When Ridley Scott executive produces a cable series focusing on how the visionaries of science fiction helped pave the way for our actual future, you might expect episodes speculating on a world where chest-bursters and replicants run riot. Instead, PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION — debuting on the Science Channel on November 9 — looks into what such fertile minds as Mary Shelly, H.G. Wells, and Isaac Asimov got right and wrong in their predictions (although we’re crossing our fingers that a scheduled episode on Philip K. Dick will take a welcome turn towards the dark).
Participating in the series is Dr. Michio Kaku, who, in the series’ debut episode, will be exploring how the dreams (or nightmares) of Ms. Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein are coming true in today’s laboratories. I managed to wrangle a few minutes with the good doctor, and the conversation both put the lie to the prevalent contention that no one saw the Internet coming, and gives pause for thought to people who were hoping that recent discoveries at the CERN reactor could pave the way to faster-than-light travel.
Science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke died at 1:30am Wednesday morning in Sri Lanka. The prolific author won several Hugo and Nebula awards for his numerous books, which included both fiction and non-fiction, many of them promoting the future of space travel and exploration. His most famous titles include Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The last of these was an outgrowth of the 1968 film that Clarke co-wrote with producer-director Stanley Kubrick, inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel.” The novel was written in conjunction with the screenplay, which formed the basis for the most monumental and important science-fiction film in the history of the genre. Clarke went on to write several sequels, including 2010, 2061, and 3001: The Final Odyssey. The first of these was adapted into a movie by writer-director Peter Hyams. You can read a more detailed obituary, written by Ravi Nessman, here.