G.P. I visit frequently the web site of Kathleen Ann Goonan (http://www.goonan.com), one of my favorite authors. I have just deleted the “SF” qualifier that I had written before “author”, because I believe that science fiction, as a literature, should be “reviewed and shelved with the rest of the books”. This is taken from the text, recently appeared as an essay on Kathleen’s site, of a talk she gave at the Library of Congress on “The Biological Century and the Future of Science Fiction"…
G.P., April 13, 2002
I visit frequently the web site of Kathleen Ann Goonan (http://www.goonan.com), one of my favorite authors. I have just deleted the "SF" qualifier that I had written before "author", because I believe that science fiction, as a literature, should be "reviewed and shelved with the rest of the books". This is taken from the text, recently appeared as an essay on Kathleen's site, of a talk she gave at the Library of Congress on "The Biological Century and the Future of Science Fiction".
I wish to recommend that you read the full text of the talk, and I take this opportunity to recommend that you also read all of Kathleen's works. She is one of the few authors on my "buy everything" list. Kathleen Goonan's style is very dense and textured: she is not the easiest author to read, and going rapidly through the pages to see what happens with the story does not work. Reading carefully, on the contrary, is rewarded by passages of great descriptive power and beauty. In this, she provides one of the best examples of the literary value of modern science fiction, one of the main themes of her essay. Three of her four major published novels (a fifth is in the making, read the essay for more details) give snapshots taken at different times of a world where nano and biotechnologies ("bionan") produce deep changes in humans and their habitat. Cultural and social changes, including some triggered by catastrophic failures, are explored in detail.
The science is sound and based on current research. Of course, there is a lot of informed guessing on how current research could develop and where such development might lead. And this is the second main theme of the essay: science inspired literature can, and should, guide and inspire scientific, technical and cultural development work ("But first, it had to be imagined"). The works of Sir Arthur C. Clarke and others have motivated many to choose careers in the hard sciences and, in Kathleen's words, "perhaps laid the groundwork for the space program". We can confidently look forward to more and more works of authors like Kathleen Ann Goonan, Greg Egan, Greg Bear, and others to motivate and inspire our generation and those to come.