I’m speaking blasphemy to most lovers of science fiction, but it occurs to me that while Asimov based all of his fiction upon real science, Jules Verne did not, and yet Verne’s bold imagination better predicted both our achievements and even alluded to how they would be achieved with a farther-reaching accuracy.
While I certainly appreciate realism in stories, the grand nature of their imagination is what appeals so greatly! That they would imagine what could be to the furthest reach of their creativity, not merely basing on what is “likely” or “currently possible” based upon today’s currently limited understanding of just about everything.
For all we like to imagine we have a handle on understanding our universe, it seems every 10-15 years something new emerges that breaks all bonds of understanding with previously settled sciences. I’m not discounting the very intelligent people studying the fabric of spacetime, but c’mon, our own track record proves that we’re capable of learning only so much at a time, and that progression is slow in the grand scheme of things.
It’s the truly inspired who reach out and imagine beyond current sciences. Verne, who had never seen an aircraft, wrote of a vessel propelled to the moon, or of a submarine with such a fantastic engine that it could travel around the world without ever want for fuel.
For my own fiction, I like to think of well beyond. True, I don’t understand science as well as many others. But we don’t dream of fulfilling current sciences, but expand our sciences to reach our dreams! And what are we without dreams that exist beyond our current capabilities, driving us to learn more, push harder, be more daring in pursuit of those dreams?
I’ve never heard of a man dreaming to attain something he could already afford, but something he could not yet afford, a building he had never before built, a business yet designed, a dare yet risked. It is the fantastic that drives us to the highest of ambitions, the most creative of methods, the most ballsy of attempts.
It is the man who saw that birds could fly and wished to do that same that drove him to study a bird’s wings, replicate it and then fly! There was no quality airplane before someone built it, and until the Wright Brothers successfully achieved flight, most of science said it could not be done!
History is nothing if not replete with the dreamers who found the science to support their fantastic visions of what could be, not the dreams to support their science.
As for preferring Verne to Asimov, I’ve never read Verne in full, and Asimov is a wonderful writer. But my point is that Verne wrote dreams before the science was there to support it, and Asimov wrote dreams stretching only so far as the current science allowed. And there is certainly nothing wrong with such fiction. I know many people who dislike the fantastic, and can’t connect with it for its unreality. They prefer something currently grounded.
I love Asimov’s fiction and its reality. But my dreams are not grounded, nor my higher preference in fiction. As I write, I write for as far as I can imagine. I stretch myself to my limit, hoping to capture a dream shared only by the few, one day to bestow in then-reality for others.
That’s how I like my fiction, with the unsupported, the bold and the lofty. To imagine people will one day travel the stars by walking through a doorway, without teleportation or need for jet engines. That we will have power sources that use energy from spacetime, itself. That the now-impossible will become possible.
Dream, my friends, and let no fear of reality keep you from daring. Many minds may not reach what can be in a single day, but pursuing the impossible will keep us pushing ever farther into tomorrow, paving a path the likes of which no one today might hope, but which the children of our children will live without question and use without fault.
“But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” – Yeats