PAUL J. MCAULEY
All human cultures create stories which try to explain the origin of their world. The universal occurrence and vast diversity of myths suggest that making stories is a fundamental human activity.
There is a strand in Western thinking which claims that stories and art are unnecessary, for they are not "real" explanations of the world in the way that science and technology are real explanations. According to this Rationalistic philosophy, hunger for narration is a primitive reflex, while science exists in the pure realm of truth. Indeed, there is a strand of literary theory which insists that narrative fiction is crude, and that instead of telling a story, novels should concentrate on dissecting psychological states. That is, in producing models or hypotheses in a pseudo‐ scientific fashion which are testable by falsification according to their verisimilitude.
But scientific hypotheses are in themselves a kind of story— or a set of stories — that the scientific culture tells itself. There is the Big Bang story, the Quantum Mechanics story, and so on. And of course, the Creation of Life story, and the Cloning story.
Science Fiction (SF) makes stories not about the present world but about the possibilities that scientific discovery invokes. H. G. Wells, in his 1902 essay "The Discovery of the Future," suggested that it was possible to use fiction to explore histories which did not yet exist — which indeed might never exist. SF