Monday, July 07, 2008

the thing about sci-fi

If I've said this before, I apologize. One Tired Blogger reminded me of it.

I’m pretty good at suspending disbelief and letting myself get lost in whatever film or book I’m enjoying. But the thing about sci-fi that jars me sometimes is technological inconsistency — when some technologies advance and other don’t.

That does happen, of course, but it has to happen in sensible places. For example, we’re still building structures out of concrete, bolts, and screws thousands of years after those things were originally invented. But TVs won’t be around 100 years from now. They’ll be replaced by other video communication technologies; such as holograms, flexible screens, and LCD paints.

A lot of sci-fi stories make the mistake of imagining what the world would be like with a handful of technological improvements while ignoring other technologies included in the story. If your astronaut’s going to eat toast for breakfast, take 10 minutes to ask whether a 20th-century toaster should be in the background.

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