I've been reading some old SF novels over the past few weeks, and here are some of my random thoughts (spoilers, although I'm not sure the warning is necessary for novels over 20 years old):
• Stranger in a Strange Land would have been much much shorter if in Heinlein's future America effective birth control had been invented before a manned expedition was sent to Mars. Also, if Michael Valentine Smith had been raised by wizards instead of Martians you could place it squarely into the Fantasy genre without having to otherwise change the plot (sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic etc. etc. ).
• I think it's a bummer that Asimov decided to tie together his series of Foundation novels and Robot stories by making the humanity's expansion onto many worlds, the creation of the Galactic Empire and its replacement by the Foundation ultimately due to the meddling of a couple of mind-reading, mind-influencing robots. I'd like to think that we'll conquer the universe without the nudging of telepathic robot nannies. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for more magic-with-a-thin-veneer-of-science after reading SiaSL.
(Also, I wonder about the Foundation movie in development - how will they successfully adapt the original trilogy which covers a lot of time and has a lot more talking than action? Also, why not film the robot novels, which have movie-friendly Earthman/robot sidekick solve-a-mystery plots?)
• I've also just read Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. I'm putting together a post on it, since advanced biotechnology plays an important role, but I wanted to mention that there is going to be a discussion about it starting tomorrow on sajbrfem's journal as part of a "Women in Science Fiction" reading club.
• Every so often an article like this comes up on my newsreader:
". . . it’s what technology ethicist Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University says during the piece that, for me, delivers an equally big (if not bigger) impact:And I wonder to myself what sort of mundane SF Wolpe read in high school. Do we have regular space travel or colonies off of the Earth? Nope. Have we found life on other planets (never mind sentient life)? Nope. What about human genetic engineering or cloning? We're approaching that ability, but it's still highly experimental. Can we upload our minds into a computer? Not yet. Time travel? Uh uh. Telepathic robots? Not even. Most of that fun stuff isn't going to happen in the near future if at all. We are living in the future, sure, but it's not the one of most science fiction novels.
“It’s what I always tell my students that there is no science fiction anymore. All the science fiction I read in high school, we’re doing.“
• Also I've updated my posts about the Darwinism panel at Readercon and the science in SF-related panels at Comic-Con with attendee reports.
Anyway, that should hold you 'til I'm back.
Tags:science fiction, biology