On the last two Funday Fridays I noted how science, the process of learning, could be fun by using thought experiments. I declared that there are professional science fiction writers who regularly use this exercise to entertain us. But exactly where in their science fiction is the ‘science’ part?
It’s in the stretch! For instance, take a story that has humans floating around in outer space. One of the things the writer has to account for is how the people will deal with vast distances – time and space itself. Everything they do will take a long long time to execute, whether it’s going from point A to point B, or even painting a room. How do these fundamental changes impact other ‘laws’ of behavior? How does it impact relationships?
Or, taking the same scenario, what does the fact that everyone is going to be living in super-close proximity to each other mean to their mental health? After all, they aren’t going to be building huge barns for every person.
Then again, if the story has them acting just as if they are still on Earth, then the fact that they are floating in space is irrelevant. And it’s a poor writer who doesn’t take advantage of that fact.
What about robots and our bodies? What happens when I take my brain and put it into a machine – a perfect, strong, large, machine? Did I mention my machine is always connected to the internet? And that it never sleeps, or needs to be plugged in? What happens? Will I become power-mad and try to take over the world? Will I lose my capacity to love another human, forgetting my wife? Or will I become a better lover, being able to wait patiently for eons to service her every whim, like a refrigerator?
And what happens when you bring dinosaurs to life, or introduce a space-based killer virus, or build a house that folds into multiple higher dimensions? So many possibilities, and all of them really explore our behavior. Not science as technology, not even science as knowledge, but science as a way to learn more about ourselves.
Science. Fun. Who knew?