Engineering in Science Fiction #SciFiSunday

What happens when science fiction authors who are also engineers get together to chat? Here’s more from Tor:

What are common flaws and assumptions you see in SFF that are engineering related?

John Chu: That engineering isn’t primarily about people. That engineers only get involved when something has gone horribly wrong. That the immutable laws of physics are somehow the engineer’s biggest obstacle. I should point out that, on the other extreme, “Oh, this would be brilliant if it were not for all the bureaucracy forcing the engineers to make it awful” is also a pitfall.

A.T. Greenblatt: One of the biggest inaccuracies I see in engineering in SFF is that the napkin sketch looks exactly like the final product. When designing things in real life the end product is often quite different from those initial concept ideas. Especially if you’re working in a team with other engineers. (And engineers usually work in teams.) Another one is that in stories, the end user uses the product exactly as intended, with no hiccups. In real life, this is a pipe dream. The end user is often a creative abuser who never bothers to read the manual before installing. So usually this results in: 1. A redesign. 2. Lots of broken products. 3. The user finding innovative and unexpected uses for that design.

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