Monday, February 06, 2006


"This is not science fiction"

I should be used to seeing this sentiment expressed by people who should know better, considering how often I see it, but it still continues to amaze and irritate me.

Reuters is carrying a story today about a scientific illustrator named Lynette Cook. She's recently provided the illustrations for Dava Sobel's The Planets, and a glance at her website indicates she is not without talent (though from what I've seen, her work wouldn't be out of place among that of the better "amateur" artists in a WorldCon art show). But then she goes and says something like this, and immediately she's earned my antipathy.
"This is not science fiction," she said. "These planets are so far away we cannot look at them with a camera close up, so we can't have the assurance at this point of time that it's 100 percent accurate. And that's fun for me because I can use some imagination as long as it is scientifically plausible. It can't be too far-out or I can't do it."

So let me get this straight. This isn't science fiction. This is scientifically plausible, imaginative extrapolation. And science fiction is what, again?

Christ. If people who pursue science for a living can't get behind the idea of rational, plausible science fiction, what hope do we have of ever converting the countless Americans who believe that the world was created in seven days, six thousand years ago?

The full text of the article is here.

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