Which SF authors will inspire new scientists, like Isaac Asimov did?

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
12,165
Location
Iowa
Today I was listening to "The Indicator" podcast and the topic introduced two economists who were inspired to go into economics because they had loved Foundation and wanted to use Math to change the world. At the end of the podcast the hosts said that they wondered who of the new generation of SF authors would inspire people into science. Now, I'm at least fairly knowledgeable about SF authors and read a lot of "new" authors, but I couldn't think of any of the "younger" generation of authors who really made science the focus of their books in the way that Asimov often did. Alastair Reynolds was the best answer I could come up with, but I wouldn't begin to put him in the same league as Asimov, certainly not in terms of accessibility. I find him to obtuse often with aggravating plots and characters, see Pushing Ice. For accessibility I'd have to go with someone like Orson Scott Card but most of his stuff especially his later stuff has not been science forward. Outside of Ender's Game I think science plays a very small, almost micro, role in the story.

Who would you nominate and why?


*Indicator Podcast
 
My first thought would be that as we have still not achieved the things that writers such as Clarke and Asmiov envisaged and as (to my knowledge) there are no authors who have surpassed their work, it will probably be the classics that inspire the scientists of tomorrow. Either that or Futurama.
 
My first thought would be that as we have still not achieved the things that writers such as Clarke and Asmiov envisaged and as (to my knowledge) there are no authors who have surpassed their work, it will probably be the classics that inspire the scientists of tomorrow. Either that or Futurama.
That's two of us who don't see an obvious successor.
 
Maybe Nnedi Okorafor? Her protagonists are not usually scientists per se, but intellectually curious explorers of a world full of realistic-seeming technological advances and gadgets.
 
Interesting choice! The little I know of her books I would have put her in the Fantasy camp. But I just checked out her page and there are certainly SF choices there. I've ordered Binti and will see what I think!
 
In a truly meta moment, later on Thursday, a different Z League bot going under the name "Ashley Beam" picked up on a thread about AI-generated content scraping and wrote an automated article about that as well, titled "World of Warcraft (WoW) Players React to AI-Generated Content on Popular Gaming Sites."

 
These days the entrepreneurs surpass the SF writers with their own ridiculous fantasies. Whether its Elizabeth Holmes pretending she can do hundreds of tests on a single drop of blood, or Musk pretending he is going to upgrade your car to be a "robotaxi" or make a "Mars City" for you to live in. Or any number of AI gurus pretending their projects could take over the world, just to get some fawning attention from the media. The line between SF and reality has been blurred almost to non-existence, helped on by the public's extreme ignorance of actual science.
 
doh, my last post is in the wrong thread....should have been in the AI thread. That's what I get when I post pre-coffee.
 
Maybe Nnedi Okorafor?
I've read Binti which I'd guess is her most famous novel. (If you call a book with 96 pages a novel.) I found it interesting, but not gripping. She does seem to have a knack for coming up with interesting and mysterious gadgets, but there's not much real science visible in any of it.
 
Given how many scientists were inspired by Star Trek, I don't think the science has to be there as much as the wonder.

I think an argument could be made that Iain Banks' technologic utopia could inspire people to want to change the world for the better with an actual pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Closer to now, Kim Stanley Robinson's books are inspiring and are actually about how we get there. To a lesser extent, Andy Weir. Neal Stephenson books are often about a dark future, but Diamond Age alone could be a great inspiration for building a better world. He always writes about people doing interesting things with math and tech. Anathema is a celebration of the philosophy of science. The extremely dark books of Peter Watts are full of amazing near future science elements that would prod a curious mind.

I don't feel extremely well read of late, but most of the stuff I've liked I don't think have much science in them. Murderbot, Three Body, etc.

Reynolds, like Banks, actually sketches out a future the way Asimov and Herbert did - far flung, new ways of existing, governing, doing business and getting around. A page turner that puts one in a vital and fascinating future is what SF inspiration is all about.
 

Back
Top