I see science fiction writers as those who dare to imagine, who aren’t restricted by what people think is possible or not. Throughout history there have always been those who thought beyond the perceived wisdom of the day as well as those who will tell you it’ll never happen. OK, if you go back a few hundred years it might have led you to being burnt as a Witch or branded a heretic, but people still dared to dream. A couple of years ago I went to the local arts centre which had an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketches of his ideas for new inventions, where he imagined things such as tanks and helicopter like flying machines, science fiction of its day. I’m sure most people who saw his ideas laughed and many uttered the word ‘impossible.’ But he dared to imagine and who’s to know much he might have influenced successive generations leading to some of those ideas coming true. Galileo was branded a heretic for proposing that the earth revolved around the sun and wasn’t the centre of the universe. People thought the speed of travelling by rail would crush your chest, heavier than air flying machines were impossible. Or more recently that somehow mobile phones would fry your brain.
I have, and have read (alright maybe not all of both of them) Michio Kaku’s physics of the impossible and Physics of the Future. In the former he lists a number of science fiction ideas that may be possible (parallel universes, some form of faster than light travel) and those that feels are impossible (time and travel tele-transportation). As a science fiction writer I am equally inspired by both. I guess, like Leorardo, I feel if we can imagine it, you never know. Perhaps it is simply that, as yet, we don’t know enough of the world / universe around us to conceive how we might make it happen.
I personally believe that it won’t be long before humans will be able to live for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years and it’s something I build into my stories. The sadness is that it will come too late for me (or will it? I can but hope). I know that will present the world with a whole raft of new issues and problems, but it will also present incredible opportunities (see my book ‘Project Noah’).
When I see (yes I do see them in my own head) worlds such as that created by the great Iain M Banks where intelligences vary from small football sized robots to multi-kilometre long eccentric space ships then I think, yes that could happen. I just wish I could be around to experience it.
In other blogs such as ‘Science fiction and space exploration – why we need them both’ I give my reasons why I think science fiction is important to the world and the future of the human race. It annoys me a little that many seem to see it as somehow a lesser form of fiction (another previous blog). As science fiction writers and readers we are similar to scientists. It is only by dreaming of what might be possible that you can start creating those new inventions that are going to change/save the world. Things that are going to enhance our lives and provided that adventure that humans need if we are to continue to develop as a species. Although it has been stated that NASA are not actually building a ‘WARP’ drive (I never thought they were) It gives me great faith that highly respected scientists are contemplating how a ‘faster than light’ drive might work. That ‘you can’t go faster than the speed of light’ is seen as just an obstacle to be challenged, got over, got round. Science fiction already has that technology, now all science has to do is catch up.
So science fiction writers and readers, dream on!
As always views are welcome.