David Pax


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my thoughts on science fiction


Just as many children explore vast imaginitive worlds, as a youth I was excited by the ideas of science fiction. Sometimes it was technology such as Arthur C Clarke, sometimes the vision of science and humanity that was shown in Star Trek, and sometimes the imagination of writers such as Kurt Vonnegut. The ideas in these stories inspired me to seek out a deeper understanding of the world around me, and led to work in engineering.

Art has never been far away, though, even as I worked in engineering and technology. I'd started composing stories even before I could write, stories my mother copied down as best she could. Through experience with theatre and poetry my horizons expanded, and new ideas and inspirations came to me. Experience in theatre put technology and art together, sharing ideas from each discipline.

Various jobs and roles as I worked in the world made ideas of economics and social justice become more important to me. Born at the time when humans first touched the moon and integrated circuits changed the ways we work, I saw that technology had not changed much of what made us human. Even as we achieved and still achieve technological feats, the basic principles of science have not permeated the structure of our societies. We might use electronic tools such as FMRIs to understand how our brains work, but still we are driven by the primitive emotions of our limbic system. Naming the source of our emotions has not made us immune to their power.

If we are to live in a technological world we must have stories that tell us how to live in it. Our primitive emotions will drive our behavior to some degree, but the ideas of science fiction can help us process those emotions in a constructive way, just as fairy tales and folk tales have for millenia. Science fiction can and should dare to create complex societal textures for us to imagine, because the society we live in is more varied and variable than the societies that have gone before us. The purpose of stories, to shape our interaction with the world, hasn't changed. The world has.

Diverse interests in art and literature, science and engineering, and human societal structure all contribute to my interest in science fiction. Now it is time to put all of those diverse interests together, to share ideas of how humans interact with technology. We have had agriculture for about fifteen thousand years, but have only lived most of our lives indoors for the past hundred years. Humanity is undergoing dramatic changes and science fiction writers have the opportunity to create the paths to the future.