There are many reasons why writers write. Some have a story that simply has to be told, others like to create worlds that can be shaped and molded by their own thoughts and desires. Regardless of the reason, the end product is not just ink on paper or words on a screen; the final product is a blue print that can be used as inspiration for more ideas and a driver of innovation and technology that can be developed further at some point in the future.
There are numerous examples of how fiction has inspired real life events. Science fiction is especially conducive to seeding ideas for technological advancements. Cell phones, the landing on the moon, and many other events and inventions started out as ideas that were once just words read by someone who thought that the ideas those words represented just might be possible.
As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I am personally hoping for the day when some scientist discovers a way to travel across the universe, back in time, and through a parallel dimension. I would also like to see material sciences create special fabrics and metals with spatial properties that allow us to access the empty space within atoms or create a true cloak of invisibility. As strange as some of these ideas sound, many of them are already being studied and developed today. Scientists have been inspired by cryogenics to create new fields in medicine such as bio-vitrification, which is currently used in organ transplants as well as by companies such as the Alcor Life Extension Foundation to research methods of creating operational states of suspended animation. I firmly believe that we will some day be able to utilize these technologies to create multi-generational ships that travel across the galaxy, allow mankind to explore and colonize the vast reaches of space and beyond, as well as to extend the life of man to approach that of immortality.
Fiction has not just driven technology; it also has been a springboard for social commentary and pointing out problems within societies and governments. It has allowed thinkers and philosophers to ponder what the world would be like if specific events or societal constructs were different. From William Shakespeare to Thomas Moore to George Orwell and Ayn Rand, utopian and dystopian stories have flourished as outlets to describe what ills society in a fictional setting that can be analyzed and digested divorced from its own reality and political constraints. It has been the products of these pioneers and these thinkers that have led to the paradigm shifts and the cultural renaissances that have provided some of the greatest leaps in the evolution of mankind.
While many people hold the belief that the human race will self-destruct in short order, I am not one of those people. I am a futurist and an optimist. It is true that people often ignore the lessons of history, but it is also true that man has been marching steadily forward. While that march has not been uniform, it has been present nonetheless. It has been present because since the invention of papyrus by the Egyptians, the movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, and the Kindle by Amazon, people have continued to write; people have continued to inspire, and people have continued to lay the foundation and the framework for future generations in the form of the written word.
While not every word will generate an epiphany in the reader, there will be some; there will be a few, and there will be that one in a million idea that started out as a scribble on a piece of paper or keystroke on a computer used in a fictional work by some as of yet unknown author that changed the world.