Sunday, September 24, 2006

Welcome to the Biology in Science Fiction Blog

They* say that you should blog about things you are interested in. Well, for me, that includes science fiction, fantasy and the biological sciences. I am starting this blog as way for me to muse about what I read. I may stray a bit from the main topic, but hopefully not too far (biology in other genres of fiction, science in the news, and whatnot). I'll probably write more about books than movies, since I read more than I watch, but I consider everything fair game.

But what about the robots?
One thing that annoys me is the assumption that "science fiction" necessarily includes robots, spaceships, time machines, zap guns or other cool gadgets. What they are thinking of is what I like to call "technology fiction" or "engineering fiction". The trick is that there doesn't necessarily have to be any new scientific discoveries for new technologies to develop. I would argue that technological marvels such as the wheel and the steam engine didn't directly spring from new scientific knowledge. That doesn't mean that new technologies don't make for good fiction. Space operas like Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica (and their print cousins) would be pretty dull if they didn't have some form of faster-than-light travel, and I enjoy watching "gadget of the week" show Eureka on SciFi.

In addition to the assumption that science fiction is based on engineering, rather than science, there is a common attitude that the biological sciences aren't really as "hard" as physics or astronomy or geology. Maybe it's because collecting specimens or working in a lab isn't as "macho" as sitting at a telescope, collecting rocks or blowing things up. Maybe it's because advanced calculus and differential equations aren't typically needed for biological breakthroughs. Perhaps it's because a biological discovery doesn't result in a time travel machine or a method of navigating hyperspace. For whatever reason, some hold biology to be just slightly above the "soft" social and behavior sciences**. Of course, that kind of attitude is just stupid.

Anyone really familiar with science fiction will realize that there are many classic and popular stories that are dependent on the biological sciences to drive the story. And that is what this blog is about.

I hope you find the blog interesting, and feel inspired to pick up a book or learn a bit more about biology.

* "They" being that mysterious cabal of wise persons who know everything about everything.

** For another view of the "soft" sciences, read this Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. editorial.

1 comment:

  1. great Idea, I've subscribe to the RSS feed


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