[SIGCIS-Members] Literature on the place of science fiction (and its fandom) in the history of technology

Stephen Cass stephen.cass at gmail.com
Fri Aug 17 09:35:12 PDT 2018

I hate to toot my own horn, but the second volume in the "Hollyweird
Science" series I've been co-authoring may be of interest to you: it
focuses more on technology than the first volume, with chapters on
computers and AI and while the main interest is in how science and
technology turns up on screen, that happens in the context of feedback loop
between scientists and engineers. (at the very least, it should help you
identify some of the most conceptually influential screen sci fi for later

You might also be interested in reading the long-form interview with Neal
Stephenson, based on a stage Q&A with Jason Pontin at MIT, that appears in
the 2013 edition of "Twelve Tomorrows" where he mentions the "magnetic
field" concept of the role of science fiction, i.e. an invisible force that
aligns engineers towards particular visions -- if you can't find a copy of
the interview, I can send one, as I edited that issue.



For other titles NOT written or edited by me :)  -- I've found that often
the best source for tracing the fiction-to-reality side is biographies of
scientists and technologists. For example, Strange Angel by George Pendle
details the close relationship between JPL co-founder Jack Parson and the
California science fiction scene (leading to L. Ron Hubbard moving into his
home and all kinds of subsequent shenanigans). In iWoz, Steve Wozniak
writes how Tom Swift was his literary hero. I haven't read one, but I'm
sure that any biography of Minsky would include the seminal impact of
reading Asimov's "Runaround" (and how Minsky pretty much never bothered to
read anything in the fiction domain that wasn't sci-fi for the rest of his
life), and any bio of Goddard would mention how was influenced by (now
obscure) unauthorized sequel  to War of the Worlds, "Edison's Conquest of
Mars" written by astronomy writer George Servis and serialized in The
Boston Post.

On Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 11:48 AM David C. Brock <dcb at dcbrock.net> wrote:

> Dear All,
> I would be very grateful to learn of your favorite pieces that you’ve read
> on this topic: the place, role, and function of science fiction and science
> fiction fandom in the history of technology, and especially the history of
> computing. I’m wholly ignorant about it, bibliographically.
> Thanks as ever,
> David
> +++++++++++++++
> David C. Brock
> dcb at dcbrock.net
> 40 Russell Street, Greenfield, MA 01301
> Mobile: 413-522-3578
> Skype: dcbrock
> Twitter: @dcbrock
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