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Isaac Asimov: Prophet?

Nina, a.k.a. The Alien Next Door, has an interesting post today on Isaac Asimov and al-Qaida. Did bin Laden model his efforts off of Asimov’s Foundation series? That is something you will have to figure out for yourself. As Nina mentions, sometimes life imitates art.

The examples she mentions are of individuals that have been inspired by certain books. But, there have been other cases where an author has written about events eerily similar to events that later occurred in real life, where no individual can be said to have been moved by the novel to take certain actions.

In 1898, Morgan Robertson’s novel Futility was published. Reportedly, he had trouble finding a publisher because editors found his story unrealistic. They thought the plot was surely something that could never happen.

The story? A British ocean liner, Titan, ran into ice and promptly capsized, killing most of the passengers aboard.

Fourteen years later, well, I’m sure you know the story of the British ocean liner, Titanic

The events of Futility and the real story of the Titanic are similar, yet have their differences.

Prophecy or coincidence? Perhaps a little of both?

Perhaps, more recently, people may remember The Lone Gunmen series that was a spin-off of The X-Files. The pilot episode aired in March 2001. In it, a secret U.S. government agency plans to crash a plane into the World Trade Center and blame the attack on a foreign dictator in an effort to increase the military budget. The origin of conspiracy theories? Or prophecy for those who believe in the conspiracy theories?

Of course, what is frequently overlooked in the prophecy versus coincidence debate is the fact that countless books and short stories are published each year, as well as numerous films, tv shows and other fictional works. It is only those which end up reflecting real life events that we examine for “signs and portents.” We tend to forget about all those countless others that failed to hit the mark.

Prophecy? Or is it just a case of thousands of monkeys pounding away at their keyboards for numerous years finally, and randomly, producing works which mirror real life?

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4 Comments »

Comment by SF Girl
2007-12-11 04:08:33

Hmmm…I like your take on this interesting phenomenon of prophesy vs coincidence…How much of this is related to the phenomenon known as “multiple independent discoveries”?… MID describes when scientists, “visionaries” or authors in the same society arrive at the same innovation or major thought independently of each other at approximately the same time. Sociologists argue that this is a function of either social context or to the qualities of the individuals making the discovery or innovation. In other words…. the time was right for it to happen or be made or written… A kind of gestalt tapping into a giant consciousness

 
Comment by Jon
2007-12-11 13:49:38

It’s always the monkeys.

 
2007-12-16 17:10:18

[...] Independent Discoveries. Notice how Nina a.k.a. The Alien Next Door responds to my post responding to her post? Jon even got a mention for his part. But note how she uses an example from [...]

 
2008-02-16 23:52:44

[...] Apparently, that was enough, in Google’s eyes, to make me an authority for the search phrase “Isaac Asimov prophecies.” [...]

 
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