Perhaps I should rephrase my objection a bit and say, rather, “The Problem With Those Who Militantly Push Mundane-SF’. Over on the Mundane-SF blog, author ‘goatchurch’ has an anti-Michi Kaku rant, where he take Kaku to taks for his book Parallel Worlds and his occupation as an astrophysicist. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Let me start by first pointing out I now absolutely nothing about ‘goatchurch’, his (I’m assuming a he here) background or education. With that in mind, he says, speaking of Parallel Worlds: “it seems to be the source of a lot of SF speculation about Time, Space, and Multiverse travel which supposedly makes all of Mundane SF irrelevant.”
It makes mundane-sf irrelevant? Really? According to who? I know many people have taken the mundanes to task over their stance, but that’s more because of the mundane’s belief that SF should only be mundane and their no holds barred attitude toward proclaiming their belief. I don’t see Kaku stating that mundane-sf is irrelevant. In fact, I don’t see anyone saying that at all. It’s certainly a viable form of SF, and I happen to enjoy stories set in a mundane setting (see our Gradisil review).
Goatchurch then goes on to say, “Flicking forward, I can tell I’m not going to like this M-space stuff.” The implication here is that he hasn’t been exposed to M-space, but as it introduces non-mundane ideas into SF, he won’t like. Or, maybe he just doesn’t believe that the universe can be that weird. I don’t know. But this hints at what I think is the biggest issue I have with those who push Mundane-SF at the expense of all other types.
The rest of the entry is basically goatchurch haranguing Kaku for appearing on the BBC and being a popular scientist that many news agencies go to for interviews. Of course, Kaku likes to talk about big ideas: Kardshev civilizations, the Fermi paradox, and mankind moving out into the universe.
At the end, Kaku is quoted discussing his beliefs about how man can move on to become a Type I civilization, with a bonus ‘solution’ thrown in for Fermi. Goatchurch says:
(I lean over and weep into my hands.)
I pretty much agree with the particle physicist Martinus Veltman that astrophysicists are full of crap, which he explained in a lecture I blogged about in February.
These are dangerous ideas. Of the kind that believing you can fly off a cliff with a pair of cardboard wings is a dangerous idea.
So we get an ad hominem tossed at all astrophysicists, then an unsupported assertion about ‘dangerous ideas’, with no explanation about which ideas are dangerous, to whom, or why.
Is it not possible that Kaku, with a Ph.D in physics, and an author of many books on physics and superstring theory, just might know what he’s talking about? That physics does allow for the wild ideas that goatchurch seems to dislike? Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean its likely or even achievable.
This apparent dislike for the ‘big’ ideas in astrophysics leads me to my conclusion about the Mundane-SF pushers: a lack of imagination. Of course, it may be that they are against sense of wonder and fun too.
As I stated before, I don’t mind reading mundane stories, but their choice of setting limits the available stories and time/space scales to choose from. They have a built in limiter to their imagination. I say, if you’re going to dream, why not dream big?