Anyone who has been reading this blog probably has guessed by now that I am a fan of science fiction. This day celebrates that genre. January 2 was chosen because it is the official birthday of Isaac Asimov, who was born in 1920. He has a special place in my heart, not only because I enjoy his writing, but because I once heard him speak in person. A prolific writer, he published something like 500 books and hundreds of short stories, not only in science fiction but in science as well, because he was a biochemist. Probably his best-known work is the Foundation Series about a future civilization, but his most enduring gift to the science fiction community is the three laws of robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. In most science fiction that involves robots, these are now a given.
Science fiction is a broad field, which, though it most often takes place in the future, is usually talking about some social problem of today. One good place to see this through time this is Doctor Who, which began in 1963. If you follow the series, you can get an idea of what people were worried about or thinking about over a span of time. In the early days, it was the Nazi’s, represented by the Daleks; whether replacing human parts with cybernetic implants would eventually make people inhuman, as with the Cybermen; or whether the at that time new computers would eventually take over the world. In more modern times, they have dealt with people becoming controlled through their technology; the acceptance of immigrants; and arguing about the morality of war – is it right to kill a million people to save a billion? And ever since the beginning through all its history, it has been about siding with the powerless against the powerful and standing up for the right against evil.
So celebrate today by reading some science fiction, or watching a science fiction movie or science fiction on television. Enjoy!
Quotes about Science Fiction
Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.–Isaac Asimov
Here’s a quick rule of thumb Don’t annoy science fiction writers. These are people who destroy entire planets before lunch. Think of what they’ll do to you.–John Scalzi
…science fiction is something that could happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen – though often you only wish that it could.–Arthur C. Clark
If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.–Philip K. Dick
Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.–J. G. Ballard
Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. … Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.–Ray Bradbury
Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.–Ursula K. LeGuin
In hard-core science fiction in which characters are responding to a change in environment, caused by nature or the universe or technology, what readers want to see is how people cope, and so the character are present to cope, or fail to cope.–James Gunn
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