"Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." Science Fiction author Ben Bova realized that the general rules of science - don't add an experiment to an experiment, and don't make things overly complicated - also applied to science fiction. His theory certainly brought him success. Starting out as a technical writer for Project Vanguard in the 1950's, Ben Bova went on to become a successor to John W. Campbell as editor of editor of Analog Science Fact & Fiction where he won six Hugo Awards. Throughout his career he authored over 120 books on science fact and science fiction, worked as editorial director for OMNI magazine, and was president of both the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America. He has appeared as the Guest of Honor at the Florida convention Necronomicon on two separate occasions, and in 2000, he attended the 58th World Science Fiction Convention as the Author Guest of Honor.
Remember when The Curtain went up? The only viable solution, extreme as it was, to save humanity from Earth's rapidly hyper-toxifying, invisibly over-saturating air. A superstructure, ten miles up, of floating chemical filters, each a sort of box-shaped balloon, converting noxious chemicals into safer ones. Billions of them, linked together into an edgeless shell spanning the entire globe.
My new book, Discognition, looks at science fiction in order to think about questions of consciousness. Each of us knows that he or she is conscious; and most of us take it for granted that not only human beings are conscious, but animals like dogs and cats are as well. But how far downwards does consciousness go? Are lobsters conscious? Are trees? Are bacteria? We don't really know. But the enigmas go further. We don't even understand our own intelligence and mental activity. We live in a golden age of neuroscience; every year, we learn more and more about the functioning of the brain. And yet, despite this accumulation of knowledge, nobody really knows what consciousness is, or how it works. Philosophers and scientists disagree on even the most basic issues. We have no idea how to get from the brain to the mind: from electrochemical processes in our neurons to things like feelings and thoughts and experiences.
The teenage kids hanging out at my machine shop didn't know why I wanted a telephone. A plug-in phone, with wires hanging out of it, was a joke to them. They'd never seen a fax machine in their lives.
This will be the beginning of a new age. Or I will fail. Again.
Contemporary sci-fi often gets so overladen with pristine special effects that it almost seems too sterile. There is a sense of newfound political correctness in today's sci-fi, which sometimes even seems a bit preachy. It can make one yearn for 80s sci-fi cult classic movies. It was a time of transition for movie making and a decade of experimentation in the film industry. The top 90s sci-fi cult classic movies would encompass a decade of institutionalizing film production. 80s sci-fi films will remain an anomaly in the history of film for a number of reasons, but primarily because they remind us of a time when there were no boundaries to the imagination, and films did not cost hundreds of millions of dollars to deliver a limited storyline and cookie cutter actors and actresses. These cult classic movies will remain a must-see for the sci-fi fans of all ages.
Time: the final frontier. These are the voyages of storytellers throughout the mysteries of time, exploring how to break through its apparently-rigid barriers and break its (apparently equally rigid) rules. But when you think about it, we're all traveling through time together—in what we can perceive as forward. Not all of us pass through at the same subjective rate, of course, because there are teeny-tiny relativistic effects at work, which have to do with our relative motions.
One giant step for a man, one giant leap for humankind.
Philip K. Dick's work has transformed the way we view science fiction. He published 44 novels and over 100 short stories, and 12 book to film adaptations, extending his influence even to today. In most of his works, the wall between reality and illusion fails to exist, leaving his audience to figure out what is and is not real. He touched upon deep philosophical issues. What does it mean to be human? What is an identity? Can I trust my own memories? As a long time science fiction fan, I can't list the following PKD novels in any particular order. To impose my own order would be arrogant of me. Each of the best Philip K. Dick books can be enjoyed by any fan of science-fiction.
As a sub-genre of science fiction, sci-fi military books often imagine the future of war, relying heavily on speculative technology and, oftentimes, extraterrestrial combatants. Many authors rely on historical events, such as Hannibal or the Vietnam War, and transcribe them for the future. Instead of nations in conflict, authors present planets at war. The ethics of war and consequences of military action are on the front-lines of many sci-fi military books. When is war justified? What is the value of one life versus many? New moral dilemmas present themselves as science fiction concepts muddle the line between what is and is not permitted. Military science fiction is about the people engrossed by the carnage of war and the larger problems facing them.
Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, is something of a success story for self-published authors everywhere. Released by the author as an e-book in 2011, the book was picked up for broader distribution last year by Crown Publishing group, and is now well on its way to the big screen. The book itself is a labor of love for Weir, a well-researched and highly-realistic work of speculative fiction. It endeavors to answer a fairly straightforward question, how could a person survive on Mars if they were stranded there? This question requires knowledge of space travel, orbital physics, botany, and NASA bureaucracy to answer effectively, and Weir quickly establishes his expertise on all of the above. The resulting book is impressive for the amount of preparation it must have required before pen could be put to paper, and manages an engaging story to boot.