Chester Beedle wrote: ↑
Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:15 am
I wonder if a lot is that the writers have such open minds and imaginations that they can foresee new uses sooner than the rest of society.
Well, I suspect that there is some of that, yes. But what I got from the article is that the pairing of the writers and the development people is a full interdependent, reciprocal and resonating synergy. Someone invents something, someone who writes thinks of that in terms of an extended or ongoingly developed context, the originator (or someone else) is inspired by the story to create another reality, and the process repeats.
An example not given in the article is that of Dr. Edward Edgar Smith. He wrote first the Skylark
series, and then turned his attention to his Lensman
series. In the first of those, he speculated about a material he called allotropic iron, a ferrous substance that existed in liquid form at standard temperature and pressure, and which could be reacted to give off huge amounts of energy.
- Smith was widely read by scientists and engineers from the 1930s into the 1970s. Literary precursors of ideas which arguably entered the military-scientific complex include the SDI (Triplanetary), stealth (Gray Lensman), the OODA Loop, C3-based warfare, and the AWACS (Gray Lensman).
An inarguable influence was described in a June 11, 1947, letter to Doc from John W. Campbell (the editor of Astounding
, where much of the Lensman
series originally was published). In it, Campbell relayed Captain Cal Laning's acknowledgment that he had used Smith's ideas for displaying the battlespace situation (called the "tank" in the Lensman
series) in the design of the United States Navy's ships' Combat Information Centers. "The entire set-up was taken specifically, directly, and consciously from the Directrix. In your story, you reached the situation the Navy was in — more communication channels than integration techniques to handle it. You proposed such an integrating technique and proved how advantageous it could be. You, sir, were 100% right. As the Japanese Navy — not the hypothetical Boskonian fleet — learned at an appalling cost."
Lesser - but not inconsequential - concepts he described in the Lensman
series included high-intensity amplified light beams (lasers) used as weapons, the plate (flat-screen monitor) display, a hand-rigged device to electrically simulate a non-repeating event controller (random number generator), armored and force-multiplied powered battle suits, and oh so much more. His really was a remarkable mind, and he inspired so much of development toward things we consider commonplace today without realizing their genesis.
Items I have seen go from SF pages to reality just in my lifetime include: atomic weapons, generation of electrical energy using nuclear physics, the Mini-Sec (a pocket-sized combined audio/visual communications and data retrieval device - IE: the smart-phone) from Arthur C. Clark's Imperial Earth
, laser technology, LED data monitors and TVs, keyboards with reassignable key functions and even reprogrammable touch-screen versions, space satellites, space stations, Humans landing on Luna, instant views of global weather, instant views of global terrain, microwave ovens, personal computers, computer-driven notebooks and book readers, the Internet, integrated circuits, and hundreds more.
How many of these were developed in your lifetime?