Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark

Banned Books Week, a celebration of the freedom to read, ends September 28th. The theme this year is “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark.”  Organized in 1982, Banned Books Week is an annual event that highlights censorship and fights for our freedom of expression. Learn more here. The First to Ban Books People who ban books have been around for a very long time. The Chinese emperor Shih Huang Ti (259-210 BCE) assumed the throne when he was twelve or thirteen. He became the founder of the Qin dynasty and was the first emperor of a unified China. Tired of criticism from the scholars of the day, he ordered that “all the official histories, with the exception of the Memoirs of Qin, be all burnt” in 213 BCE. He changed the law, suppressed freedom of speech, banned books, and put to death anyone who defied the law. While it’s said he killed many philosophers, banning the books wasn’t as effective as he’d hoped. Like banned books today, banning those books gave them a certain reverence.  Who is Qualified to Ban Books No one is qualified to ban books. We all have belief systems, prejudices, and life experiences that influence what we like […]

Story Time Reviews “The Last Question”

If you like stories with a twist ending, you’ll like Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question.” Asimov’s short story first appeared in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly. The recording is 36:34 minutes in duration and the story is narrated by Leonard Nimoy The Story The story begins with, “The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light.” Two of Multivac’s attendants make a five-dollar bet over highballs. Multivac was a giant, self-adjusting and self-correcting computer. The men “fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued.” The computer had, for decades, designed the ships and plotted the trajectories that allowed Man to reach Mars and Venus. But Earth didn’t have enough resources to create the power needed for such trips. Multivac devised a way to use the sun and “all Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.” After seven days of public functions, Multivac’s attendants take a moment of peace with the bottle and the computer. One man expresses his delight that the Earth has free power forever. The second man argues that it’s won’t be […]

Quotes on Technology and Science Fiction

Is science fiction predictive? Does it lead to advances in technology? Read these quotes on technology and science fiction and see what you think. Progress “Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” ~Robert A. Heinlein Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out. ~Stephen Hawking New Technologies “Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.” J. G. Ballard, “Fictions of Every Kind” In science fiction, we dream. In order to colonize in space, to rebuild our cities, which are so far out of whack, to tackle any number of problems, we must imagine the future, including the new technologies that are required. ~Ray Bradbury, Playboy, 1996 “There’s more to research than just looking up facts. Eventually, you have to make subjective calls. If you’re writing a science fiction novel, there’s probably some speculative technology in it. You’ll have to decide how […]