The power of stories to inspire has held true for all of human history. Today, science fiction has the power to inspire breakthroughs that change our world. Companies used words like robot and android after they were popularized in fiction, and today’s STEM experts often say they were first inspired by stories they read when they were young.
To build powerful fictional worlds, creative types must understand scientific principles, the structure of theories, the reasoning behind opposing ideas, calculations, and data by the ream. Writers must understand what is possible, what is impossible, and which impossibilities might become possibilities under the right circumstances.
The book Blockbuster Science: The Real Science in Science Fiction fills that need. I wrote it to help readers to understand a few of the more popular topics in science as well as how they are used (and sometimes misused) in science fiction. It is for writers who want to inject solid science into their creations. For new writers, it is also a great source for plot ideas.
Curiosity about our world drives fiction authors and filmmakers to explore the realm of possibility. Science fiction is about change, a world (or worlds) yet to be. Science fiction can explore a hopeful world where problems are solved, or a dangerous (dystopian) world where problems are caused, or a world of existential threats such as drastic climate change or destruction by asteroid
What if change is impossible, unlikely, or even unimaginable? By today’s standards, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the idea of a different type of future (socially, technologically, politically) would be alien. This is not a fantasy, however. It’s human history.
There was a time when the things that our ancestors observed just didn’t change all that much. The idea of wildly different futures didn’t exist in the age of limited science. Plenty of fiction lurked about, including the magical thinking of fantasy, but stories about radically different tomorrows due to changes in technology, not so much. Back then, people usually didn’t travel far from their towns or villages. Mostly they performed the same daily tasks that their parents and grandparents had, and they performed those tasks in the same way.
Enter the Industrial Revolution. The technology and social norms that arose during this period were radically different than they had been in the previous century. After this time, extreme lifestyle changes that occurred within a single generation became commonplace. During this new age, the common wisdom among the common people was that the future was going to be different. But different in what ways?
Welcome, science fiction.
Before I go I will let you in on a little secret. Blockbuster Science isn’t only for science fiction fans and writers who want to know more about the science behind the plot. This book is for the curious—anyone who wants to know more about the natural world and the universe of which they are a part. It’s for the science geek in everyone.