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Great Ideas in Science Fiction

 
 
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 09:58 am
What do you think are some of the greatest Ideas explored in Science Fiction over the years?

By "Great Ideas" I don't necessarily mean something which is technically feasible (although those count as well), but something which expands the way we see the world and makes us think of new possibilities.

I'm not so much interested in the stories themselves as those have been discussed before, and I don't want to get into spoilers, but what about the ideas in the stories specifically.

For example, "Warp Drive" as popularized in Star Trek has become an almost household idea even though it is not technically feasible at this point. It's an idea which allows us to bypass the daunting limitations of distances in space and to theorize about other worlds and what we might discover. It has also lead to actual research as real scientists strive toward the idea which is at present well beyond our technical capacity.

Another more obscure example might be the Spherical Statis fields called Bobbles in Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime. In the story, a device exists which can create a "bobble", a spherical stasis field in which time stands still for a specified length of outside time, allowing one-way time travel into the future. The bobble can also be used as a weapon, a shield against other weapons, for storage, for space travel (combined with nuclear pulse propulsion), and other purposes.

What are the most interesting "Ideas" you have encountered in Science Fiction?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 14 • Views: 1,838 • Replies: 37
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tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 12:42 pm
@rosborne979,
The space elevator brought to the world through the great mind of Arthur C. Clarke. It could actually be the great democratizer of escaping Earth and Earth's gravity.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 12:45 pm
@rosborne979,
I like the tales that asserted that aliens "invested their own destinies " in us via viruses that have changed our genomes (or the genomes of the earlier primates to create the "hopeful monsters" waiting on an environmental condition that is favorable to these genomic changes.

Not so far from a possibility , because several "Pseudogenes" reside on our own string that bear the result of the infection by viruses (tht have left their copies of their own DNA onto a specific string of genes like the GULO genes , associated with our chemical inability to create vitamin C).
The sci fi portions are the implied "bio engineering" that the aliens had performed on us. We shall become more like them at a faster pace as new and weird viruses occur on earth. These viruses are mere "Intelligent Design" tools weilded by aliens who have transcended the very needs for corporeal being. (Sounds like the ending should be "And let there be light", since we become the children of the universe

The other thing was the first writing about Alderson "jump spots" where, like "worm holes" a vessel could cross the galaxy or two by knowing the jump spot road map of the universe. Theres a contingent of cosmologists who say that a black hole will not detroy whatever enters its realm, but will "beam it to the next "node" where two or more event horizons cross.



rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 12:50 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

I like the tales that asserted that aliens "invested their own destinies " in us via viruses that have changed our genomes (or the genomes of the earlier primates) to create the "hopeful monsters" waiting on an environmental condition that is favorable to these genomic changes.

I hadn't heard of this one before. Do you remember who wrote or what book it was from?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 12:51 pm
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:
The space elevator brought to the world through the great mind of Arthur C. Clarke. It could actually be the great democratizer of escaping Earth and Earth's gravity.

Clarke had some great ideas. Was he the first to come up with a Space Elevator? I didn't know that.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 12:56 pm
I recall one book from the distant past, but not the title. In it, the space craft hosted a self sustained city and their destination was a new habitable planet.

Then HG Wells antigravity machine was interesting to me. First Men in the Moon.
George
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 01:07 pm
I like the "babel fish" from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I just saw this online. Maybe it's not so far-fetched!
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 01:11 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:
I recall one book from the distant past, but not the title. In it, the space craft hosted a self sustained city and their destination was a new habitable planet.

That's interesting. Years ago Setanta asked if anyone could identify a novel in which this old trope (Colony on an Interstellar Ship) was used, and everyone could remember reading something like that, but I don't recall anyone ever identifying an actual novel.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 01:12 pm
@George,
George wrote:
I like the "babel fish" from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Babel Fish? Is that a translator device of some type? If it's in Hitchhiker's Guide I'm guessing it might be an actual "fish" of some type.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 01:14 pm
I think it really was a fish in Hitchhiker's Guide.

I would love to see beaming, but not for human transport (I have philosophical issues with it). Rather, I would love to see it used for surgery. Just teleport the tumor away.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 01:26 pm
Pertinent article on BBc website today.

Quote:
The Machine Stops: Did EM Forster predict the internet age?

The futuristic world portrayed in The Machine Stops is an eerily familiar one - people mostly communicate with each other via screens, the rarity of face-to-face interaction has rendered it awkward, and knowledge and ideas are only shared by a system that links every home.

Yet that world was imagined not by a contemporary writer but by the Edwardian author Edward Morgan Forster.

Best known for his novels about class and hypocrisy - Howards End, A Room With A View and A Passage To India - The Machine Stops was Forster's only foray into science fiction.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36289890
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 02:01 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:
I recall one book from the distant past, but not the title. In it, the space craft hosted a self sustained city and their destination was a new habitable planet.

That's interesting. Years ago Setanta asked if anyone could identify a novel in which this old trope (Colony on an Interstellar Ship) was used, and everyone could remember reading something like that, but I don't recall anyone ever identifying an actual novel.


I have searched for the story online. I am beginning to think it may have been a novelette instead of a complete book.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 02:14 pm
@rosborne979,
I think it was Peter Hamilton in one of his series where people had implants that would allow them to communicate across interstellar distances and have insane amounts of information at their fingertips. If you tape people's smartphones to their heads you would just about have that now.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 02:30 pm
@engineer,
Star Trek: Stun guns, e-readers, cell phones.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 02:52 pm
@jespah,
jespah wrote:
I think it really was a fish in Hitchhiker's Guide.


Yep, reading that book now and it was a fish inserted into the ear.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 04:12 pm
@edgarblythe,
The closest thing to this I ever read was The Worthing Saga.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 04:21 pm
@rosborne979,
It had to be an author who wrote from the 30s 0r 40s into the 60s.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 07:37 pm
Another one I liked was I think from A Mote in God's Eye. They had a type of robot called a christmas tree I think. It was a collection of microscopic machines which could link with each other to form larger versions of itself, or any other shape it needed.

Then Michael Chrichton wrote Prey, which dealt with a swarm of nano robots.

I always liked the idea of Nano Machines being able to form themselves into larger and more complex forms.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 07:55 pm
So many writers envisioned debit cards/cash withdrawals by credit cards. That may just have been laziness, though--it was easier than imagining money transactions in the future. But it did come to pass.
0 Replies
 
TomTomBinks
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 May, 2016 11:24 pm
@rosborne979,
"Dyson Sphere" or similar structures. Like in Larry Niven's "Ringworld"
 

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