Science fictions is often lacking in fiction
Science fiction as a subgenre of fiction has grown in popularity to a point of mainstream saturation. I find however, that many is not most science fiction stories follow a boring pattern concerning the actual science. One takes a current field of science, moves along its logical axis, and extrapolates a new idea. This idea is then filled with a few interesting characters, and a narative is built around it. Innovations on non-fictional science come in the form of improvements rather than actual creative changes.
For instance, one may take the field of computer simulation and video games, combined with current-day human-machine interfaces, and extrapolate a totally seamless simulated world. The success of such a story will hinge entirely on the quality of it’s characters because the science is not all that interesting.
Another popular field of science is astrophysics. One takes modern space-travel and adds an sci-fi adjective. We can make faster-than-light space-travel, interstellar space-travel, commercial space-travel, we can make colonies and write new pioneer stories, or focus on extraterrestrial life (which always bears remarkable resemblance to terrestrial life). In any case the innovations are additive, rather than transformative.
All of these ideas are not exactly innovative, they are logical possibilities given the direction science is already heading. Compare this to regular fiction, there explanations are often less warranted, “magic” is a catch-all explanation, and creativity can flow freely. In this field, a lot more genuinely interesting and innovative stories can be told.
This post is not about these stories however, nor really about science fiction. Rather, it exists to sing the praise of two authors who I have had the pleasure of reading over the past two years or so. These authors both write under pseudonyms and call themselves Exurb1a and Qntm. Rather than taking the approach outlined above, of taking a current field of science and carrying it to a logical point of development, these authors tend to invent whole new fields of science.
In Qntm’s “There is no antimemetics division”, the focus is on the field of memetics, the study of ideas. Whereas normal memes facilitate reproduction in other minds, or on physical storage devices, Antimemes are ideas which resist their own spread. This may take the form of a thing which humans are inclined to forget, or as lifeforms, which shield themselves in complete unistrestingness. In the real world, memetics itself is not a very developed field of science, if it can be called at science at all. Therefore, a novel set in a world where memetics is a science alongside physics, chemistry, biology, etc. would already be interesting enough in its own right. Instead, Qntm takes the concept yet another step further and chooses to write about antimemetic-threats and infohazards. These are ideas which pose a threat to various aspects of human life while evading detection my not being remembered. I could not begin to do the concept justice here, and therefore suggest that you read the work yourself. It is available for free on the author’s website.
The book “Ra”, also by Qntm, explores and equally interesting field of fictional science. Though, since I have not yet finished the book, I cannot begin to describe the field with any precision. Nevertheless, I am about two thirds of the way done, and can already wholeheartedly recommend the work.
Moving on from Qntm, I wish to discuss “The Fifth Science” by Exurb1a. This book explores the science of consciousness as its own distinct field. Consciousness, in the universe of this book, is measurable and quantifiable property matter which is influenced by mathematics, fields, particles, and chemicals, and can be harnessed and modified to a desired form. While I do not which to spoil the work for any potential readers, I will say that Exurb1a managed to craft a number of decidedly interesting conscious creatures through his employment of the fifth (fictional) science. The book is written as a series of short stories (one of which is available as a free audio book on Youtube).
The last book I with to highlight is the most recently published, and covers the exploration of higher-dimentioal physics. This is, of course, a part of modern physics, which is (as far as I am aware) only theoretical at the moment. In “Geometry of Oscelots”, Exurb1a writes about beings who discover a drug that allows them to traverse a fourth degree of freedom. This makes them essentially Gods, as they can traverse three-dimentioanl space much faster, manipulate matter, and change their own physicality. Out of the scientific fields of all of these works, this is perhaps the least innovative at its core, but the way in which the science is employed is a certain innovative breath of fresh air. Furthermore the (not exactly uncommon) suggestion that more degrees of freedom exists which humans do not have access to, provides an interesting point of reference with which to observe modern actual science.