" In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again"

Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Futurism: What does our future look like; Peter Watts, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke

Science fiction writers have long been asked their thoughts on what the future will look like. I am currently reading Arthur C, Clarke's Astounding Days where among other things he discusses his appearances on news broadcasts during the Apollo program and his work on the film 2001. At the time of his death Ray Bradbury was remembered by Disney in the following post.

Honoring Ray Bradbury’s Contribution to Epcot


This morning Helen sent me a post by Canadian science fiction writer Peter Watts about one of his experiences participating in a futurist "think tank". I thought I would include it here because I found it quite interesting. Two things stood out for me. One, there are a lot of really smart inventive people out there with great ideas, and there are also a lot of people out there indulging in fuzzy/wishful thinking. (Probably nothing new) Over all, there was some humour and some food for thought. I could also identify with a number of the concerns, Watts expresses. 


My wife and I have been watching panel discussions put out by the World Science Festival, on topics as diverse as research on the human micro biome, dark matter, and the nature of consciousness. The discussion we probably liked the least featured three scientist doing very interesting research and a philosopher whose contribution to the discussion was, let's be nice and say, less clear. So I could share at least a bit of Watts' pain. But then, I like Watts, am a science geek. As an infant I was placed for some months in a facility to be treated for TB, I may not remember but my family does. I do have a photo, (thanks Aunt Vera) that I will decline to share, I look pretty cheerful, maybe they just feed me. I am only slightly older that the Salk polio vaccine and grew up in neighbourhoods where the memories of dead or crippled children were still fresh. 

"An estimated 11,000 people in Canada were left paralyzed by polio between 1949 and 1954. The disease peaked in 1953 with nearly 9,000 cases and 500 deaths -- the most serious national epidemic since the 1918 influenza pandemic. "


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I underwent cataract surgery in the last two weeks and my vision, in my 60's is literally. the best I have every experienced, they corrected for more than just the cataracts. So the current anti-science rhetoric, stemming it seems from both the left and the right, baffles me. I do still hope for the future utopias some science fiction offers us, but boy are we publishing a lot of dystopian stuff right now, even in the newspapers. I will now dismount from my soap box and take a "Flight to Forever" with Poul Anderson.

Happy Reading

Covers: Future by the great Hannes Bok

Astounding Days by Gavin Harrison

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