CAN SCIENCE FICTION SAVE THE WORLD? | Daily Listening | English Subtitle

source: Daily Listening    2016年9月5日
What will the future be like? Good or bad? Positive or negative? A lot of science-fiction writing imagines a world which is dark and scary. But does it have to be like this? Rob and Finn discuss a project where science-fiction writers try to inspire people with optimistic stories, and teach you some language about the future.

0:05 Hello Finn – are you well?
0:06 Very well, thanks.
0:07 Rob, tell me – do you have a favourite science-fiction movie?
0:12 Ahh, science fiction – stories about an imagined future … well my favourite was
0:18 and always will be ET: Extra Terrestrial, and you Finn?
0:25 Mine would probably be Blade Runner – the movie with Harrison Ford set in a dark, scary
0:32 Los Angeles where he hunts robots called replicants.
0:36 You know the one?
0:37 I do – and come to think of it, lots of movies and stories about the future are quite
0:42 dark and negative … But perhaps this might change.
0:48 A new project wants to use the power of science fiction to do something very different: to
0:55 inspire people to create a better future.
0:58 It sounds very grand.
0:59 We'll be discussing the project and learning some language to talk about the future in
1:03 this programme.
1:04 But before we get too far into the future, I'm sure you have a question for me, Finn?
1:09 Yes indeed.
1:10 It's about the film Blade Runner.
1:13 It's set in the future – but in which year?
1:17 a) 2000 b) 2019
1:21 c) 2056 I think I'm gonna go for the far future, c)
1:29 2056.
1:31 Well I'll tell you if you're right or wrong later in the not-too-distant future.
1:37 Very good.
1:38 So, as we were saying: lots of science fiction is negative.
1:41 Yes, there's a word to describe the kind of future world which often appears in science
1:48 fiction: dystopian.
1:51 The noun 'dystopia' means an imagined place where things are unpleasant or bad.
1:57 The opposite is utopia and utopian.
2:01 But why is so much science fiction dystopian?
2:05 Dr Braden Allenby from Arizona State University.
2:08 The downside of both of science fiction and movies is that they tend to be dystopian,
2:15 they tend to be very negative, they tend to be very noir.
2:19 Dystopian is easier to do.
2:20 It's easier to write a dystopian story than it is to write an optimistic story.
2:25 He says dystopian stories are easier to write.
2:28 I can see that – there's more conflict in a world which has problems – and good stories
2:33 often have a lot of conflict and problems to resolve.
2:36 Yes, but Braden thinks being negative is the downside of science fiction.
2:42 A downside is a disadvantage, a bad point.
2:47 He would prefer to see more optimistic science fiction.
2:51 Optimistic, more positive about the future, which is why Braden is taking part in something
2:57 called Project Hieroglyph.
2:59 It brings together writers, scientists, engineers and artists to create optimistic stories about
3:05 things which really could happen in the next 50 years.
3:09 So let's talk about the kinds of things are happening in these stories?
3:14 Well, there's one about a huge tower 20 km tall – going all the way into space.
3:20 Apparently, building the tower is good for the US steel industry … and they invent
3:25 a new kind of energy in the story too.
3:28 Sounds very interesting – but is it plausible – could it really happen?
3:33 Could they really build a tower that big?
3:35 Well, there's another about environmentalists who fight to stop people building the first
3:40 hotel in Antarctica.
3:43 Environmentalists – people who care about the environment.
3:46 Well there's conflict there … and it's plausible, so it could be a good story.
3:52 But I can't help thinking – will these stories actually change anything?
3:57 Ed Finn, who edited a book of these stories, thinks so.
4:00 He says: "A good science-fiction story can be very powerful".
4:04 "It can inspire hundreds, thousands, millions of people to rally around something that they
4:10 want to do."
4:12 To rally around something means to come together in support of a cause.
4:17 And Braden Allenby says you can already see the influence of science fiction in modern
4:22 research.
4:23 Which item is being worked on right now?
4:26 "Why are people working on, for example, invisibility cloaks?
4:30 Well, it's Harry Potter, right?
4:33 That's where they saw it."
4:34 An invisibility cloak – a long coat which makes you invisible, in other words unable
4:41 to be seen – which people first saw in one of the Harry Potter movies.
4:45 Interesting … so will the stories from Project Hieroglyph inspire people to do and invent
4:51 new things that can help others?
4:53 Can they help create a bright future – that's a good, positive future?
4:57 Or will they just be good stories?
5:00 Time will tell – that means we'll find out as time goes by.
5:04 One thing that we're going to find out right now is the answer to when the movie Blade
5:09 Runner was set?
5:10 I said the answer was c) 2056.
5:13 And the answer was in fact b) 2019.
5:18 A little bit earlier, Rob.
5:21 Quite soon, then?
5:22 Yes, it's in a couple of years.
5:23 So, watch out LA.
5:25 But, Rob, can you remind us of some of the words we learned today?
5:30 We had … science fiction
5:34 dystopian, downside
5:38 optimistic, plausible
5:42 a bright future, time will tell
5:48 And that's it for today's programme.
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