Help me find a half-remembered Asimov quote!
May 11, 2013 2:35 PM   Subscribe

I can faintly remember once reading something by Isaac Asimov about the moon landing. He was making a point about the predictive power or lack thereof of science fiction. He wrote that of the dozens of hundreds of stories written pre-1969 about the first moon landing, not a single one featured the event being televised live back to earth. So where did he write this? Or was it someone else who made the point?
posted by LarryC to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not what you asked for but perhaps relevant. A televised moon landing was "predicted" by Harold M. Sherman in "All Aboard for the Moon" published in Amazing Stories Volume 21 in 1947.
posted by R2WeTwo at 3:08 PM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Interesting, R2!

I finally came up with a search string within Google Books that has a lot of folks paraphrasing the Asimove quote, but no citations that I can find.
posted by LarryC at 3:11 PM on May 11, 2013

Ironically, he mentions this notion in the video in the recent FPP (at about 8:30). He may have expressed this in writing as well, but I am not a huge Asimov fan, so I cannot steer you further.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:14 PM on May 11, 2013

Well, it seems to have inspired some discussion in the letters column of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine -- in Vol. 13 (1989) one Tony Belding wrote that in a previous letter he had compiled a list, and now Dennis Lien (apparently the journalist who has connections in the world of sf writing) "was inspired to find the earliest such" reference. [Snippet view, alas, gets in the way of further research.] So the position existed, as noted, and was known. I can't find a citation, though, earlier than about 1997 other than the aforementioned. It may not actually appear in any published work.
posted by dhartung at 12:40 AM on May 12, 2013

Arthur C Clarke often made this point. He does so in this Guardian article:
INTERVIEWER: With scientific progress moving so fast, it must be a job keeping in advance of the real thing.

ACC: It's almost impossible. Many of the things that I've described have become history – not in the way that I said, because I wrote a book in 1948 about the first landing on the moon, which I put in 1978. I thought it was ridiculous putting it only 30 years in the future, but in fact my deadline was beaten.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:15 AM on May 12, 2013

Best answer: I think I found it! From an essay called 'Our Future in Cosmos - Computers', in this record of a series of lectures sponsored by NASA in the early 1980's, called 'The Impact of Science on Society' [PDF]. From Asimov's lecture, 'Our Future in the Cosmos - Computers':
Decades ago we science fiction writers foresaw a great many things about space travel, but two things we did not foresee. In all the time that I wrote stories about our first Moon landing and about the coming of television, nobody, it far as I know, in the pages of the science fiction magazines, combined the two. Nobody foresaw that when the first Moon landing took place, people on Earth would watch it on television. Nor did science fiction writers foresee that in taking ships out into space, they would depend quite so much on computers. The computerization of space flight was something that eluded them completely. So, I have two broad areas that I can discuss in talking about our destiny in the cosmos. One area is the future of computerization, and the other area is the future of space itself.
I can't really say why I spent a full 30 minutes searching for this.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:58 AM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks HTWRT and everyone else. The hive mind scores again.
posted by LarryC at 7:00 AM on May 12, 2013

Oh, hey! The Impact of Science on Society is also posted on Scribd (just in case that dubious Google link stops working).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:16 AM on May 12, 2013

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