace and ability to pull those down to become works of sciencefiction genious and yes even glimpses into the future.

I noticed this at a very early age and have watched as fantasy became reality so many times in my life.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 09:19 AM
reply to post by antar

Thank you antar. I have also always been fascinated by so-called parallel inventions: things that have been invented at almost exactly the same time but in different parts of a country or the world.
I personally also attribute this to a "global consciousness" arising from "group-thinking" or consciousness.

Here is an interesting article relating a case of parallel invention:

What he found is a fascinating tale of parallel invention that, in some ways, rivals the simultaneous inventions of calculus in the 17th century by two different mathematicians. The parallel inventions of the transistor in 1948 by Bell Labs’ scientists in the U.S. and Westinghouse Labs’ scientists in the U.K. is a more recent example.

Article Link

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 10:04 AM
It is that cosmic pool which we all have the ability to tap into whether an inventor or poet, the other side to creativity is science, just as learning to play music can help a youngster in math.

Meditation, creativity and science is the wave of the future and of our direction into a Type One Civilization.

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