THE COSMIC DANCERS: Exploring the Physics of Science Fiction by Amit with Maggie Goswami Goswami

THE COSMIC DANCERS: Exploring the Physics of Science Fiction

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The Goswamis enthuse so agreeably and write so winningly that you don't have to be a science fiction buff or share their outrÉ beliefs (in the paranormal, etc.) to enjoy dipping into their book. They make it easy, in fact, since the four main parts--exploration of the solar system, star travel, hyperspace (and related concepts), mind-and-reality--are independent treatments of the four main themes, or ""paradigms,"" they see in sf literature. For each, the Goswamis (he's a physicist) present the historical/science background: the basic ideas that inspire fictional leaps of imagination and transcendence. So the least knowing reader gets a running course in physics or quantum mechanics or astronomy, liberally laced with anecdotes (true) and samples (fiction). The samples, moreover, often show how the writer exploits state-of-the-art thinking. In solar system studies, Mars and Venus were first thought to be habitable; now, space probes and exobiology studies make Jupiter and Saturn targets for life support. Other samples show how particular writers solve problems. When Asimov deals with telepathy, for example, he makes it scientific: ""With the lowering of brain cell resistance, the brain may be able to pick up the magnetic fields induced by the microcurrents of others' thoughts. . . ."" These engaging bits and pieces represent virtually every master of the genre, and some outsiders as well. The point is ambitious: to the Goswamis, sf is ""that class of fiction which contains the currents of change in science and society. . . . Its goal is to prompt a paradigm shift to a new view that will be more responsive and true to nature."" In their metaphor, science fiction is a dance between what is happening in science and what should be happening. Clearly, they think the time is ripe for a paradigm shift to paranormal acceptance and new models of mind. But, again, their beliefs needn't interfere with the pleasure of their presentation.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1983
Publisher: Harper & Row