From Small(ish) to Big(understatement), a look at megastructures in science fiction

I’d like to discuss the idea of Megastructures within science fiction. I’d like to research their origins within the genre, their influence on today’s society, and the concepts and ideas of futurists that challenge what is conceivably possible. I’d start with the ideas of mega cities, seemingly contemporary in construction, but covering exponentially larger areas. Next would com the idea of Arcology or “architectural ecology”, which are essentially self-sustaining (ideally zero-waste) megastructures that house large populations. Then comes a shift into outer space, talking about space elevators and habitats. Lastly I’d like to cover artificial planets, Ringworlds, and Dyson Swarm. Mixed in with the research, I intend to give my own analysis on these ideas, and possible reasons as to why such ideas have come about in the first place.

Oh well, why not include some content on multiple universe theories, fractals, alternate dimensions, and chaos theory. I’m joking of course, but it would be interesting to draw parallels between all these concepts.

I wouldn’t be covering large numbers of works for this project, just key texts that illustrate each milestone. For example, I might use metropolis to talk about mega cities and use resources on real cities to make connections between science fiction and reality. How the former influences the latter. If possible I’d like to draw from different mediums of science fiction besides printed text such as, games and movies I’ve played or seen.

I seems to me that reality or our knowledge and perception of it, can’t keep up with our imaginations.“Now that we know that this is possible, what comes after?” “What else is possible, based on what we know?” We keep asking those kinds of questions until we reach a point where concepts of what is possible become too intangible for us to socially and/or scientifically conceive. Then we just have to wait for reality to catch up. This line of thinking is what I’d like to demonstrate by megastructures evolving from mega cities to interstellar(or galactic) constructs in science fiction.

In terms of the deliverable, I’m not sure exactly how it might look. I’m leaning towards a paper, but I’d like to include images and diagrams to better convey the concepts. I would still need to think on this aspect. What I can do right now, is collect the resources I would like to use in this project.

One thought on “From Small(ish) to Big(understatement), a look at megastructures in science fiction

  1. Eugene, this is a really cool idea for a project, and I’m eager to hear (as I know your classmates will be) about your research. And yes, including images and diagrams in the final write-up would be helpful.

    One thing, though, is that it seems pretty sprawling right now, so as you continue your research, you should work to focus it more. Instead of simply writing a paper that presents many different types of megastructures separately / informatively (e.g., here are lots of different examples of megastructures), almost like an encyclopedia article, how can you make connections / arguments about particular aspects of megastructures within (or related to SF)?

    Please create a revised proposal post where you work through some of this narrowing task.

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