移动课堂
您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语四六级 > 备考指导 > 四级备考指导 > 正文

大学英语精读:第六册 UNIT 8

2007-03-02 16:10   来源:旺旺英语       我要纠错 | 打印 | 收藏 | | |

  Science fiction is definitely not pure science, but neither is it pure fiction. This literary genre, argues science fiction writer Ben Bova, stands as a bridge between science and fiction, between reason and emotion. Moreover, science fiction is not mere entertainment, but has a more important role to play. Believe it or not, it can help us to understand the ways in which our world may change and assist us in shaping the future in the manner that we wish.

THE ROLE OF SCIENCE FICTION

Ben Bova

  The year 1972 was marked by publication of a controversial book, The Limits to Growth, This study of the world's future, done by a team of MIT scientists with the aid of computer "models" of the future of our society, forecast a planet wide disaster unless humankind sharply limits its population growth and consumption of natural resources.

  Most people were caught by surprise when the book came out. Many refused to believe that disaster is possible, probable, inevitable —— if we don't change our mode of running Spaceship Earth. But science fiction people were neither surprised nor outraged. The study was really old news to them. They'd been making their own "models" of tomorrow and testing them all them all their lives.

  For what the scientists attempted with their computer model is very much like the thing that science fiction writers and readers have been doing for decades. Instead of using a computer to "model" a future world society, science fiction writers have used their human imaginations. This gives the writers some enormous advantages.

  One of the advantages is flexibility.

  Science fiction writers are not in the business of predicting the future. They do something much more important. They try to show the many possible future that lie open to us.

  For there is not simply a future, a time to come that's inevitable. Our future is built, bit by bit, minute by minute, by the actions of human beings. One vital role of science fiction is to show what kinds of future might result from certain kinds of human actions.

  To communicate the ideas, the fears and hopes, the shape and feel of all the infinite possible futures, science fiction writers lean heavily on another of their advantages: the art of fiction.

  For while a scientist's job has largely ended when he's reduced his data to tabular or graph from, the work of a science fiction writer is just beginning. His task is to convey the human story: the scientific basis for the possible future of his story is merely the background. Perhaps "merely" is too limiting a word. Much of science fiction consists of precious little except the background, the basic idea, the gimmick. But the best of science fiction, the stories that make a lasting impact on generations of readers, are stories about people. The people may be nonhuman. They may be robots or other types of machines. But they will be people, in the sense that human readers can feel for them, share their joys and sorrows, their dangers and their ultimate successes.

  The art of fiction has not changed much since prehistoric times. The formula for telling a powerful story has remained the same: create a strong character, a person of great strengths, capable of deep emotions and decisive action. Give him a weakness. Set him in conflict with another powerful character —— or perhaps with nature. Let his exterior conflict be the mirror of the protagonist's own interior conflict, the clash of his desires, his own strength against his own weakness. And there you have a story. Whether it's Abraham offering his only son to God, or Paris bringing ruin to Troy over a woman, or Hamlet and Claudius playing their deadly game, Faust seeking the world's knowledge and power —— the stories that stand out in the minds of the reader are those whose characters are unforgettable.

  To show other worlds, to describe possible future societies and the problems lurking ahead, is not enough. The writer of science fiction must show how these worlds and these futures affect human beings. And something much more important: he must show how human beings can and do literally create these future worlds. For our future is largely in our own hands. It doesn't come blindly rolling out of the heavens; it is the joint product of the actions of billions of human beings. This is a point that's easily forgotten in the rush of headlines and the hectic badgering of everyday life. But it's a point that science fiction makes constantly: the future belongs to us —— whatever it is. We make it, our actions shape tomorrow. We have the brains and guts to build paradise (or at least try). Tragedy is when we fail, and the greatest crime of all is when we fail even to try.

  Thus science fiction stands as a bridge between science and art, between the engineers of technology and the poets of humanity. Never has such a bridge been more desperately needed.

  Writing in the British journal New Scientist, the famed poet and historian Robert Graves said in 1972, "Technology is now warring openly against the crafts, and science covertly against poetry."

