If there are no robots, killer AIs, time travel or spaceships in a novel, is it even SciFi?
Margaret Atwood caused controversy a few years back by claiming scifi was just “talking squids in outer space” and only speculative fiction (presumably like “Handmaid’s Tale”) was true literature.
Isaac Asimov reckoned science fiction could be defined as any “literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.” Notice the father of robots and space and time-spanning empires didn’t mention them — the content of the story wasn’t part of his definition.
Heinlein had a subtly…
Bill Gates’ new book on climate change was published this month. It’s very good. People should read it. TL;DR — we need a lot of inventions to save us from having to dim the world for a decade with Krakatoa-style dust.
Even a volcano would only buy us time. It’s the worst case scenario: we’d still need the inventions AND we’d have bad tans.
Gates reckons we need to electrify everything that it’s possible to electrify. We also need to upgrade the grids everywhere to make that possible, including inventing better energy storage. Finally, we need new ways to do…
Unfortunately, Colonel Jessup was right. You can’t handle the truth. No individual has been able to for a long time.
If truth is the sum of human knowledge: facts, theories, and debate, it’s huge and growing. It’s already too large for any human to stay on top of— even Tom Cruise and he has a whole cult working for him. What could the rest of us possibly do?
Is it wrong to be economical with the truth? Or necessary?
According to Microfocus, in 2019 nearly 700 million tweets, 4 billion Facebook messages, and 4 million hours of YouTube content were…
Want to try a sample of Utopia Five, the first book in my scifi Panopticon Series, for size? Here’s the first chapter.
Utopia Five 2053
I materialised in front of Big Ben in grey, freezing drizzle. Even in a Utopia it rained occasionally, but this world seemed relentlessly wet. Did it have a sky? Or had Nemo not bothered?
I pelted inside the nearest pub, shivering, annoyed, and deciding I was an idiot…
In 1818, a young woman called Mary Shelley published the first work of science fiction: Frankenstein. I suspect every scientist and engineer (including me) needs to read it.
Tl;dr? Just read this, you’ll get the gist.
Frankenstein is a story about the danger of creating something without grokking the consequences. The main character, Dr Victor Frankenstein, works to discover the secret of restoring life to dead flesh and finally does so, only to abandon the man he’s brought to life because he’s no looker. What a dick. Who’d do that?
The book describes the chase across Europe of the doctor…
Jeff Bezos is desperate to go to the Moon. Elon Musk is heading for Mars. Who’s right? What will realistic engineering look like on the Moon and how will the unfamiliar physics affect life there?
It’s clear that solar panels will be a vital lunar power source but getting enough daylight might be an issue for future colonists. The result of millions of years of gravitational interaction between the Earth and the Moon is something called “tidal locking” or synchronous rotation. On Earth, tidal locking means everyone always sees the same face of the Moon. On the Moon, the effect…
Much of human progress has been driven by the evolution of trust. Will that continue? How will technology change trust, society and collective action?
In my two #scifi novels Utopia Five and the newly published Conundra I look at the potential effects of vastly enhanced, publicly-available surveillance on society and trust. Would it be dystopian or utopian?
There was a time in history when the only people you could trust were members of your own family. Groups that widened this circle along, say, ethnic or religious lines (let’s call it Trust 2.0) gained a huge economic advantage — they could…
If you were going to sign up with a totalitarian leader, who would you choose? It’s important to find a warlord who’s going to work for you in the long term because there may be a degree of lock-in.
Take our quiz and find out! It might change your life!
My new SciFi novel Utopia Five is set in 2053. It’s about a post-cataclysm society where some of the inhabitants reckons it’s utopian, others dystopian. Who’s right?
If you think that whether you live in a dystopia or not is obvious, the book’s main character Lee argues it isn’t. My last blog post “What is a Dystopia?” attempts to answer the question of what makes a dystopia in literature and film.
But let’s cut to the chase, which dystopia’s would I personally prefer to live in? Fortunately. …