Thursday, August 12, 2010

SciFi and realism - Making history with Ran Levi

Making History with Ran Levi (עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי) takes, every once in a while, an excursion into the world of SciFi literature. Usually to discuss the life and work of one writer of SciFi or another, but this time a subject slightly differently. (feed)

SciFi, obviously, needs to be a work of fiction which relies on science and some kind of imaginative extrapolation where science could bring us. Needless to say, both the extrapolation as well as the fiction stretch the science quite a bit, but to a certain extent, the science still must be accurate. Ran Levi kicks off with an example, the TV series Space 1999, which has the moon get marooned in space and he tells how none other than Isaac Asimov took exception with the scientific inaccuracy in the story. It shows that bad science can wreck an otherwise good piece of fiction.

Another example is that of Larry Niven's Ringworld, which seemed to me very sound as I read it, but which has a serious flaw as Levi explains on the show. In the rest of the series Niven went to great lengths repairing his scientific inaccuracies. But as Levi also shows, if the SciFi writer will do everything to make his science OK, his fiction might falter. And that is the conclusion of this entertaining show: the science needs to be accurate, but to certain extent imagination should be allowed to stretch it, even beyond accuracy, for the sake of the story. It seems like an impossible hole.

More Making History with Ran Levi:
The history of Anesthetics,
Social Engineering for hackers,
Ran Levi, then, now and about the Long Now,
Of nightmares and sleepwalking,
Mass Extinctions.