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The Prescience of Science Fiction Authors

The Prescience of Science Fiction Authors
By David Sloma

In his 1981 novel “The Eyes of Darkness” Dean Koontz named the pandemic virus in his story “Wuhan-400” as it starts in Wuhan, China, the same place where the current COVID-19 virus was first found. That’s a pretty big coincidence! Did he know something was going to happen there in the future? If so, how?

Philip K. Dick (PKD for short) predicted “precrime” and coined the term in his 1956 story “The Minority Report” (which was the basis for the 2002 movie “Minority Report”) – now computer models are being used to determine where precrimes will be committed before they happen and assign resources to those areas. Does it ever feel like you’re living in a PKD story? (Also in the “The Minority Report” were the Pre-Cogs who had the ability to predict the future, as “living computers.”)

These authors display what is called prescience, which means foreknowledge of future events; in essence, being able to predict the future. If we look at the word “prescience” we can see it’s made of two other words: pre and science – a natural topic for science fiction writers! Some people scoff at such an ability to foretell the future, while many more pay for fortune-tellers to do this very thing for them, often with real results (and also with fantastic failures). Then there are those people who dream of things before they happen…How is this possible?

One thing is for sure and that is many so-called science fiction or “sci-fi” writers do just that: tell the future. Or maybe they are creating it. Or also, perhaps, they are tapping into some stream of consciousness that tells them the future and they write it down. Whatever the case, the results are impressive.

There’s a theory called “The Morphogenetic field” which talks about ideas contained in an energy field that can be tapped into. This is similar to the “collective unconscious” discussed by Carl Jung, Sigmund Frued, and others. Maybe some sci-fi authors were tapping into such a thing; maybe they were following trends and extrapolating; maybe both.

As a science fiction writer myself, I think it’s been a combination of these things. Sometimes the future trends of technology and society can be easily seen and they allow the imagination to fly; other times the ideas just come and where they come from could be from many sources, both mundane and Divine. I have had the experience of being surprised when something I’ve written comes true in the world, and I’m sure many more authors have had this experience too, not just the ones I’ve listed.

I’ve never quite considered science fiction stories to be purely fiction. It seems the world is quickly catching up to that notion.

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