I am planing a series of articles about trends in modern Science Fiction that I hope you will find interesting. I will try to describe the trend and then use examples from books and tv series as ‘evidence’.
Have you noticed that nanotechnology have replaced the atomic engine as the bread and butter technology of modern science fiction? In fiction we are talking of tiny machines that often are self replicating and can put atom on atom and build almost anything. Arthur C. Clarke might have been the first to describe nano machines in his short story The Next Tenants from 1956. It’s been portrayed as a threat to all life in different kind of grey goo scenarios, or as potentially biological threats like in Blood Music by Greg Bear where intelligent smaller beings ‘invade’. But the most common usage is as enhancers of technology like in shape shifting houses in a recently read book (can’t remember which one at the moment) or the smart metal in the Kris Longknife series by Mike Shepherd or flexible military crafts like in The Quiet War or Semper Human.
When it is not used for enhancing machines it is used to enhance humans, providing longevity, self repair, additional senses, communication, weapons. Here the examples are numerous Infoquake, Worldwired, Gravity Dreams, One Jump Ahead etc
There are also examples of large living swarms of nano machines that form equally wast intelligences but more about that when we talk about Singularities in a later part of this series.
There has also been numerous example of nanotechnology being used on television in shows like Star Trek where the Borgs used nano probes to assimilate and convert their victims like the lovely seven-of-nine, in Stargate SG-1 the Replicators is a self replicating menace that in the end defeats even the Asgards. There was also an episode in SG-1 were Colonel O’Neal was infected by a nanovirus that speed up his aging etc.
The question is how long nanotechnology is going to be science fiction? We already have nano material in every day appliances and clothing. Nanomaterials are being tested in an increasing range of treatments and drugs.
What do you think?
Source: Nanotechnology in Fiction