i am visiting family before the grind of the semester begins anew. one of the benefits to being in this household is the insane numbers of subscription networks on the old boob tube. my grandfather has access to this googolplex of narrowcast networks because it is tied to the programming bundle that contains the western/cowboy sub-genre of American tv and film which he favors. i avoid subscription tv in my day-to-day life so this is fun to look at the niches all of these groups are trying to carve out.
one such narrowcast network is the Science Channel and i spent the last hour watching 'Prophets of Science Fiction' a documentary on the predictions and work of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. sure this program was pulpy, contained cheesy historical reproductions of the science labs, and was large on hype, but the thesis was compelling. the show recounted of the predictions that Well and Verne had made in the pursuit of the art of writing. and doubly compelling as it pointed out political/moral differences of the 19th c. techno-deterministic utopianism of Verne versus the 20th c. Modernist disaffection and social concern of Wells. both writers engaged set the bar for speculative fiction as well as assuredly inspired the engineering and science by blueprinting the ideas of the submersible research vessel, time travel, and nuclear weapons. once again a fine example of the vital contribution and necessity of the arts to drive culture, not just record it.