Re: poly: Egan's Diaspora

From: CurtAdams <>
Date: Thu Mar 19 1998 - 12:23:35 PST

In a message dated 3/19/98 12:32:16 PM, wrote:

>The physics literature has very little regarding far-future scenarios
>either. SF authors draw on the usual literature to inform their own
>far-future scenarios. They should similarly draw on our vast
>understanding of social systems to make their future scenarios.
>Social scientists really do understand a lot of things about societies.

First of all, the subjects of "hard" sciences aren't changing much.
Escape velocity from Earth is essentially the same it was 9,000
years ago, but the nature of societies has changed radically.
Extrapolating that buckyballs will still have the same properties
in a few thousand years is quite reasonable; extrapolating political
systems and market arrangements is not. Many things quite critical
to our current society (republican government, national societies,
free press, stock markets, universal literacy, embassy diplomacy,
secular societies) were extremely rare or downright absent a mere 500 years

Second, social sciences are quite poor at making extrapolative
predictions. What's the effect on the relative preponderance
of dictatorial governments if average lifespan doubles? What's
the probability of a society maintaining current technological
levels or better with a population of 100 million for a period
of 2000 years? What happens to the cooperativeness of our social
behavior if we switch from sexual to asexual reproduction? These
are the kind of things you need for good "social science fiction".
If you know of any of this stuff, I'm eager to read it, and I'm
sure many SF writers would be most grateful to be informed of it.
Received on Thu Mar 19 20:24:44 1998

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