tion NovelsAdvancement of Technology and Science and Its Influence On Science Fiction Novels
The rapid pace of technology and the advancement of scientific
understanding in the past one hundred years are at the backbone for the
distinctly twentieth century genre -- science fiction. Such rapid advancement
in these fields of technology have opened up literally worlds of possibilities
for the future. One hundred years ago the possibility of simply flying from
city to city may have seemed nothing more than a distant futuristic dream to
most. While a mere sixty years later the impossible was achieved -- a human
being on the moon. Since technology has brought as much change as it has in the
past one hundred years the next hundred should be entirely incomprehendable to
Who knows what to expect? "The modern discoveries and applications of
Science throw deeply into the shade the old romances and fanciful legends of our
boyhood" (James 8) observes James. Technology has made what was once thought
impossible, plausible and weather or not technology is directly incorporated
into a science fi ction story as an obvious vehicle, the author knows that it is
always present in the mind of the reader. It is this plausablilty of what
conventionally should not be acceptable that has led to science fiction's
increasing popularity over the years.As James explains, "much sf is concerned
with the future and with the possibilities presented by scientific and
technological change" (James 3). Truly, humans exploring and even colonizing
other worlds, the plot of many a science fiction novel, has to many become
The successful series of Apollo moon landings in the 1960's and
the knowledge that we already possess the technology to send humans to other
worlds leads many to believe that it is only a matter of time. Even such a
notably respectable news source as Newsweek has detailed the future maned
missions to Mars (September, 23 1996). When I look forward to the future I can
hardly imagine the changes that will occur as a result of new discoveries in
science and new technologies. With so m any possibilities for the future,
science fiction is able to capitalizes on this by showing the audience entirely
new worlds and alternatives to our own.
Technology presented in science fiction stories most commonly serves a
very important role in the stories plausablilty to the audience.
does not mean that technology is necessarily the focus of such stories it is
often used as the vehicle for which such alternative and wonderous events occur.Without the advanced spaceship how could the Segnauts have gotten to the planet
Zorgon and defeated the evil empire? In 2064, or Thereabouts by David R. Bunch,
the robotic men and the mechanical world play a secondary role to the importance
of the human traits these half man half machines possess. Despite the fact that
these people have become converted into a part robot for increased strength and,
apparently, longer life the mind still searches for something that technology
apparently has not solved -- the meaning of life. The initial recognition by
the reader that technology in our time and place is continuously expanding
allows for plausibility such a strange and bizarre plot to occur. In Pohl's Day
Million the seemingly strange world set one thousand years in the future is so
completely different from earth today because of technological changes in
virtually everything -- even the act of love, which is at the center of the
story, has become completely alien to the audience.
(Pohl 166) Despite the
fact that the technology presented may seem strange and unusual to the audience
Pohl draws his ideas directly from modern day science and technology. Gene
manipulation and machine interaction with the body are all currently being
researched and used in the science labs and hospitals. In the case of Day
Million such technology shapes how these people live and interact with one
Science fiction in many cases attempts to better our understanding of
our own world and our surroundings by using technology not as a form of
advancement, as it is commonly seen in many stories, but as a form of
destruction and danger.
James states, "You might note that only on sf shelves
are there serious fictional discussions of the possibilities of survival after
nuclear warfare or the consequences of the greenhouse effect or of
overpopulating or of the possible dire consequences of genetic engineering"
(James 3). Truly, the mad scientist' character itself was spawned from science
fiction. Earth by David Brin deals with a miniature black hole developed by a
scientist who believed he knew how to contain it. Instead the experiment goes
out of control and results in a expanding black hole that consumes the Earth
from the inside out.
Technology in Michael Chrichton's Jurassic Park, the best
selling novel in 1990, enables scientists, lured by greed, to genetically
engineer dinosaurs that turn out to be too much for the human scientists to
handle, despite the technological precautions taken beforehand. The reader
surely can not help but compare the world of the story to that of their own."Not only is science fiction an idea of tremendous import, but it is to be an
important factor in making the world a better place to live in, through
educating the public to the possibilities of science and the influence of
science on life" (James 8). Science fiction in this sense does much more than
simply relay a story but it calls for the awareness of the reader to judge the
possibilities of the future of their own world. Certainly science fiction in
many cases serves not only as a beautiful vision of our future but also as a
clear warning of what might become.
"The content may be not scientific but
scientistic, when science and technology are presented as deity (or negatively
as demon). Science is all-powerful: it can create anything (destroy everything).Science will save us (destroy us). It can solve any problem (it is the problem).It is the essence of human (it creates monsters).
Science is a purely rational
process (the scientist is mad)" (Guin 23). Technology in these science fiction
stories poses clear questions to the audience as to the merits of such
advancement'. "Science fiction not only allows us to escape our assigned space
and time and step into other dimensions. It lets us examine our mundane,
earthbound problems from a fresh original viewpoint" (James 1).
The advancement of science and technology in the twentieth century and
the unknown of what lays ahead in our future have allowed science fiction to not
only plausibly escape the world as we know it but criticize it as well. "If you
thought about it, you might see that sf...because they deal with imaginative
alternatives to the real world, also frequently offer criticism to that world"
(James 3). Science fiction can not help but draw upon the promise of future
technology and analyze how it will effect our lives.
While this role may be
secondary in many science fiction stories, its importance most certainly is not
meant by the author to be ignored.