Episode 8: Science Fiction

This month we looked at science fiction, otherwise known as the fiction of science, and how the way we think about science fiction. Also, we like Star Trek.

  • Icebreaker: What piece of science fiction technology would you like to see in real life?
    • Joy: Teleportation, instantaneous travel to wherever we like.
    • Dan: Matter replication, instant gratification of material desires.
    • Jim: Headware, machines in our heads to make us smarter.
  • What is Science Fiction, and where does it come from?
    • Science fiction doesn’t have to take place in the future, but it’s a genre that focuses on technological advances and their consequences for people.
    • Early science fiction includes the work of Jonathan Swift, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
    • Now, science fiction is a part of our mainstream culture, with things like Firefly, Iron Man, and Prometheus.
    • Science fiction is not science fantasy, which are more common dramatic themes set in a science fiction universe, like Star Wars or John Carter of Mars.
  • How does science fiction relate to actual science?
    • Science fiction can inspire us to create new technologies, like they did in Star Trek. Check out the documentary How William Shatner Changed the World.
    • Michio Kaku evaluates the possibility of various science fiction technologies in the Physics of the Impossible.
    • Science fiction is based on what we can conceive of in our own technology, whether that’s interstellar communications using vacuum tubes like in the Venus Equilateral, or centralized computing in old Terminator comics.
    • Adam Savage explores possibilities for immortality on Discovery’s Curiosity.
    • What does science fiction have to do with Northrop Frye? Check out our first episode to find out.


We have one final shoutout to H. G. Wells, who we’ll be talking about more at the end of July, where we go from the future to the past, and talk about the radio!