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Greatest Discoveries/inventions in SciFi literary history

  • Mar 5, 2011
1
Inertia Drive from E.E. Doc Smith's The Lensman
Inertia drive allowed for the space vessels to go "Free" & thereby move without speed or motion. The Lensman series created a sometimes dated but always fascinating tale that displayed a storyline focused on a chosen line of genetically manipulated progeny who become heroes by proxy in the ultimate struggle of good v. evil. Arisa versus Enddore since the dawn of time have both intervened in the histories of countless worlds. But with mankind the stage is set for climactic battles that link the chosen Lensmen to technological & scientific advancements enabling their defense of the galaxy against eternal
See the full review, "Lensmen Series".
2
Forbidden Planet star was the embodiment of Asimov's Laws of Robotics & the "Positronic Brain. Before Hal 9000, Star Trek's Dr. Daestrom computer or sentient android Data; there was Robby...Robot for the ages....eclipsed only by Asimov's [Robots of Dawn] versions including the Bi-Centennial Man who gave up immortality to become human for love's sake... Bradbury also addressed this in "I Sing, the Body Electric" or was that P.K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
See the full review, "Man & Machine: The Pinnochio Theory".
3
The Seldon Plan Psycho-History
Prolific in its vision, Foundation has given us a predecessor to the Age of Information. There can be no greater leverage then the knowledge of future history. There can also be no more poignant danger than antagonists who which to subvert that destiny in an effort to alter history and the balance of power for galactic empire.
4
Invisibile Man
Along with "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" this seminal scifi creation not only alludes to human nature to become separated from accountability of actions but also addresses what happens when near omnipotence gives way to the madness of power divorced from morality. Outward invisibility is balanced with internal visibility of the Id's monstrous corruption [i.e. Picture of Dorian Gray]...Today's version of this could be the Nuclear "Mad Theory of Deterrence" giving way to the "New World Order' driven by U.S. Stealth Technology.
See the full review, "Knock, Knock, Who's There?".
5
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Allowed for the creation of the Genesis Device which created & re-organized organic matter from inorganic lifeless nothing.
6
Human creation of synthetic life
Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is arguably the origin of all science fiction...Her work established the quintessential externalization of mankind's ultimate sin, the desire to become God...
7
The Andromeda Strain
Michael Creighton's epic tale revealed the gravity of human technological deceit & scientific vanity. The attempted manipulation of an alien virus for use as a biological weapon threatens Humanity with extinction. Master the bug or it will master you...
8
The planetary energy grid
From "The Quiet Earth" invention & use of this grid harnesses a new-found energy unknown to physics [aka 'Dark Energy']. When the field is actuated Earth itself is transported into a trans-dimensional journey outside the known universe...This is called "The Effect"
9
The Time Machine (1960)
This story was maybe one of the first to address the theory of temporal paradox & its consequences
10
The Illustrated Man
Ray Bradbury's haunting tale [reminiscent of "Sailing to Byzantium] is a precursor for altered states of reality & the question of what it means to exist in muliple dimensional planes. Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" is yet another fine example for the power of slipping and becoming "un-stuck in time"
See the full review, "Unstuck in time...Alternate Reality".
11
Childhood's End
Introduction of the transformation and ascent of the human race to the next stage of evolution by way of alien first contact with "The Overlords"
12
The Black Oblisk
2001: Space Odessey-Appearance & Discovery of the mysterious Obelisk reveals the origin & the future of Homo-Erectus. It also foreshadows humanity's entrance into the cosmic community hallmarked by the eventual conversion of Jupiter from a failed-sun Gas-giant to the partner of Sol as the twin centers of this solar system''s binary star combo....
13
Event Horizon (1997)
Creation of the Gravity-Drive. It's "Folding of Space" inadvertently allowed first travel beyond the universe...
14
Dune
Evolving promotion of 'The Navigator's use of Arakis Spice for the Folding of Space also allowed for the creation of the first Super-Being, Paul Atrades
15
Ever since "Pinocchio" the concept of the non-human creation surpassing its creator to become 'human or more than human' remains a truth seen in every cyborg, android, robot, artificial intelligence scenario. Hence, the immortality we seek is always confronted by our journey to define what exactly does it mean to be human anyway...Asimov search & discovery of "The Positronic Brain" is indicative & seminal of this search.
17
Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The satirical invention of the "Probability Drive" allowed for the inclusion of a multi-dimensional, multiple universe model of existence. It also allowed for the use of Quantum physics Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as a driving theory for the mechanics of bodies in motion.
18
Gene Roddenberry
The creation of anti-matter dilithium crystal engine, the matter transporter {ala The Fly], the Phaser, Photon Torpedoes...
19
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
Harlan Ellison's epic tale that described the tormented relationship between man and machine pre-dated the Matrix series, Colossus: Forbin Project, Hall 9000, Terminator & the onset of Skynet

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September 05, 2011
This list was most helpful for a couple of panels I did at Renovation (World Science Fiction Convention in Reno). I was struck by how old the literary examples are, and we had some interesting discussions as we tried to figure out where science fiction can go. One smart young writer put it well: Science fiction of the past proposed solutions to the problems of the past; we don't know what the problems of the future will be, so proposing solutions to those is challenging. He pointed out the "flying car syndrome"--an sfnal solution to a problem that didn't develop. He also pointed out that hardly anyone foresaw the internet, except perhaps William Gibson.
 
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Jeffery Massey ()
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