Brian Clegg‘s book Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future is a book I’ve referenced twice before in blog entries. Once it was referred to in a passing reference and once it was mentioned by name. I think it’s long overdue a proper entry of its own.
As mentioned previously, I encountered this book resulting from a library search for the science behind science fiction. Only a few hundred pages into the book, I realized this book was a must own for my personal reference library for scifi storytelling. I immediately rushed out and purchased my own copy that day.
This is not a comprehensive look at scifi science, or even scifi storytelling. This would require a much bigger book, or would even require this book to merely be volume 1 of a series of books, to accomplish that.
What Clegg does instead is focus on some of the bigger usual suspects of scifi tech. Using examples that range from golden age scifi books, to movies, to tv shows, to contemporary books, not only does he present what might work and what cannot work because of science and physics, he also digs into the science as it stands today.
He often points out how new information and new observations in science have made some things thought possible in the past impossible, and some things thought impossible in the past possible. A prime example of this comes when he digs into Jurassic Park, both the book and the movie, and explains why a dino park isn’t on our future horizon while a mammoth park might still be a possibility.
Ultimately, Clegg offers that sometimes it’s okay, and even a little necessary, for a storyteller to cheat to tell the story. I honestly believe anyone who writes, reads, or has an interest in scifi should pick up this book, especially if you’re interested in getting the science parts of your scifi correct.