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Old 09-18-2012, 11:19 AM   #18
calvin-c
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I remember an essay about science fiction-by Poul Anderson, I think. According to it the true value of science fiction isn't predicting changes in technology but predicting the social effects of those changes. The part I remember was about science fiction that might have been written in 1880-1900. The automobile was visible, if not yet commonly known. So the technological change would be the prevalence of the automobile. No problem if you treat it like a horse. ("The hero jumped into his automobile & raced off in pursuit of the bad guys.") But the true value was in predicting how the automobile would allow people to live further away from their jobs, thus creating suburbs, and provide more privacy for lovers, thus increasing 'back seat' sex, etc.

In that view, Asimov's writing is very good. Although he couldn't predict technology beyond nuclear fusion (really? what about hyperspace jumps?) he predicted the social changes well. Whether or not he's accurate remains to be seen-but I haven't seen any evidence (yet) that he's wrong.
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