What I would put into science-fiction that aims to be realistic

My personal perception of science-fiction of the past decades is that there seems to be an absence of the great visions of how technological advances will change life in the future. From the 50s to 70s, such stories seem to have been all the rage. When I look at popular “science-fiction” today, it’s mostly “post-apocalyptic distopia”, “superheroes”, and the occasional “space adventure”. None of which really deal with the finer aspects of science or technology. If there is amazing technology, it’s generally handled just like magic, with no actual scientific basis. I think part of it might quite possibly be that we had an unusual boom period of scientific discoveries in the late 19th and early 20th century, that is a highly exceptional moment in human history. Quite often we believe that the trends of the last two or three decades will continue forever, with progress accelerating always faster. But I don’t think that’s the case. What happened in the late 19th century was truly extraordinary with whole new fields of science and technology being opened to us, which eventually lead to nuclear power and digital computers a few decades later. But since the 60s, progress has been mostly refinement instead of huge breakthroughs, which I think is a much more normal state for scientific and technological progress. A hundred years ago we made a huge leap forward and have been riding that wave ever since. But of all the possible problems of engineering and nuclear physics, it was the easiest ones that people figured out first. There are still many great discoveries to be made and we’re probably never going to run out of them, but with each one the bar is set higher for future scientists and inventors. A hundred years ago, two people could make a huge discovery by working a few months in a drafty shed. Today it takes hundreds of people working for decades with a massive budget. And the usefulness of any new discovery will be ever more difficult to anticipate in advance. At least until someone has another huge breakthrough that opens up a completely new field of science that nobody had imagined to exist. But that certainly makes it a lot more challenging for science-fiction writers to understand the research that is currently going on and make educated guesses how those future discoveries might change everyday life.

Personally, I don’t expect that life in 2115 will be as drastically different from life in 2015, than how life now is different than from life in 1915. While my interest in fantasy is much greater than in science-fiction, it still entertains me to think what kind of world I would predict if I were to write science-fiction stories set in 2115.

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Movie Review: John Carter of Mars

I saw the movie yesterday and prior to it I really didn’t know anything about it other than it was based on a novel, which in turn is about a man from Earth ending up on Mars and having great adventures, and that it includes the green martians, which have obviously been adapted into AD&D as three-kreen. Actually, the whole thing looks like it was the inspiration for 80% of Dark Sun.

johncarter-redposter-fullOppinions about the movie seem to be quite mixed. I’ve heard and read that it’s both a quite good movie and a rather crappy one. But Dark Sun is awesome and so are Conan and Cthulhu, which originated in the same cultural environment and period. So I went to watch it anyway, but not expecting much. If all I would get would have been some pretty visuals that provide me with a few inspirations for my homebrew setting, it wouldn’t have been a complete waste of time.

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