Vector #30

Some science fiction authors and editors are fond of saying that many of the things we are now familiar with were prognosticated by SF authors years in advance. The atomic bomb is often quoted as an example. The submerine and artificial satellite are others. The communication satellite was prognosticated by Arthur C Clark as long ago as 1945, and the inventor of the flexible submarine tanker actually got his idea direct from Frank Herbert’s UNDER PRESSURE (THE DRAGON IN THE SEA). What seems to be forgotten is that, with very few exceptions, SF writers and readers have done little or nothing to make such prognostications come true. Furthermore, a cynic could argue that if one makes enough prognostications, a few of them are almost certain to come true, and there is cause for surprise, not in the fact that so many of them have come true but in the fact that so few of them have. Neveretheless, if we were to examine all the concepts of SF over the past few decades, we would surely find a few needles in the speculative haystack – a few concepts that are useful and can be shown to be useful, a few prognostications that can be helped to come true.

Jim England