We are already living in Isaac’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?
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
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)
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