My Played-out SF Fads, Let Me Show You Them...Posted by A. at 2:13 PM
But it's always zany to see other folks reaching similar conclusions themselves... (From A.R.Yngve's "Notes Toward Becoming A Better Writer")
All science-fiction fads, when you look back at them, seem naive. They are invariably rooted in the wishful thinking and cultural anxieties of their time and audience. But they were popular because they offered a phony wish-fulfillment "solution" to real problems, or articulated an irrational anxiety.
Real problem: The reader, though intelligent and educated, is physically puny and gets sand kicked in his face by stronger, dumber guys.
SF "Solution": Psi powers ("I may look weak on the outside, but I have hidden mental powers!").
Real anxiety: Where are the aliens?
SF "Solution": There is intelligent life on Mars (despite zero evidence to prove it).
Real problem: Space is enormously huge. Traveling to other stars would take hundreds or thousands of years.
SF "Solution": Faster-Than-Light space travel (Ask Star Trek fans how the warp drive works. Yes, really. Ask them.).
Real anxiety: People who don't understand computers are scared of them, and fear losing their jobs to automation.
SF articulation of anxiety: Evil intelligent computers take over the world (despite zero evidence of this actually happening).
Real anxiety: You're going to die.
SF "Solution": When the Singularity comes, we'll all be uploaded into a giant computer network and live forever as digitized souls.
It's not that I dislike using one's imagination -- far from it. But when SF readers and writers confuse "If Only" with "For Sure," you get embarrassments like "psi powers" and "the Singularity Movement"... or the "Super Adventure Fun Club" (created by a science-fiction writer). People start mistaking obvious fictions for future reality. Intellectual speculation becomes Manifest Destiny.
Continue reading here.
(compliments of sf signal)