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Augments, straw-men and techno-optimism
(05-16-2015, 03:28 AM)Rynn Wrote: That's a fair point Todd, though I feel that one could write a story without being totally one or the other.

And I'm not disagreeing with youSmile I'm just pointing out some of the challenges that go with writing this sort of story and that likely contribute to such being rare. To add to that list:

a) An author would need to keep the reader's interest across a fairly significant chunk of the book describing the failures and incremental progress. For historical figures, such as Thomas Edison, this sort of thing can be done (has been done) successfully for readers who like that kind of thing. Doing it for a future/fictional tech would be challenging.

b) An author would likely need to juggle or sequentially introduce and work with a variety of characters over the course of the story. Real science research and development is usually a team oriented kind of thing these days, not the work of a single genius laboring alone in a lab. But look at how much fiction has depicted the latter vs the former. In part because it's probably easier to write about 1-3 characters and also keep the reader interested in them.

c) The author would need to have a very broad and deep understanding of the science or tech being developed, either based on RL science or by working out a detailed fictional science (physics, chem, whatever) to base the fictional tech on.

You're our resident expert on RL nanotech - how much effort would it take you to map out a development path from where we are now to full Drexlerian nanotech or something like it? Including realistic failures and difficulties and how they are eventually figured out and overcome?

Not saying it couldn't be done/hasn't been done, just that it's probably not easy.

Speaking of it 'being done', in my experience these types of stories were more common in the past and often dealt with things like spaceflight and the development of the solar system. Possibly because the engineering of such (even the theoretical bits) was pretty well worked out in many cases. Also because it was generally accepted that progress would be difficult and take some time. Although even there, a lot of the stories often focused more on the human difficulties (funding, politics, relationships in closed environments far from home) than the technical per se.

(05-16-2015, 03:28 AM)Rynn Wrote: For example; a story on the impact of tech that has as a major part of the settings history a long period of notable failures. Alternatively the long story could happen but with the story/series skipping over time, kind of how the Mars Trilogy covers 200 years by frequently skipping a few years or decades between chapters.

I've seen stories that do this, particularly the later option. Note that the Mars Trilogy is sort of an example of what I'm talking about. It takes three whole books to tell everything (and made me practically feel like I'd lived through those 200yrs). How many authors have the wherewithal to write that much and how many publishers to produce it?

In terms of other books that have done this somewhat successfully, I would suggest the following:

The Crucible of Time by John Brunner

Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward

Interestingly, both of these are about non-human races developing technology rather than humans inventing something new. I'm sure there are others, just can't recall them atm.


Messages In This Thread
Augments, straw-men and techno-optimism - by Rynn - 05-16-2015, 01:07 AM
RE: Augments, straw-men and techno-optimism - by Drashner1 - 05-16-2015, 12:28 PM
RE: Augments, OT - by quakfusion - 06-01-2015, 01:12 PM

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