  What Graves is expressing is the fear that many people have: technology has already allowed machines to replace human muscle power; now it seems that machines such as electronic computers might replace human brainpower. And he goes even further, criticizing science on the grounds that truly human endeavours such as poetry have a power that scientists can't recognize.

  Apparently Graves sees scientists as a sober, plodding phalanx of soulless thinking machines, never making a step that hasn't been carefully thought out in advance.

  But as a historian, Graves should be aware that James Clerk Maxwell's brilliant insight about electromagnetism —— the guess that visible light is only one small slice of the spectrum of electromagnetic energy, a guess that forms the basis for electronics technology  —— was an intuitive leap into the unknown. Maxwell had precious little evidence to back up his guess. The evidence came later. The list of wild jumps of intuition made by these supposedly stolid, humorless scientists is long indeed.

  Scientists are human beings! They are just as human, intuitive, and emotional as anyone else. But most people don't realize this. They don't know scientists, any more than they know much about science.

  Today most people still tend to hold scientists in awe. After all, scientists have brought us nuclear weapons, modern medicines, space flight, and underarm deodorants. Yet at the same time, we see scientists derided as fuzzy-brained eggheads or as coldly ruthless, emotionless makers of monsters. Scientists are minority group, and like most minorities they're largely hidden from the public's sight, tucked away in ghettos —— laboratories, campuses, field sites out in the desert or on Pacific atolls.

  Before the public can understand and appreciate what science can and cannot do, the people must get to see and understand the scientists themselves. Get to know their work, their aims, their dreams, and their fears.

  Science fiction can help to explain what science and scientists are all about to the non-scientists. It is no accident that several hundred universities and public schools are now offering science fiction courses and discovering that these classes are a meeting ground for the scientist-engineers and the humanists. Science and fiction. Reason and emotion.

  The essence of the scientific attitude is that the human mind can succeed in understanding the universe. By taking thought, men can move mountains —— and have. In this sense, science is an utterly humanistic pursuit, the glorification of human intellect over the puzzling, chaotic, and often frightening darkness of ignorance.

  Much of science fiction celebrates this spirit. Very few science fiction stories picture humanity as a passive species, allowing the tidal forces of nature to flow unperturbed. The heroes of science fiction stories —— the gods of the new mythology —— struggle manfully against the darkness, whether it's geological doom for the whole planet or the evil of grasping politicians. They may not always win. But they always try.

  Perhaps, however, the most important aspect of science fiction's role in the modern world is best summed up in a single word: change.

  After all, science fiction is the literature of change. Each and every story preaches from the same gospel: tomorrow will be different from today, violently different perhaps.

  Science fiction very clearly shows that changes —— whether good or bad —— are an inherent part of the universe. Resistance to change is an archaic, and nowadays dangerous, habit of thought. The world will change. It is changing constantly. Humanity's most fruitful course of action is to determine how to shape these changes, how to influence them and produce an environment where the changes that occur are those we want.

  Perhaps this is the ultimate role of science fiction: to act as an interpreter of science to humanity. This is a two-edged weapon, of course. It is necessary to warn as well as evangelize. Science can kill as well as create; technology can deaden the human spirit or life it to the farthermost corners of our imaginations. Only knowledgeable people can wisely decide how to use science and technology for humankind's benefit. In the end, this is the ultimate role of all art: to show ourselves to ourselves, to help us to understand our own humanity.

  New Words

  genre

  n.  a particular type of art, writing, music, etc., which has certain characteristics that all examples of this type share(文艺作品的)体裁,样式;类型

  controversial

  a.  causing much argument or disagreement

  forecast

  vt. say what will happen ahead of time; predict

  planetwide

  a.  extending all over the planet

  humankind

  n.  human being in general; mankind

  probable

  a.  likely to happen or be true

  inevitable

  a.  which can not be avoided; certain to happen

  mode

  n.  a way of behaving, living, operating, etc.

