UK SF Writers On Science Fact

The BBC News site ran an article today featuring interviews with four well-known writers about the relationship between science fiction and science fact.


( [top left] Ken Macleod, Paul Cornell, Iain Banks, Ian Watson)

Ken Macleod

I work with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Genomics Policy and Research Forum, and every day an email full of links to the latest bioscience stories hits my inbox.

Each day there's a new marvel - a single molecule radio here, a synthetic ribosome there. But the marvel that's easy to miss is that this email is compiled by a computer program, trawling for key words and phrases on the internet.

It's a bit like having a robot telling me that science fiction is becoming science fact.

Paul Cornell

The mundane movement is challenging writers to drop ideas that once promised to be scientific ones, but are now considered as fantasy - faster than light travel, telepathy etc - and to concentrate on the problems of the human race being confined to an Earth it is using up.

Iain Banks

I read New Scientist and Scientific American, but I'm not reading peer-reviewed journals to keep up with latest science.

Occasionally, I take ideas and inspiration from these sources and incorporate them into a science fiction novel. But I certainly don't feel pressure to keep stories completely realistic.

Ian Watson

A recent, undoubtedly short-lived school of thought, mundane science fiction, wishes to stick to the facts and eschew any flights of fancy such as starships or aliens.

How very boring of them, say I. What, no zany thought experiments?

Zaniness is an important part of science fiction, as well as operating within a certain framework of rationality.

From How sci-fi moves with the times - Can science fiction keep up with modern science?.

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