Science fiction looks to the future — but sometimes the future catches up to you. Sometimes, an idea generates tons of great science fiction stories — until science reveals the truth, and kills it dead. Or technology surpasses it. Here are nine scientific breakthroughs that destroyed science fiction subgenres.
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1) No Martian Civilization
Just over 100 years ago, many people still believed there might be intelligent life on Mars — with Percival Lowell claiming there were “canals” on Mars that were created by intelligent creatures, based on a mis-translation of the Italian word “canali” in astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli’s writing. Soon, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and a ton of other authors were writing about Martian civilizations.
The discovery: We figured out by the late 19th century that the atmosphere of Mars probably couldn’t support life, and the “canals” were debunked roughly a century ago. But it wasn’t until we were sending space probes to Mars and getting really good images of the surface, around1971, that the “Mars invades Earth” and “Mars has civilizations on it” stories just dried up.
Link to the rest at io9 and thanks to Joshua for the tip.