Wednesday, May 04, 2011
How do you know the planet Mars isn't carried around by an angel?
Haldane was a scientist, a geneticist, a socialist. He was from a wealthy family, lived in both England and Calcutta, was married twice. But he's the kind of person who fascinates me - not his biography, but the way his mind worked. Scientists are supposed to be focused on experimentation, but Haldane seems to me to be focused on what if.
All writers use this as a way to get into story - what if that couple are really aliens? What if that baby had been kidnapped and the woman with her is her kidnapper? What if there really are aliens among us? What if...
Haldane saw what all great science fiction writers see - possibilities that most of us can't imagine, no matter how good we are at the what if game. It takes a specific type of mind to see things that are so far out of our realm. How did the scientists figure out that the earth wasn't flat? that the earth travelled around the sun?
So Haldane is one of my story heroes. I think of him often when I'm writing, think of his ability to imagine something way out there in the realm of possibilities. I'm never going to write science fiction, but I like to think about that possibility.