Course Instructor: Michael McCracken
Due to the amazing research and imaginative efforts of their authors, many works of science fiction have reached beyond the boundaries of entertainment and literature to become scientific prediction. Truly inspired science fiction works have imagined technologies such as space travel, the Internet, social video gaming, and genetic engineering well before they were achieved by science. In some works, the accuracy of these predictions is staggering. In others, imagined technologies are beyond our current capabilities or perhaps just not scientifically plausible. In this course, we will examine a host of fictional works and the science and technology that they employ. Beginning with two early works of modern science fiction, we will investigate correlations between Wells' The Time Machine (1895) and Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865). We will investigate effective versus unnecessary uses of technology in fiction by comparing popular media such as the Star Wars (c. 1977) and Back to the Future (c. 1985) film series. We will compare recent advancements in nano- and bio-engineering to the super-human capabilities described in typical superhero mythologies and William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984). We will also explore correlations between modern technologies and those envisioned by films such as Gattaca (1997) (a startling example of futuristic genetic profiling) and Children of Men (2006) (the end of human fertility in the not-so-distant future). The course will culminate in an in-depth analysis of the ingenious use of several technologies in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game (1985), including modern computing, video gaming, communications, and global politics.