Science in Fiction …and vice-versa

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Being a real fan of Science Fiction requires a flexible imagination, and have an open mind that is capable of accepting for consideration any concept at all.  Its OK to have compartments, or niches, or organizational charts in which these concepts reside—such as:  Possible, Improbable, Unlikely, Impossible But Intriguing, Far-Fetched, Ridiculous, and Boring.

In the first place, anything can apply to classification of Science Fiction.  The “Science” part places restrictions on the subject matter in that purists will want divisions into Real Science…topics that are accepted by almost everybody.  For instance, here is a true scientific fact:  “when we look up into the sky we see  specks of what looks like sparkly things reflecting (or generating) light.”

On the other hand Science Fiction fans might propose that there are, up in the sky, great big diamonds twinkling and shining back at us.  These are very valuable heavenly bodies…which in fact actually may BE what they appear to be…great figurative strings of white holiday lights decorating the vast wilderness of Space for our enlightenment/entertainment/delight/wonder.    The operative word here is “Fiction,” meaning “probably untrue.”

But there we are faced with the dilemma of What is True?   What is Fiction?  In the case of True Facts/Real Science, and other specific terms, the questions appear to be “What are those sparkly things in the Sky?”   The True Science people mumble  all sorts of conjecture about light waves, substance compositions, Albert Einstein, and the magnitude of stars in strength, composition, distance, reflective properties… and prevalent theory.

The Science Fiction adherent— writer, reader, believer—on the other hand, is not handicapped by any “body of theoretical evidence,” itself an oxymoron.  In a given work of fiction, novel or story, the writer comes up with a premise—not a theory, its made up of whole cloth, rather than a restrictive set of rules.

Before I back myself into a corner here, being as how I am NOT a Scientist, let me just say that if a new novel comes out entitled Real Diamonds in the Sky, and the plot of the novel revolves around the discovery that Stars really ARE diamonds…leading to a huge competition among the human race to begin harvesting them.    Which of course immediately renders the diamond/stars worthless.

To paraphrase the standard remark  kids used to say when they gave a book report in class… “if we want to read this novel…or one like it…someone is going to have to write it!”       Unless, of course, Steven Hawking publishes a NON-Fiction best seller with the same title.

 

Science Fiction Favorites

One of my blogger pals was chatting about Science Fiction writers and novels, and mentioned several that I’m not familiar with.   This is not unusual, as I rarely read the science fiction genre any more, in fact I think I would say my favorite are what I call “Lawyer Novels” written by and about lawyers and courts and fancy courtroom dance steps.  My favorite of this genre is Lisa Scottoline, who is a Philadelphia lawyer (really) in real life, and writes about female lawyers and other legal personnel.  I also like James Grisham, of course, and Peri O’Shaughnessy (who is really TWO authors…sisters…in one.)

Back in my late teens or early twenties I became intrigued and enchanted by Science Fiction in general, and set out to read every (or most) novels by such as Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, and others whose names I can’t recall offhand because my Sci-Fi sections of my brain storage are nearing capacity.  I also tried to read Isaac Asimov, but he was a bit technical for me, and my interests lie more in robots-doing-stuff than in building robots from scratch.

Among the ageless store of knowledge about robots are the famous Laws of Robotics.   I’ll probably have to look it up, but basically those laws is that 1. Robots must obey any command by a human. 2. they can not harm or kill a human being under any circumstances and 3. must deal with the conflict of the first two Robot Laws.

There were some rules about space travel, especially after Einstein worked out his theory…and I believe that one of those is that while space travel is technically possible it had no contemporary basis in known facts.   This was back in the 1950s, following the discovery of the Atomic Bomb…and the Hydrogen Bomb… and proof that these things really did have the capability of wiping out entire cities.   They even did a second “test” after the first to reassure themselves that wide-spread death and destruction was indeed NOT just a pipedream, but an actual fact in the development of the human race.

The things I love most about Science Fiction is the use of imagination…extrapolating on wonderful ideas and things to foresee the future when dreams could come true…. Say robot-vacuum-cleaners in every home.  Wow!   Just last week, here in 2016 on saw on the television a little disc like thing that zips around by itself cleaning under sofas, terrifying cats…. (nah—most cats would love a thing like that!)  and just think of the possibilities!   “Robot! Fetch me a beer!”   “Feed the cat!”   “Stop sneaking up on me like that!”     I don’t think I would like one of those things zipping around under foot.

I aso like the inventive and fascinating scenarios of flora and fauna of other planets.   One I recall is a planet with landscape that was RED instead of green…red trees, grass…I think of that every time I see my Red Maple Tree doing its thing in the Fall, or the gorgeous Redbud Trees.

Anyway…I read every science fiction novel I could get my hands on back then, mostly borrowed from the library.  In fact… I even wrote some science fiction of my own–not actual published stories, but well-developed plot lines.   Maybe I’ll write about that in the next installment about Sci-Fi-and-Me.