  spaceship

  n.  a vehicle used for traveling in outerspace; spacecraft

  flexibility

  n.  flexible quality

  flexible

  a.  easily adapted to fit various conditions

  tabular

  a.  arranged in the form of a table

  gimmick

  n.  an ingenious or novel mechanical device 别致的玩意儿;新奇的发明

  robot

  n.  a machine that can move and do some of the work of a human being and is usu. controlled by a computer 机器人

  sorrow

  n.  sadness, grief

  prehistoric

  a.  of a time before events were written down

  formula

  n.  a fixed way of doing sth.; method 公式,程式

  decisive

  a.  showing or marked by determination and firmness

  exterior

  a.  on the outside; outer

  n.  an outer part, surface or appearance

  clash

  n.  a strong disagreement; conflict

  lurk

  vi. wait in hiding. esp. for an evil purpose; exist unseen

  joint

  a.  done or shared by two or more people

  headline

  n.  a line usu. printed in large type at the top of a newspaper article

  hectic

  a.  very busy; rushed

  badger

  vt. bother by requesting sth. repeatedly

  tragedy

  n.  a serious play that ends unhappily; a terrible event; disaster

  historian

  n.  an expert in history; a person who writes about history

  craft

  n.  a trade or art needing skill, esp. with one's hands 工艺

  covertly

  ad. secretly

  poetry

  n.  (the art of writing) poems

  endeavor

  n.  an earnest effort or attempt

  sober

  a.  not drunk; serious, solemn

  plodding

  a.  proceeding in a slow or dull way

  phalanx

  n.  a closely massed body of persons, animals, or things; a number of persons united for a common purpose 方阵,密集的人群(兽群、东西);为一个共同目标而团结起来的一群人

  soulless

  a.  having or showing no attractive or tender human qualities

  electromagnetism

  n.  magnetism produced by an electric current; the branch of physics that deals with electricity and magnetism 电磁(学)

  slice

  n.  a thin flat piece cut from sth; portion

  electronics

  n.  the study of electrons and their behavior and of electronic equipment such as computers

  stolid

  a.  not easily excited; showing no emotion; seeming dull

  awe

  n.  a feeling of wonder and fear mixed together with deep respect

  underarm

  a.  (euph.) of or for the armpit (为)腋下的

  deodorant

  n.  a man-made chemical substance that destroys or hides unpleasant smells, esp. those of the human body

  deride

  vt. laugh at or make fun of as of no value

  fuzzy

  a.  not clear in shape or sound; confused

  fuzzy-brained

  a.

  egghead

  n.  (derog.) a clever, highly-educated person, esp. one who is impractical

  minority

  n.  a group of people of a different race, religion or nationality from the rest of society

  tuck

  vt. put or store in a safe or secret place

  site

  n.  a place where sth. of special interest existed or happened

  Pacific

  a.  太平洋的

  atoll

  n.  ring-shaped island made of coral partly or completely enclosing an area of sea water环礁,环状珊瑚礁

  humanist

  n.  a student of human nature or affairs; follower of humanism 人文主义者,人本主义者;人道主义者

  humanistic

  of humanism or humanists

  glorification

  n.  the act of glorifying or the state of being glorified

  chaotic

  a.  in a state of complete disorder and confusion

  celebrate

  vt. mark (an event) with public or private rejoicings; praise in writing, speech, etc.

  tidal

  a.  of or having a tide

  tide

  n.  the regular rise and fall of the sea caused by the pull of the moon and sun 潮汐

  unperturbed

  a.  undisturbed; calm

  mythology

  n.  a collection of myths; the study of myths 神话集;神话学

  myth

  n.  an ancient story that expresses the beliefs and values of a people 神话故事

  manfully

  ad. bravely, courageously

  geological

  a.  of or having to do with geology

  geology

  n.  the study of the origin, structure and history of the earth 地质学

  politician

  n.  a person who runs for or holds a position in government

  preach

  v.  speak publicly on a religious or moral subject

  gospel

  n.  a set of instructions or teachings; any of the four accounts of Christ's life in the Bible 《新约》四部福音之一

  archaic

  a.  belonging to the past; no longer used

  fruitful

  a.  producing good results; successful

  interpreter

  n.  a person who interprets 翻译

  interpret

  vi. put (a language) into the words of another language usu. by speech; make clear or explain the meaning of

  interpretation

  n.

