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203 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2006 :  08:50:35  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Do you think that science is a necessary element in a SF story?

Can the amount of science oriented SF in the literary mix be a reflection of people's interest in science in the greater culture?

Are science and magic compatible?


203 Posts

Posted - 09/30/2006 :  10:27:07  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
There are some very interesting themes in "hard" SF that sell a lot of popular science today. My own opinion is that many of these subjects can be handled in a much more informative and interesting way in fiction. Not that the science "is" fiction, but that speculative science can be more powerfully conveyed in a fictional story. I read an interesting book on speculative science by Joao Maqueijo, a well know physicist and professor of physics at Imperial College London entitled "Faster than the Speed of Light." In the book Joao says, "When I'm too old to do real science (older than 40?), I want to write fiction not popular science."

Some themes that I'm most interested in are:

Genetic Engineering
Faster than Light Travel
Machine Intelligence
Multi-dimensional Universe
Time Travel
Extraterrestrial Life
The nature of Consciousness

In my book Proteus Rising I address several of these: genetic engineering, machine intelligence, and the nature of consciousness. In my anthology Worlds in Transition, I address the idea of a multi-dimensional universe and machine intelligence. In what follows I'd like to investigate the science and the speculative human impact of these possibilities. I hope that others will join in the discussion.
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203 Posts

Posted - 12/19/2006 :  09:04:13  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
There is often debate in various SF forums about magic and science. Some claim that these two are compatible. Some often refer to the famous quote by A Clarke:

"The science of a sufficiently advanced civilization is indistinguishable from magic."

This may be true, but only superficially. I think the problem here is that some misunderstand what science is. Science is not saying you know something, science is the process of acquiring knowledge. At the heart of the process of science are doubt, critical thinking, experiment, and reproducibility by ones peers. Faith and Science are dialectic opposites. Science is based on proof. Faith is acceptance of something "without" proof. The only real assumption that science makes is that there exists an objective reality separate from the subjective reality of humans. A graphic example of what objective reality is, is that reality that existed before there were humans on Earth, which is 99% of the time the Earth has been around; and by extension, the reality that will exist when humans no longer exist.

Arrogance is thinking that we can believe in something without proof and that this power of belief somehow makes it real. This has been a source of much failure and suffering for humanity, and may indicate a basic flaw in the way that we think, i.e. in order to relate to the world, we feel it necessary to anthropomorphize it.

Any opinions?
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203 Posts

Posted - 01/02/2007 :  09:23:44  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Just wanted to share this with the people reading the forum. This was a recent post I put on a forum disscussing Immortality:

Immortality--there are some topics that are hard to discuss, not because they're not good topics, but because whatever can be said about them does not do them justice. It's a matter of perspective. We, as human beings, on this small blue marble have very little perspective. I have never met anyone who has ever thought of anything that they have not experienced in some form or other. I have never read anything that Iíve ever considered truly outside human experience. We haven't been around in any effective way for very long, we're not that smart, we're ripe with subjective emotions that continually distort our judgment, and we've seen almost nothing at all of the universe around us that we so arrogantly dismiss in favor of childish stories that we constantly make up and try to pass off as deep insight, or worst yet, truth. And before you start hating me for saying these things, I count myself as one of the clueless.

Immortality?--I have no idea.

Have any ideas?
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203 Posts

Posted - 01/03/2007 :  09:27:19  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
About Alien Contact:

I agree, one must define "meet." I'm thinking of contact with an "intelligent" species. Intelligent-->sufficiently technically capable of making contact, probably by radio or laser. I don't think this will happen. Check the Drake Equation. The problem is that tech savvy species probably don't last very long--for obvious (Darwinian) reasons. The probability of sender and receiver lining up in time is vanishing small even if there are thousands or millions of such candidates--and I think there are.

Physical contact is probably impossible. If it is not, then they will have to come here--we're not capable and probably never will be. If they are smart enough to come here, they would be to us as we are to ants--no contest. Better hope they're friendly--and if they are, they probably don't want to talk to us, we're not that interesting.

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203 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2007 :  18:36:48  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
In response to a post about the "next step" in human evolution and the idea of purpose, i.e. a word about the idea of God:

The Presumption of Purpose. Directionality and intentionality are a matter of perception. These are subjective qualities that may have no meaning in objective reality. Before there were people to "perceive" the movement of events on Earth, there was the evolution of inanimate matter into an organization that we now call life--there are reasons for this. For a brief time there will be the "presumption" of purpose by some life forms on Earth, of which people are the highest order. And when we are gone, physical reality will continue to move (as long as there is available energy or less than maximal entropy) onto the "next step" or epoch or whatever one chooses to call it.

The point I'm trying to make here is that one can impose whatever narrative onto the motion of nature one chooses. The most likely correct narrative (the one that's the least wrong) is the one that incorporates the fewest assumptions.

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12 Posts

Posted - 04/22/2007 :  17:47:10  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit tamarawilhite's Homepage  Reply with Quote
To quote Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
One could easily write a story where high tech alternate reality/time travellers pose as gods among a less advanced tech. Magic in a sci-fi story.

Tamara Wilhite/Humanity's Edge
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The Jarillion

United Kingdom
18 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2007 :  11:26:54  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit The Jarillion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
By definition magic cannot function in science. Science's only supposition is that every thing has an explanation. Magic is something which defies all explanation, making the two mutually exclusive.

Science Fiction based on Parapsychology can easily look like fantasy, in fact I tend to see it as a grey area, albeit more one of popular perception than identity. I'm rarely inclined to read or watch it anyway. Clarke is referring to claims of magic, or assumptions of magic, rather than the presence of magic.

I tend to define Science Fiction as fiction which extrapolates from science, fantasy being fiction which throws the rule book away and does as it pleases.

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