Some Thoughts on Science-Fiction

Posted on by scott

The other day a friend of mine called and asked what I had been up to lately. As usual, I told him I had been writing. After all, it is what I like to do.
He sighed and said, “Yeah, I’ve been thinking of doing some writing too. I have some ideas for a science-fiction story but, I feel hesitant about it.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
He paused for a moment. “Well, I just don’t think it would be real enough,” he said finally.
This, of course, launched us into a conversation about sci-fi and should it be realistic or should it be really far out there, completely unbelievable.
For me, this is an interesting topic. My kneejerk reaction is… who cares? If it’s what you imagine and what you what to write about, just do it and have fun with it. Isn’t that the point of why we write this stuff? But here’s some thoughts after going just a bit deeper.
Let’s take Star Wars. I don’t know of anyone who would say that the technology exists to make an actual working lightsaber. Sure, lasers exist and that technology has come quite far but, the beams or in this case a blade of pure energy, are difficult to just “stop,” thereby making a saber. More than that, if you could, the damn thing would probably burn your hand off. Think of it. In Phantom Menace, they used the sabers to “burn” their way through a thick steel door. Exemplary skills with the force or not, I’m not convinced you can escape some simple laws of nature. Molten metal and a blade of pure energy would not be kind to your hand… or your arm… or anything else near for that matter. But could… someday… someone invent such a thing? Perhaps. Why not? And I have to say that as much as I love the Millenium Falcon (I still have a favorite toy ship as a living room decoration) I’m doubtful it would fly so gracefully through an atmosphere. But in another galaxy, far, far away? Maybe.
Let’s look at Star Trek. Star Trek is interesting because when it first came out in the ’60s, there were many gadgets in the show that most thought were way beyond anything we could ever imagine. A hand-held, portable device capable of long range communication, medicinal drugs injected into a human body without using needles, but rather with a “hypospray,” a universal translator which could decipher alien languages, a weird device called a tricorder that could scan the environment. The list goes on and on and I haven’t even begun with Next Generation or any of the other spinoffs.
Today, we have cell phones… aka the communicator. Research scientists have developed a way to inject medicine just like Bones did. There’s an app for cell phones that works similarly to the universal translator and guess what? Yes, something similar to the tricorder has been developed. It can scan for magnetic fields.
Does it really matter that our favorite sci-fi heroes are able to walk or run through their ships with the use of artificial gravity, something that I think a lot of people would agree is very difficult to attain. Or does it matter that we have no idea how to make a warp drive? I don’t think so.
I guess, to sum it all up here, reality in sci-fi is relative. What some wrote of years ago was, at the time, completely unbelievable. They dared to go where no one had gone before in their writing and come to find out that in the future, some of their ideas were taken and transformed into reality. Others, people are still working on making a reality. So, does sci-fi need to be realistic? I don’t think so. No one ever thought wormholes could be real until Einstein came along and said, “Sure, why not?” Our, so called, reality is changing all the time.
I think both science and writing begin with imagination. We’re just beginning to peek into our universe to figure out what’s going on. So, I’m gonna stick to my guns and say, “If you can imagine it and want to write it, have at it.”
You never know where it’s going to lead. Besides, isn’t part of the point of channeling your imagination and creating something an avenue for not having to stay within the confines of what we call real? Personally, I like something that takes me on a journey that is beyond what I’ve thought of and into a different world than what I’m used to.

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