« Science fiction and predictions

Science fiction and predictions, II

Tags: Quotes Science fiction

"Science Fiction: Its Nature, Faults and Virtues", Robert A. Heinlein

Are the speculations of science fiction prophecy? No.

On the other hand, science fiction is often prophetic. There was once a race track tout who touted every horse in each race, each horse to a different sucker. Inevitably he had a winner in every race—he had extrapolated every possibility. Science fiction writers have "prophesied" (if you will excuse a deliberate misuse of the word) so many things and so many possible futures that some of them must have come true, with sometimes rather startling accuracy. Having bet on all the horses we can't lose. But much has been made of the "successful prophecies" of science fiction—the electric light, the telephone, the airplane, the submarine, the periscope, tanks, flamethrowers, A-bombs, television, the automobile, guided missiles, robot aircraft, totalitarian government, radar—the list is endless.

The fact is that most so-called "successful prophecies" are made by writers who follow the current scientific reports and indulge in rather obvious extrapolation of already known fact.

"Sci-fi special: Stephen Baxter", Stephen Baxter

It’s true that many of the old dreams of science fiction have been fulfilled, or bypassed. And it does feel as if we’re living through a time of accelerating change. But science fiction has – rarely – been about the prediction of a definite future, more about the anxieties and dreams of the present in which it is written.


Italics added by me. This is part of a series, part 1 is from 2015. If you are aware of any other interesting quotes on this topic, say from Verne, Wells... Please let me know.

Created: 30 April, 2016 - Last changed: 30 April, 2016 - Comments (0)