I have never completely understood the latest sci-fi fixation with ‘super powers’, where the main protagonist is just some ordinary person who just happens to be able to go invisible, or read minds, or teleport (but not all three). Inevitably this singular ability then becomes the ‘gimmick’ on which plots are hung. To which I… More Why super-powers should be all or nothing in sci-fi
I never cease to be amazed at the number of ‘predictions’ about some new device or trend that will ‘be our future’, like the cashless society or flying cars. They never are, of course, but we never let go of the fantasy that they will be. They will be. Not this time, but next time.… More Why we can’t predict the future, except a bit
There is a wonderful aphorism credited to Albert Einstein – ‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid’. He didn’t necessarily say it, but it’s something he could have said. And it sums up one of… More Failing to escape the tyranny of twentieth century thinking – the junk science of psychology
There is an old adage about letting things go; if you deserve them, they’ll come back. It’s been duly satirised. ‘If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t come back, hunt it down and kill it’. To me that’s insightful about the human condition as the original. And the message is simple –… More The most powerful emotion humans have is…
The idea that humans are, in truth, psychotic apes who would brutally smash each other were it not for the thin trappings of culture has long been a sci-fi staple, and with reason. What would happen if, say, culture was suddenly stripped from a group of kids? To William Golding the answer was simple; the… More Are we just psychotic apes, or are we human?
One of my favourite books as a kid was Robert A Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. It was the last of his ‘juveniles’, written in 1958 as a deliberate riff on space opera and 1950s teen culture. It’s set in an undefined ‘near future’ and pivots around a spacesuit won by teen genius Kip Russell,… More Have Spacesuit, Will Be a Klutz In It
One of the books in my collection is Patrick Moore’s Do You Speak Venusian? It’s a hilarious take on ‘alternative thinkers’ in the 1950s and 1960s – and on their theories about everything from the Earth being flat to the Aetherius Society. Moore, it seems, went to a meeting of the Aetherius Society, fronted by… More The funny world of alternative thinkers