From: Keith Henson (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 06 Jul 2004 - 02:38:24 GMT
At 06:01 PM 05/07/04 -0500, Gene Doty wrote:
>These postings suggest the following to me:
>It's common for people to say that "science fiction writers predict the
>future." (For some people, this seems the only justification for sf.)
>Arthur C. Clarke's imagining geosynchronous communication satilletes is a
>commonly cited example, although there are others.
That's probably not the best example since I don't think Clarke wrote about
them in the context of a SF story.
Robert Heinlein "invented" several things such as water beds by mentioning
them in a science fiction story (_Beyond this Horizon_ for water beds).
>My point: rather than "predicting the future," a writer like Clarke is
>creating a meme and sending it out. If it finds appropriate vectors for
>replication it becomes a reality in the non-fictional world.
That's certainly true, there is a meme for geosynchronous communication
satellites same as there is for hand axes. The major difference is that
the meme for geosynchronous communication satellites existed for a number
of decades as pure information before anything was done to implement it.
>I think the difference is that the common attitude attributes a kind of
>prophetic ability to the sf writer, whereas a memetic view sees the writer
>as a vector for memes that may or may not develop beyond the bounds of the
To a very high degree this depends on the meme being something that can be
done in the real world. Memes flow both ways too. I have mentioned before
that the idea of the skyhook was out there for 13 years before Charles
Sheffield and Arthur Clarke simultaneously wrote stories about it.
>I was infected with the space travel and immigration off-earth memes at
>about 12 years old. They're still strong in me, although I've not acted on
>them as Keith has. Anybody have any ideas about how the information coming
>back from Saturn (the Cassini-Huygens probe) will affect the whole
As a guess, and based on previous probes, not much, mostly because there is
no possibility of going there.
However, nanotechnology is a different matter. Given replicating
industrial "stuff" that doubles in a few hours, and will keep you healthy
for millions of years, we can explore or settle the entire galaxy. (Look
up "Far Edge Committee.")
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