Science fiction has its roots in the speculative fiction of the late 1800’s early 1900’s and via a pulp fiction gestation before and after the second world war it has emerged as an established literary genre meriting an exhibition at the British Library in 2011 ‘Out of this World: Science Fiction but not as you know it’. It can be used to create alternative scenarios that explore a wide range of issues of contemporary significance as well as describing possible futures some of which we might wish to avoid. As an accessible source of insight into the way technology and society might interact we believe it is second to none. Hence for us it has a key place as a teaching tool in design & technology both in developing perspective and critique and inspiring creativity.
Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross published in 2009 by Orbit. Stross is among my favourite SF authors and this book has his trademark dark humour. Set in a future where humans have engineered advanced robots to look after them – and then become so lazy that they slip into extinction, the story follows the adventures of one of these robots. This is a great exploration of what happens when ‘our’ machines try to sustain a human society that is bereft of humans.