The Future of Scientifiction
The outstanding characteristics of every period in human history have been reflected in the literature of that period. Fiction, especially, is more free to concern itself with the everyday life of the common man, than is any other form of literature. In ancient times the hero of the common man was the warrior and the orator, and the epic poem, which is the fictional type of the ancients, contains nothing but war and oratory—unless it be love, which is common to all ages. The fiction of the Middle Ages is distinguished by religion and chivalry; that of early modern times, when men broke out of their narrow corner in Europe and explored the world, is distinguished by adventure and romance. In recent fiction, what do we find as the preponderating element? Industrialism, politics, finance. What men do in real life, they do in books.
Science in fiction is not new. I saw an account of a trip to the moon by one Cyrano de Bergerac, written in the sixteenth century. There must be older examples. But, stories of that type, like Mrs. Shelley’s Frankenstein, were few and far between; and certainly found a limited reading public.
Few men know or care anything about science. The average reader is not a student; he reads the familiar things that come easy.
It is only in recent years that Science has begun to invade the everyday life of the everyday man. Up to yesterday, science was a thing set apart; it dwelt in the sacred laboratories, which none but the initiated few might enter. Who wanted to write about it? Still less did anyone want to read about it? Today, science does for the common man in