The classic science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, when confronted with the observation that 90% of science fiction is crap, famously responded: “90% of everything is crap.” A wry comment, certainly, but notice: he did not refute the original remark.
There is, in fact, a LOT of bad science fiction and some of it is obviously inspiring some of the world’s most powerful entrepreneurs.
Elon Musk, for example, frequently quotes the 1960s potboiler Dune, a book that, frankly (as it were), hasn’t weathered all that well. Jeff Bezos similarly so loves The Expanse, a grade B TV space opera, that he kept it alive by moving it to Amazon Prime.
Both Musk and Bezos have put their money where their hearts are, by launching companies (SpaceX and Blue Origin respectively) intended to eventually colonize other planets. Even for billionaires, participating in this space race represents a big investment.
At this point, SpaceX and Blue Origin are coexisting while 1) Musk focuses on disrupting the automobile industry and 2) Bezos focuses on disrupting, well, basically everything else. This apparent truce, however, won’t and can’t be permanent.
Musk and Bezos are both highly competitive individuals, so it’s only a matter of time until they become arch-rivals to in the race to conquer outer space. To quote yet another SciFi potboiler: “There can be only one!”
With this in mind, I contacted several science fiction writers to discuss how the conflict between Musk and Bezos might play out over the next decade or so. Curiously, almost all of them felt that the conflict would play out in much the same way.
I found this “most likely” scenario interesting enough that I created an animated simulation, which I’m sharing with you so that you can better assess how to evaluate the likely impact of bad science fiction on the business climate of the future.