Thursday, August 26, 2004

Some science with your fiction

It's the Guardian's science fiction issue!

"The best reason to read about science is not to check facts, but to revel in wonder."

Philip Pullman writes about science and fiction, and the relationship between the two (but don't mistake it for a discussion of science fiction):

Doing science is not the same as doing fiction. But science as a background to fiction is different. It has to do what all backgrounds do — stand firm and solid. It must not sway alarmingly when someone walks into it or sound hollow when struck, it must conform to the rules of perspective and be vivid enough to convince but not so hectic as to distract.

Is there a responsibility for science fiction to be scientifically accurate? The consensus is "No." For SF to work dramatically, it often confronts "controversial science" — where the scientific rights and wrongs (let alone the ethical) are hardly delineated.

Another blah, blah, blah article validates the blah, blah genre.

But science fiction is more than just pulp fiction; at its core is the desire to understand humanity's place in the universe.

Science fiction not only reflects science but is also an inspiration for it.

Fiction has certainly pushed the envelope for scientists. "It helps you to think the impossible and see if it is possible."

Blah, blah, blah.

A bunch of scientists compile a list of their favourite authors.

Nothing particularly striking about the choices, but this jumped out at me:

"Asimov was not a stylish writer in the way that say, Philip K Dick was, but he was very rigorous scientifically, and thoughtful about how he projects scientific ideas into the future," says Philip Ball, a writer of popular science books.

Imagine that. Philip K Dick, a stylish writer. Michel Basilières must really hate Asimov.

There's also an excerpt from Iain Banks' latest space opera, The Algebraist, but on first scan it doesn't appear to be quite my cup of tea.

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