The Consilience of Science Fiction

Let’s do something different today. What is this blog about, and what am I trying to support, or promote?

It’s about the idea that science fiction is a key way of thinking about the world, maybe the best way. I just posted about that Justin Gregg book about how the existential threat to humanity is our inability to anticipate long-term consequences, and whether humanity can overcome short-term thinking to save itself.

Science fiction is all about long-term thinking. As a literature, it combines such thinking with the subjective and cultural. From a draft of another essay, not yet posted:

The best science fiction writing is a meeting between C.P. Snow’s “two cultures”: a blend of the rigorous scientific worldview, with the artistry of the subjective, circumstantial cultural worldview. SF is where real scientists and real writers intersect. Ideally, potentially, it’s the consilience of everything.

Science fiction and fantasy are not variations of each other (as many claim), though in practice they often blur. One takes the idea of objective reality seriously; the other indulges in the dreams and fantasies of human nature (magic will return!) that contradict our cumulative understanding of that objective reality. (That they tell similar kinds of stories is incidental; humans are wired to prefer similar kinds of stories.)

These ideas are big themes for that book I’ve imagined writing for fully 10 years now, and likely will never finish, or publish (and if I did, no one would notice).

Some of these ideas overlap with concerns about Locus Magazine, and how to keep it going. That’s confidential.

For now, for whatever this means, here’s an article at a few days ago, about the works of John Brunner, a British SF writer who died in 1995 (at the World SF Convention in Glasgow, which I attended). His best books live on, after all these years. And what strikes me is how many comments the article has accumulated — 31 by today. This may not seem a lot compared posts on the big news sites, like CNN, but compared to sites like (or my own site here), it’s enormous., James Davis Nicoll, 20 Sep 2022: A Crash Course Through the Worlds of John Brunner: 10 Essential Books

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