I like to say that reading science fiction makes me a better scientist. Although it is entirely possible I am just rationalizing my voracious consumption of the genre, I see connections between novels and research all the time. I first realized the similarities between science fiction and science during a course reading and discussing Darwin for his 200th birthday/ 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species. We were asked to analyze Darwin’s most famous works from multiple perspectives. In my presentation of a literary analysis of Darwin’s writings, I suggested that he and science fiction writers shared a lot in common.
From the Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals:
“… if the structure of our organs of respiration and circulation had differed in only a slight degree from the state in which they now exist, most of our expressions would have been wonderfully different.”
I argued that science fiction authors do exactly what Darwin speculated on above. They imagine a world that differs in a slight degree (or sometimes in a large degree) and describe how that shift changes individuals and the situations in which they find themselves. The goal of Darwin and science fiction authors is the same, to make you question the way things are, and why? And what could they be?
Every time I read an article that makes me think of a sci-fi novel, or vice versa, I get excited. I intend on detailing these connections in posts tagged ’Science Fiction Science’ and using it as an opportunity to share how fascinating I find the intimate relationship between reality and imagination in science and literature. As well as for motivation to continue reading novels in my free time and working toward my goal of one day reading all the Nebula and/or Hugo award winners.