I’m in a gradual process of compiling links and references to my Provisional Conclusions, including a number of sites I’ve bookmarked in various places about the size of the universe. Today, David Brin has posted a set of links about just such sites, including the famous “Powers of 10” video — by Charles & Ray Eames (yes, the furniture designers), which is also at YouTube at Powers Of Ten (Charles & Ray Eames), and which Brin links to their own site here.
The universe is vast in size, age, and scale.
More broadly, I’m contemplating how to explore how science fiction supports, or illustrates, my ‘provisional conclusions’. Obviously, there is no one set of conclusions within science fiction about the future, or how humanity relates to reality; but though I think there is *general* trend on these topics, I couldn’t defend such a thesis without exploring a relatively objective set of ‘core’ SF novels and stories, identified by some means other than my intuition about whether or not they support my thesis. That would be cherry-picking. On the other hand, it might be just an example of gathering available evidence to support one’s theory, the way science works. (Though of course science, to pass any kind of peer review, cannot ignore conflicting evidence.)
For now, I’ve begun to revisit and read various science fiction histories and encyclopedia that I’ve accumulated over the years in my library, with the intent of identifying the ‘core’ works alluded to above, as well as the various ideas of what ‘science fiction’ is, and how its preoccupations and themes have changed over the decades.
All of which is context for mentioning this link, at io9: 11 Science Fiction Books That Are Regularly Taught in College Classes.
Despite what critics and historians think about what are the most important or best works, popular culture often identifies other works — especially films and TV works — that form culture’s idea of what science fiction is about. I think that my exploration of my thesis will limit itself to print works (and with a focus more on short fiction rather than novels, except for the couple hundred ‘core’ novels), but I can’t not take into account media works in any survey of what science fiction means.