Jess Nevins (ratmmjess) wrote,
Jess Nevins
ratmmjess

File this under "Papers I'll Never Write."

Which is a mental category I (like most other writers) have for ideas which intrigue me and could potentially be fruitful, but which I will never have the time to write. (Or put together for a presentation at ICFA).

From the North-China Herald, 18 November 1916, in which the author is describing the debut of the tank during World War One:

The land-ship--it heaves and rolls like a ship--sailed on into the village and made the way easy--or at any rate much easier for an assault with the bayonet. You may judge of its weight and power from the fact that it "charged" and brought to ruin a house loop-holed and occupied by the enemy. It sounds rather like "Frank Reade's" famous invention--a great steel car speeding across the wildest west demolishing cities and brushing away tribes of Indians like so many flies.

The "Frank Reade" referred to here is the Edisonade Frank Reade, Jr., who used a armored "landrover" in the story in question.

What's most of interest to me here is the article writer's use of a fictional sf creation to describe an actual piece of technology. I think there's probably an interesting and possibly enlightening paper to be written on the ways in which some science fiction writers and stories have shaped the popular ideas of science and technology by anticipating them, to the point where those writers and stories limit the development of those concepts, both linguistically and ontologically.

This paper idea's still mostly unformed--I'm only on my second cup of coffee after a mostly sleepless night watching over a child whose breathing was difficult, leaving me in a constant state of dread, waiting for that next breath--but I think I've got the kernel of something interesting. Without (for example) the Gibson/Sterling/Stephenson trio, who knows what form the Web might have taken? Without Star Wars, in what direction might Reagan's S.D.I. have gone? I realize that I'm grossly over-simplifying matters, but I think this is an idea which could fruitfully be investigated.

Enh. I'll never know, because I won't be writing that paper.

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