Repercussions of Science

DNA Chain

Science fiction has paved the way for greater technology, but what about the consequences? Robert Sawyer, winner of the Hugo, Aurora, and Nebula awards for best science fiction novel of the year, discusses science fiction gives us the freedom to explore the repercussions of advances in science and technology in his article for Slate titled “The Purpose of Science Fiction.”

While most scientists of today are hesitant to acknowledge the ramifications of developing more intelligent animals, gene splicing, and various other controversial topics due to the ever present need for funding, science fiction writers have no such limitation. They are free to explore the good and the bad of scientific development.

At the core of science fiction is the notion of extrapolation, of asking, "If this goes on, where will it lead?" And, unlike most scientists who think in relatively short time frames—getting to the next funding deadline, or readying a product to bring to market—we think on much longer scales: not just months and years, but decades and centuries.

Science fiction writers have the opportunity to show potential future outcomes of controversial advances in science and technology. For example, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of advances in beauty technology, including its effects on societal behavior.

If you’d like to read more of Sawyer’s article, click here.