Men have walked on the Moon. Siri and Alexa manage—at least often enough to be helpful—to make sense of the things we say. Biologists have decoded DNA, and doctors have begun to tailor treatments to suit our individual genetic make-ups. In short: science and tech happen.
But faster-than-light travel? Time travel? Telepathy? A six million dollar—as adjusted, of course, for inflation—man? Starfaring aliens? Super-intelligent computers? Those, surely, are mere fodder for storytelling. Or wild extrapolations. Just so many "sci fi" tropes.
Sometimes, yes. But not necessarily.
In Trope-ing the Light Fantastic, physicist, computer engineer, science popularizer, and award-winning science-fiction author Edward M. Lerner entertainingly examines these and many other SF tropes. The science behind the fiction.
Each chapter, along with its eminently accessible scientific discussion, surveys science-fiction—foundational and modern, in short and long written form, on TV and the big screen—that illustrates a particular trope. The good, the bad, and occasionally the cringe-worthy. All imparted with wit (and ample references to learn more).
So forget what the Wizard of Oz advised. Let's pull back the curtain…