  evangelize

  vt. preach the Gospel (to)对……宣讲福音

  farthermost

  a.  most distant; farthest

  knowledgeable

  a.  knowing a lot

  Phrases & Expression

  come out

  be published

  bit by bit

  gradually; little by little

  lean on

  choose, esp. for support; depend on

  feel for

  sympathize with

  in one's hands

  under one's control; be taken care of

  one the grounds that

  for the reason that

  think out

  consider, examine carefully

  back up

  support, esp. in an argument

  tuck away

  store in a safe place

  take thought

  perform the actions connected with thinking; think

  Proper Names

  Ben Bova

  本.博瓦

  MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  麻省理工学院

  Abraham

  亚伯拉罕

  Paris

  帕里斯

  Troy

  特洛伊

  Hamlet

  哈姆雷特

  Claudius

  克劳狄斯

  Faust

  浮士德

  New Scientist

  《新科学家》周刊

  Robert Graves

  罗伯特.格雷夫斯

  James Clerk Maxwell

  詹姆斯.克拉克.马克斯韦尔

相关资讯:
网站导航:
 学位英语 指南 动态 经验 试题 资料  托福 指南 动态 考情 留学 复习
 雅思 指南 动态 机经 经验 辅导  公共英语 指南 动态 备考 试题 辅导
 日语 指南 资讯 辅导 留学 考试  法语 发音 词汇 语法 听说 阅读
 韩语 入门 口语 阅读 留学 文化  西语 口语 词汇 阅读 留学 风采

学位英语免费试听

更多>>
  • 四级辅导
  • 六级辅导
全科套餐
280元/门
超值优惠套餐=写作+词汇+听力+阅读+翻译+真题精讲班 70课时
词汇串讲 精讲大纲词汇,轻松记忆单词
课时数:10课时
阅读串讲 紧扣大纲要求,直达阅读高分
课时数:10课时
听力串讲 剖析解题秘笈,提升听力水平
课时数:10课时
写作串讲 解读命题规律,揭秘高分技巧
课时数:10课时
翻译串讲 梳理重要考点,提高应试能力
课时数:约6课时
真题精讲 讲授历年真题,直击命题精髓
课时数:24课时

网校介绍

更多>>

外语教育网(www.for68.com)是北京东大正保科技有限公司(CDEL)旗下一家大型外语远程教育网站,正保科技成立于2005年7月,是国内超大型外语远程教育基地,上榜“北京优质教育资源榜”--“百万读者推崇的网络教育机构”。


公司凭借雄厚的师资力量、先进的网络视频多媒体课件技术、严谨细致的教学作风、灵活多样的教学方式,为学员提供完整、优化的外语课程,既打破了传统面授的诸多限制,发挥了网络教育的优势,也兼顾面授的答疑与互动特点,为我国培养了大量优秀的外语人才。


为了满足学员学习不同语种、不同阶段的学习需求,网站开设了包括考试英语、行业英语、实用口语以及小语种在内的百余门语言学习课程,涵盖英语、日语、韩语、俄语、德语、法语、西班牙语、意大利语、阿拉伯语等主要语种,供学员自由选择。此外,网站还拥有各类外语专业信息和考试信息20余万条,是广大学员了解外语类考试最新政策、动态及参加各语种培训的优质网站。


北京东大正保科技有限公司成立于2000年,是一家具备网络教育资质、经教育部批准开展远程教育的专业公司,为北京市高新技术企业、中国十大教育集团、联合国教科文组织技术与职业教育培训在中国的唯一试点项目。


公司下属13家行业远程教育网站,业务涵盖了会计、法律、医学、建设、自考、成考、考研、中小学、外语、信息技术、汉语言教学等诸多领域,拥有办公面积8000多平米,员工近千人,公司年招生规模达270万人。由于正保远程教育(China Distance Education Holdings Ltd., CDEL)在中国互联网远程教育行业内的绝对优势和强大影响力,正保教育模式一直被广大投资人所追捧。2008年7月30日,公司在美国纽约证券交易所正式挂牌上市(股票交易代码:DL),是2008年唯一一家在美国纽交所上市的专业从事互联网远程教育的中国企业。


精彩推荐

版权声明
   1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。
  本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、本网站欢迎积极投稿
  4、联系方式:
编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
电话:010-82319999-2371