Everyone loves Arthur C. Clarke’s wonderful aphorism that “any sufficiently evolved technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s such a good description of how science, and its application—technology—can be so grossly misunderstood and reduced, while simultaneously be awe-inspiring. Hell, Natalie Portman even quoted the line in Thor.
But what about the cousin of science and technology: science fiction? Can we handily attach a pithy, Arthur C. Clarke-style aphorism to SF, too? Well, after viewing the first episode of The Real History of Science Fiction, the new serial documentary from the BBC this weekend, I think we can. But it’s not pretty. Ready? Here it is: Any sufficiently popularized science fiction can be made indistinguishable from bullshit.