Panology of Science Fiction: C

Cliodynamics (psychohistory)

Cliodynamics is a field of research that tries to apply scientific methods and mathematical models to the study of history and its patterns. It aims to explain and predict historical phenomena such as the rise and fall of empires, the cycles of war and peace, the dynamics of social movements, and the effects of cultural evolution. Cliodynamics is based on the idea that history is not random or chaotic, but follows certain laws and regularities that can be discovered and tested with data.

We are already living in Isaac Asimov‘s world. Big data already allow governments and corporations to make educated guesses at what’s coming around the corner. As this information age deepens, how will it change the way we live? Does big data ever get too big to predict anything?

Foundation, Isaac Asimov

This discipline is also available to writers. This blend of trends, mathematical modelling, history and sociology can open up a window into the future, turning anyone dedicated enough into a Nostradamus. 

Big History, Microhistory, Macrohistory; used as a major or minor plot device, how could any writer get it wrong?

The Prime Radiant, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series

The Technocore, Dan Simmons’s Hyperion Cantos

Universal Actuary, House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

see also Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History

Cybernetics (cyborgology)

Cybernetics, the interdisciplinary study of communication and control in living organisms and machines, has long fascinated both scientists and science fiction writers alike. In science fiction, cybernetics serves as a captivating concept that explores the symbiotic relationship between humans and technology. It often delves into the possibilities of enhancing human capabilities through the integration of cybernetic implants, neural interfaces, and artificial intelligence.

These narratives envision a future where humans seamlessly merge with machines, allowing for extraordinary feats of strength, cognition, and connectivity. From classic works like “Neuromancer” by William Gibson to modern shows like “Black Mirror,” science fiction often examines the ethical dilemmas, existential questions, and potential consequences of a world where cybernetics reign supreme.

Whether portraying utopian or dystopian scenarios, cybernetics in science fiction offers a captivating exploration of the boundaries between humanity and technology, blurring the lines between what is real and what is artificial.

Bionic Man

Let’s face it, we now have the technology. We can rebuild you. It’s rudimentary at the moment but scientists have proved it can be done. As more applications become possible it is hard to imagine any work of sci-fi without featuring some kind of cybernetics, cyborgs or bionics, especially if it’s already the norm in reality.

Cyberbrains, The Cybernetic Brains by Raymond F Jones’s 

Brainships, Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Series

Bionic limbs  Cyborg by Martin Caidin 

Rat Things,   Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Wetware, Arthur C. Clarke and Paul Preuss, Venus Prime series

Cyborg, Man Plus by Frederick Pohl  

Lobster, Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling

Cryonics (suspended animation)

Cryonics, the practice of preserving human bodies or brains at extremely low temperatures in the hopes of a future revival, has been a fascinating subject in both scientific and speculative realms. In science fiction, cryonics often serves as a means to explore the possibilities of extending human life beyond conventional limits. It presents a concept where individuals can be frozen and preserved, awaiting a time when advanced medical technology or societal advancements can bring them back to life.

Science fiction stories frequently depict a future where cryonics is a common practice, allowing characters to embark on interstellar journeys, traverse vast expanses of time, or awaken in radically transformed societies. These narratives raise thought-provoking questions about the nature of identity, the ethics of resurrection, and the implications of defying mortality.

Whether portrayed as a utopian opportunity for a second chance or as a cautionary tale about unforeseen consequences, cryonics in science fiction provides a rich backdrop for exploring the boundaries of human existence and the longing for immortality.


This is a contentious field. There is an existing industry around this type of thing. Has been for years. Now, no one has ever revived anyone, because… there is no actual technology that has been proven to work. But people a paying big bucks for a two-way ticket without the means for the return trip. And of course, business is catering for these people with technology based on assumptions, which are based on ideas developed by science fiction writers.

A rule I use in science fiction writing is, everything is possible in this cosmos, there is always a way. Maybe freezing body tissue isn’t the right path, maybe it’s something else. It’s a challenge, and that’s why this field makes the list.

Buck Rogers by radioactive gas, Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan

Frank Poole by deep space freeze, 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Benjamin Smith by cryonics, The First Immortal by James L. Halperin

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