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Thread: Isaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun" - very prescient

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    Isaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun" - very prescient

    In October to December 1956, Isaac Asimov wrote a science-fiction story, "The Naked Sun", serialized in Astounding Science Fiction, now Analog Science Fiction. He published it as a book the next year. He had introduced his detective duo, Elijah "Lije" Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw (R = Robot) in an earlier science-fiction mystery novel, "The Caves of Steel", and those two now have to solve a murder on the colony planet of Solaria.

    The Solarians live apart from each other in estates tended by armies of robots, only getting together to reproduce. They much prefer "viewing" each other with two-way TV than meeting each other in person. A review: Book Review: R. Is for Robot: The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov – KenyaBuzz LifeStyle - October 31, 2019

    So are we creating a real-life Solaria? Some people think so, and our technology has made it possible. Social distancing has made many of us live a Solarian-like existence.

    Isaac Asimov’s Take on Social Distancing – Golden Elm Publishing - March 9, 2020

    Solaria poses a puzzle for the detectives who have been invited in: its human inhabitants don't like to visit each other, and its robot ones are programmed with Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, meaning that they would avoid murdering anyone.

    Social distancing in the time of coronavirus reminded me of Solarians custom in 'The Naked Sun' : scifi - March 13, 2020

    A Book on Social Distancing - Daily Kos, March 24, 2020

    Are we seeing steps toward reality for a sci-fi scenario? – Orange County Register - April 3, 2020
    The planet’s rigidly controlled population of 20,000 is supported by 10,000 times that many robots, who do all the work. The few humans, virtually always isolated, communicate almost exclusively by hologram — their real-looking but ephemeral images projected across thousands of miles, a potential technology far more advanced than the so-called holograms used on some drivers licenses and credit cards today.

    Face-to-face communication, especially of the sort needed to reproduce, is seen as dirty stuff on Solaria, even if it’s occasionally unavoidable.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Present-day technology hasn't taken the exact form of the novel's technology - we have a big network of generalized data networks, and also small computing and communication devices that we can easily take with us. More generally, one can point out numerous things in science-fiction stories that did not turn out that way when the real world caught up with them.

    But is science fiction really about such technical details? Some science-fiction fans and writers argue that it's more about our reaction to them, more about traffic jams than cars. Isaac Asimov once wrote an essay about that: "Future? Tense!" He mentioned a 1941 story by Anson MacDonald, Robert Heinlein under a pseudonym, "Solution: Unsatisfactory". He pictured radioactive dust as a weapon, and a character in the story muses on what would happen if everybody got it. It would be hard to defend against, so every nation with it would be dependent on the goodwill of every other nation with it. But that is what happened with nuclear bombs. The technology was different, but the outcome was the same.

    IA wrote a story, "Sally", about self-driving cars where manual driving was outlawed as needlessly dangerous, something that was denounced as everything from Fascism to Communism. But it does raise a serious issue: if self-driving cars become common, then what will happen to manual driving?

    I myself have written a story which features mental telepathy. I don't get into how it works, but I've put a consequence of it in my story: loss of mental privacy.

    Sometimes a very weird SF idea has come to pass. In Star Trek Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon", the inhabitants of two planets fight a computerized fake war with each other, and they continue with it because they are afraid of starting a real war. But when I learned of what the US Senate's filibuster maneuver turned into, I thought of that. For most of its history, it was talking and talking and talking until either the other Senators gave in or else they had enough votes to stop it (cloture). But in recent decades, this has become Senators placing holds - threats to do the old-fashioned sort of filibuster. So it's a sort of fake filibuster done out of fear of a real filibuster.

    We had a thread about the nature of SF some time earlier: Prediction or influence? Sci-fi books that predicted the future

    As to what is science fiction, I once saw this: Writer's Guidelines - Contact Us | Analog Science Fiction
    We publish science fiction stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse. Try to picture Mary Shelley's Frankenstein without the science and you'll see what I mean. No story!

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