Letter:Future people

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The Independent Online
From Dr Mark Johnson

Sir: Gill Alderman (letter, 14 February) is right to correct the impression that authors of sci-fi have failed to populate their fantasies with the multi-ethnic descendants of the present. In fact, most of the better science fiction authors have made at least as intelligent projections of the social fabric of the world as they have been predictors of technological change.

I recently read Arthur Clark's Gardens of Ramal, in which the narrator's ability to draw upon cultural and genetic roots in Europe and Africa is a critical part of her story. Similarly, the different Terra-formed worlds of the Asimov Foundation series are populated by descendants of recognisable ethnic groups, thereby providing an intellectual puzzle for the principal characters. I also recall another tale where the space captain hero retires to his home village in India where at last he can "understand the real meaning of infinity".

Given that scientific change has moved faster than improvements in social conditions, it may be no surprise to learn that Martin Luther King was a "Trekkie" (Outside Edge, 10 February).

Yours sincerely,

MARK R.D. JOHNSON

Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations

University of Warwick

Coventry

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