Not looking for porn of any kind.
“Hard Sci-Fi” refers to science fiction that violates the laws of nature as we know them as little as possible, showing restraint in the use of impossible technologies (e.g. Heisenberg compensators), new fictional elements (e.g. dilithium crystals), etc.
I’m thinking along the lines of really hard sci-fi. Sci-Fi that relies only on what we know about the natural world, and invents nothing presently thought to be impossible or wildly improbable. No warp drives allowed.
The closest thing I can think of right now was the movie Gattaca. Perhaps the only element in that film I couldn’t quite swallow was the insta-sequencers that could identify individuals as quickly as one could swipe a credit card. To do DNA fingerprinting using sequence analysis, one must probably scan through millions of base pairs, at least, to aquire information on enough polymorphisms to get reasonable confidence to identify one individual out of millions or billions in the database.
Perhaps the best technology we have now would still take several hours to generate sufficient data, in no small part because many copies of DNA must be synthesized, and that takes time. DNA polymerases can only polymerize so fast (many tens of nucleotides per second, at most), and it’s tough to imagine a purely chemical method that could work faster. It’s possible some sort of nano-technological thingy could grab individual chromosomes and pass a strand of DNA past the tip of an atomic force microscope, maybe, to read each base, but I really doubt tens of thousands of bases a second is a physically possible rate with such an apparatus. I’m not sure if anything can read molecular structure accurately on those scales at such speeds, but maybe I’m wrong.
Anyway, besides that criticism (which I don’t claim to be certain about), I couldn’t see any reason to otherwise have strong doubts about any other plot elements or Gattaca’s basic premise: That births could some day be screened for some traits, and engineered for others, to create an artificially selected and somewhat enhanced class of human being largely free of congentical defects or other “flaws”, be they serious or superficial. I’m pretty sure the brutal “operation” to extend Ethan Hawke’s legs to make him taller could probably work. We already have examples of polydactyly; so maybe getting those extra fingers to actually work wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, and hence the 12-fingered pianist isn’t quite such a stretch. Yeah, the overall vision of the future is pretty damn pessimistic and dystopian, but given our history of class struggles, that these genetic enhancements could lead to the creation a new form of biological caste system seems not too implausible. I give the flick an A- for science, and a B for being a pretty good movie anyway.
So, what’s your pick for “hardest and best sci-fi” and, do you think it could get any harder and still be interesting?