Fellow Science Fiction writers and lovers, welcome! The Mad Invention Series would like to keep you up to date with some of the most interesting gadgets of our times as a way of informing you on what we have already, what we are about to reach, and what we are still very far away from, in the world of technology.
Scientists and writers are a mixture of geniuses, magicians, madmen, mystics and visionaries and not necessarily in that order; yet it is also thanks to science-inspired writers and literature-inspired scientists that technology has evolved or at least entertained the possibility of building something awesome.
A favourite example of this is the Russian scientist Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky who, at the end of the 19th century, designed closed-cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies. In the 70s, inspired by the Apollo missions, physicist and space activist Gerard K O’Neill took this further and began to look into human settlement in space, creating the O’Neill Cylinder. His award-winning book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space is still highly influential today. Remember the end section of Interstellar? Not your typical spaceship interior for sure.
Now, a worldship is more of a “concept” so I’m not going to discuss it in this series, but if you are interested I would recommend you look up The Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS) and The British Interplanetary Society.
One of the reasons why as a child I was so captivated by science fiction books and TV series, was the joy of being introduced to technological gadgets and innovations. Star Trek led the field, showing us a plethora of handy hand-held devices to resolve all sorts of problems – to me it was a test to see if I could come up with one before a Vulcan could.
Years later, as a Young Adult SF writer, I continue to take up that challenge with my Tijaran Tales series, but with the added realisation of how fast a pace technological discoveries are moving at. Still, when I meet my young readers in the public libraries and ask them to invent “Tomorrow’s Gadget Today” I find myself pleasantly surprised by their ingenuity – and sometimes downright shocked!
I’ve had devices proposed that do your homework; chairs with feet so you don’t have to walk; remote controls to direct your siblings to do chores for you (or just kill your siblings when they bother you) or zap people into a different dimension; multi-functional watches, tablets, pens; screens sprouting out from all sorts of bodily areas; normal robots, talking robots, talking robotic dogs, cats, pigs; and as many microchips as you can handle inside a human being.
A common characteristics of most of these entries is that they remove the need for a human to do practically anything! It’s almost as if in the future of their minds, humans are striving to do as little as possible, replacing human slaves with robotic ones. It is rather funny, actually, and sad, because we are not that far off it, but it does make me think of Wall-e and the state of the humans in that film’s future. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that technology is paving our highway to lazy-hell at all; however, it does bring more moral dilemmas than we have ever had to care for.
But that is a whole different conversation. Keep an eye out for the writing section – I’ll be back.