Science fiction ideas

msstice

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Pretty sure there are tons of lists out there, just wanted to see what this group comes up with. Set in motion by some comments in the thread What happened to Ideas based Science Fiction?

I'm noting the idea, the earliest that I know of and the most recent that I know of. I'm not particularly well read anymore, so you all will be way better than I am.

A creation of man turns against him.
Earliest: Golems?
Latest: Pretty much any AI story

Man wants to fly (metaphor for forbidden power), gets comeuppance
Earliest: Daedalus
Latest: Gray goo stories? A lot of "creation turns against him" stories are also comeuppance stories

Man enters another's body
Earliest: Demonic possession - though this is reverse
Latest: Altered carbon

Man travels to mysterious world (real life)
Earliest: Sinbad stories, Hercules stories, any story where the hero has interaction with gods
Latest: Most space travel movies

Man enters mysterious world (dreamlike)
Earliest: Alice in Wonderland (we can do better)
Latest: Any VR story.

Man wakes from a living dream
Earliest: ??
Latest: Any VR story. Matrix. Free Guy is my current favorite, though this has a twist to it.

The rules/physics of the world change
Earliest: ??
Latest: Moonfall


(I'll come back and add more. I have to run now, but I wanted the party to get going).
 

AllanR

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Man wakes from a living dream
In The Tragedy of Man (1861) After Adam eats the apple and he and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, Lucifer puts Adam to sleep and, through a dream, shows Adam the history of Man (up to 6000 AD) .

Plato's cave could perhaps count too.
 
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Swank

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@msstice I would have thought those were plot types rather than ideas.

To me, an SF idea is Vernor Vinge's bobbles or the Tines, Gibson's cyberspace, everything in Dune, consciousness in Watt's stories, utopia or Orbitals in Banks'.
 

msstice

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@msstice I would have thought those were plot types rather than ideas.

To me, an SF idea is Vernor Vinge's bobbles or the Tines, Gibson's cyberspace, everything in Dune, consciousness in Watt's stories, utopia or Orbitals in Banks'.
I don't know what Bobbles, Tines, Utopia and Orbitals are so I can't tell what the origin would be but ...

Cyberspace: Man enters mysterious world (dreamlike)
Dune: The elements are based on Lawrence of Arabia. Spice = Oil, Sandworms fall in the class of giant monsters that are a staple of much fantasy

I don't know what "consciousness" means in context of Watt.
 

Swank

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I don't know what Bobbles, Tines, Utopia and Orbitals are so I can't tell what the origin would be but ...

Cyberspace: Man enters mysterious world (dreamlike)
Dune: The elements are based on Lawrence of Arabia. Spice = Oil, Sandworms fall in the class of giant monsters that are a staple of much fantasy

I don't know what "consciousness" means in context of Watt.
As I indicated in the other thread, it is not really germane to talk about the dearth of ideas in SF if you haven't been reading a lot of SF. There are ideas aplenty.

In this case, Lawrence is not an idea - it is a plot structure or theme. The ideas in Dune are breeding more effective people naturally , gene stored memories, technologies that lead to military stalemates like the Shield, prescience as a kind of calculation.

The list I gave are all big ideas that various well known authors have used in their most well known works. The Tines are sentient beings who only attain sapience when verbally forming a hive individual. Bobbles are time stopping devices. An Orbital is a spinning ring habitat exactly the right diameter to give a 24 hour day in one rotation at 1G to provide a natural day/night cycle. Peter Watts book Blindsight examines consciousness through a variety of counter examples using aliens and brain modifications.


You may be interested in talking about basic SF plot structures or themes, but I don't think those are the Big Ideas from other thread.
 

msstice

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These are great @Swank

breeding more effective people naturally - I can't think of this as an SF idea since this idea is so pervasive amongst humans: having successfully applied this to animals, humans also have tried to apply this to themselves for ever.

gene stored memories - originally called ancestral memory, and is found in myths

technologies that lead to military stalemates like the Shield - equally balanced armies with super weapons that cancel each other are found in Hindu myths

prescience as a kind of calculation - this is a variation on the oracle? Humans/things that have preternatural knowledge of the universe is pretty staple.

The Tines are sentient beings who only attain sapience when verbally forming a hive individual - hive minds are popular. I don't know the origins of this. If this was a 20th century invention after studies of social insects or whether this idea has been around longer.

Bobbles are time stopping devices - I first encountered altering time concepts in H.G. Wells, but I don't know if this has been around earlier.

An Orbital is a spinning ring habitat exactly the right diameter to give a 24 hour day - Yes, this is a very 20th invention because people didn't have a concept of freefall before space travel, but I wonder if someone jumped off a cliff into a river/sea/lake in antiquity and wondered about the feeling of weightlessness.

Blindsight examines consciousness through a variety of counter examples using aliens and brain modifications - I like this topic (I studied it a bit when I was in school) but paradoxically, things like this are the most well studied in antiquity as part of philosophy.
 

Abernovo

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Man travels to mysterious world (real life)
Earliest: Sinbad stories, Hercules stories, any story where the hero has interaction with gods
Latest: Most space travel movies
I'd argue the earliest we have is the Epic of Gilgamesh. At somewhere in the region of of 1500 - 2000 BCE.

It's been said, plenty of times before, that there are no completely new ideas, but the possible variations on a theme are endless. And, in a similar way, science shows us that reality is sometimes stranger than we can imagine, but also that patterns often reappear. Convergent evolution, and mosaic evolution, both demonstrate the latter.
 

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