Popular Science

September 13, 2003

Space Elevators and Cyberpunk

An article in the newspaper this morning featured Space Elevators. Sounds far-fetched, but apparently nanotube technology is almost at a stage where it's feasable to make one of these things - a gigantic elevator into space. Reading it reminded me of Neal Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age, which is a great read about a time where nanotechnology is the norm. A girl is given a book which teaches her about herself, her society and how to overcome both. Totally egrossing.

Researching a little on that has made me aware of a partiality to CyberPunk as a genre. It started with Star Wars - Empire Strikes Back which was the first movie I ever saw. I left after 5 minutes because R2D2 is pretty scary to a 5 year old kid. Blade Runner is a slightly grittier, punkier film and a favourite of a generation. A kind of modern noir, it left me with a wanting for more which was not satisfied until recent years in films like Gattica and novels like Spares by Michael Marshall Smith (whoa, that one's a trip - mind bendingly horrific and compelling) and Jurrassic Park by Michael Crichton (in a more popularist vein).

So the future is dreamt in the head of novellists. The space elevator concept is a century old and was made popular by Arthur C Clarke in his novel The Fountains of Paradise (1979). Now they have an annual conference about it. If this is so and the heads of novellists such as Stephenson, Marshall-Smith and Crichton are anything to go by, we're in for a wild ride.

Posted by Ant at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)