We often speak of science fiction moving across mediums– Ender’s Game starting as a book and getting turned into a movie, Battlestar Galactica starting on TV and getting turned into books, Kryptonite leaping from the Superman radio show to the comics, and so on. All well and good and noble, but that’s just story interpretation, it’s not the stuff that surprises me.
My favorite adaptations of science fiction are when it invades reality.
Of course there are times when something we create in science fiction comes true, how communicators and tricorders become iPhones and iPads. For science fiction writers, it gets even weirder when something we make up happens, when it turns out we were predicting the future. My first Star Trek story, Star Trek: Oaths (Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers), solved the problem of a planet-wide plague by rewriting the genetic code of the planet’s population to make them resistant. Twelve years later, we have this:
Scientists from Yale and Harvard have recoded the entire genome of an organism and improved a bacterium’s ability to resist viruses, a dramatic demonstration of the potential of rewriting an organism’s genetic code.
That just blows my mind. But in many ways, that’s just the way of progress, science moving forward, time marches on.
My favorite stuff is when science fiction comes right at you in ways you never expect. For example, fifteen years ago this month, I got this in my email, and if you had an email address then you probably got it too:
“Pssssst. This is a secret. When John Glenn returns from space, everybody dress in Ape Suits. Pass it on.”
At the time, that was the fastest and widest spread joke on the Internet… and it was a Planet Of The Apes riff.
Nowadays, it goes even farther. You might be sitting down at the library and this happens to you:
Or you get on the subway:
Or you could just be sitting outside the offices of Tor Books waiting to meet an editor and a rupture in time happens:
This is what I love. That people are adding to the worlds that we love, enriching it, making mythology real, is the greatest compliment. And more and more people are doing it. The late Mars 2112 restaurant in New York and Adventurer’s Club in Downtown Disney, Flynn’s Arcade popping up at the San Diego Comic Con, the Jekyll & Hyde Club still going strong. At the very least, we follow the advice of the great philosopher Calvin, who said “I try to make everyone’s day a little more surreal.” At the very best, we make magic and inspire wonder.
So keep at it, you folks who are just trying to do something really cool. In fact, if you want to try it yourself, all you have to do is wander around telling people you’re the Doctor, and if you’re clever enough, you might get away with it.