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Advancement of technology and science and its influence on science fiction novels

Advancement 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

us. 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

inevitable. 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. While this

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

another.

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.



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