Cargo Cult Science Fiction

There’s too much Cargo Cult Science Fiction.

 The term “Cargo Cult Science” was first used by physicist Richard Feynman in 1974. It focuses on the superficial rather than the underlying causes.

Cargo Cult Science Fiction is SF built on Cargo Cult Science.  

Now don’t get me wrong. Cargo Cult SF isn’t SF based on imaginary ideas. Some of the great SF novels contain no real science (a classic example is The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester).

Cargo Cult SF is SF that doesn’t take the science seriously.  In Cargo Cult SF it’s good enough to say something scientific sounding (quantum carburetor anyone?) without exploring the imaginary science further.

In Cargo Cult SF the hero gains superpowers by being bitten by a radioactive vampire bat and no one else in the story thinks to experiment with radioactive tigers, jellyfish or wombats.

In Cargo Cult SF people use time travel to change past events and no one ever thinks to use time travel to change them back again.

In Cargo Cult SF Gaia steps in to save the USA and no one asks what exactly had she been doing when people died in floods and famines in other parts of the world.

If you don’t follow the science, no matter how wild your idea is, you’re not writing SF.

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