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Alastair Reynolds Compares Science Fiction and Fact

The BBC talks to Alastair Reynolds (The Prefect) about whether current technology has out-paced science fiction:

The common complaint now is that science fiction is already outmoded because we are living in a science fiction universe,” says Mr Reynolds. “I’ve got some sympathy with that. Only the other day I was in Amsterdam airport and I noticed security guards nipping around on Segways with machine guns.

“If you had been transported from 1997 into this year, you would be incredulous and think of it as science fiction.

“But we accept it as part of the fabric of our world.”

Mr Reynolds believes that the pace of change makes science fiction essential reading, now more than ever.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

1 Comment on Alastair Reynolds Compares Science Fiction and Fact

  1. (NB I am French, excuse the style)

    Have you ever read The World of the Null-A by Van Vogt? It is a world where once in your life you can pass through the “Game Machine” –a well structure “WWW,” which possesses the knowledge of all time and the knowledge of the whole world in real time— in order for you to “know” what you should do with your life. —If you don’t go, you don’t do anything of authority, everything is automated and control by the “Game Machine.”

    Depending on your ability, you succeed to stay one day or for a maximum of one month in the hearth of this machine, itself enclosed in the hearth of a well-guarded city, permently and solely organized for these games.

    Depending of how long you stay you get to acquire a well-defined position of authority in the world. If you succeed to “beat the machine,” and stay there for a full month, you become a Non-Aristotelicien and gain a ticket to go colonize Venus, the Null-A world, whish had been “terra formed” and which, because of its opaque atmosphere behaves as a greenhouse, in which the trees are so big that humans are relatively as small as insects, digging their houses in the bodies of those trees and communicating through highways dig in their roots. This is where the story start: “Gosseyn” beats the machine and gains a ticket to Venus where he starts a galactic adventure. It is kind of neat. It was conceived and published in the 40s (1945) by A.E. Van Vogt. It is the most influential book of science fiction that I have ever read (in the 70s). Already at the time (Before the Internet—which I have come to perceive as the evolving “Techno-Cortex” of our Collective Body of Knowledge— I thought that it was as accurate as the 1865 Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, in which:

    The story bears similarities to the real-life 1. Apollo program:

    Verne’s cannon was named the Columbiad; the Apollo 11 command module was named Columbia. [Probably named “Columbia” because of Verne’s novel? My interpretation]

    The spacecraft crew consisted of three persons in each case.

    The physical dimensions of the projectile are very close to the dimensions of the Apollo CSM.

    Verne’s voyage blasted off from Florida, as did all Apollo missions. (This is possibly due to Verne realising, as NASA later did, that objects launch into space most easily if they are launched from the earth’s equator, and Florida is the nearest part of the American mainland.)”


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