Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 434

Themes of Soonish include realistic technology, the human body, and possibilities.

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Realistic Technology

In an interview about Soonish, the authors said that they wanted to choose realistic technologies. There were some that interested them—like controlling the weather—but they didn't seem feasible after research. Realistic technology is the cornerstone of the book. Some of the ideas seem like they're a bit out there (programmable matter and asteroid mining, for example) but the authors did the research to make sure they're viable technologies. Each of the technologies in the book is something that could make a real change in human life while the people reading the book are still alive. They aren't just ideas; they're realistic technology.

The Human Body

There's a reason why at almost of the ten technologies the authors examine focus on the body; technology that improves our bodies is one of the most interesting and relevant to many people. This is why they discuss personalized medicine, printing organs, synthetic biology, and brain-computer interfacing. As they write, "We humans have been tinkering with biology for a long time. In fact, it's kind of our thing." The book references the work on the human body that came before, including simple technologies like changing Brassica oleracea into a variety of vegetables. The authors use the human body as a good basis for helping readers to understand exactly how emerging technology could change everything from fighting diseases to diagnosing diseases to the ethical issues of brain-computer interfaces. (For example, should your employer be able to see what you store on there?) It makes the subjects of the book more personal and easier for readers to connect to.

Possibilities

Even though the technologies in the book are already in development, they also open the door to future possibilities. These are more nebulous but also very exciting to aspiring scientists. Take asteroid mining, for example. The discussion of what we can get from asteroids is current and relevant. But it also opens up future possibilities of space exploration. The more resources we can get from things closer to settlements, the better the chance those settlements will be successful. (They say it costs $10,000 to send a pound of supplies into space.) There's also the question of what we might find as we move into asteroid mining. It could answer age-old questions about the universe. Each technology discussed by the authors gives glimpses of where the technologies might go. The possibilities that the new technologies are opening up are those that will inspire readers to dream and look forward to what might be possible a decade from now.

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