Since its emergence in the seventeenthcentury, science fiction
has been a sustained, coherent and subversive check on the promises and
pitfalls of science. In their turn, invention and discovery have forced
fiction writers to confront the nature and limits of reality. Different Engines explores how this fascinating symbiosis shapes what we see, do, and dream.
From Johannes Kepler's Somnium to Arthur C. Clarke's 2001,
science fiction has emerged as a mode of thinking, complementary to the
scientific method. Science fiction's field of interest is the gap
between the new worlds uncovered by experimentation and exploration,
and the fantastic worlds of the imagination. Its proponents find drama
in the tension between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Its readers,
many of them scientists and politicians, find inspiration in the
contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Brake and Hook's Different Engines is a unique, provocative and compelling account of science fiction as the arbiter of progress.