CAE Reading and Use of English Part 8
You are going to read about items from science fiction that became real. For questions 47-56, choose from the sections of the article (A-D). The sections may be chosen more than once.
Which science fiction work …
47 had a purpose other than pure entertainment?
48 presented a concept that is familiar today but through a different process?
49 was written by an author who has more famous fictional creations?
50 features machines that threaten to cause the downfall of man?
51 shows us a device that would have enormous significance for us if it really existed?
52 was created by a writer whose name will never be forgotten?
53 was given a title that might be better understood by people today than when it was written?
54 revolves around a character who uses a particular device to escape from the reality of a situation?
55 delighted people over a period of many years?
56 foresaw something that is controversial today?
We’ve seen it all before!
Just how many of the technological advances we take for granted today were actually predicted in science fiction years ago? Karen Smith checks out four influential works.
Originally a word that appeared solely in science fiction, the term ‘robot’ has now become commonplace as developments in technology have allowed scientists to design ever more complex machines that can perform tasks to assist us at work or home. But how did the word originate and when? To answer this, we have to go back nearly 100 years to a play written in 1920 by a Czech playwright, Karel Capek, called R. U. R — Rossum’s Universal Robots. The word is a derivation from the Czech robota, meaning ‘forced labour’, or rab, meaning ‘slave’. Capek’s robots are biological machines which are uncannily similar to what we today refer to as ‘clones’ or ‘androids’ but are assembled from various parts rather than being genetically ‘grown.’ The play eerily predicts problems that concern people today regarding machines that can think independently. Rossum’s robots plan a rebellion against their creator, a man who in his own words, wants to ‘play God’. The famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov was unimpressed by the literary value of Capek’s play but believed it had enormous significance because it introduced the word robot to the world.
If you’re a science fiction aficionado, you’ll definitely have heard of Hugo Gernsback. Considered by many to be the founding father of science fiction back in 1926 with the publication of his magazine Amazing Stories, his name has been immortalised in the annual science fiction awards, the ‘Hugos’. However, the quality of his writing is questionable and his stories are more highly regarded for their content rather than plot or character development. Gernsback was deeply interested in the world of electronics and, believing that science-fiction should inspire future scientists, he filled his stories with ideas for numerous new gadgets and electronic devices. An extraordinary number of his predictions have actually come true. Today we have television, televised phone calls, sliding doors and remote controls, to name only a few, and the precursors of many of these can be found in just one novel: Ralph 124C41+.The mystifying title is itself a prediction of language used in text talk today: ‘one to foresee for all (1+)’! Gernsback’s prophetic stories included other predictions which currently remain unfulfilled, such as complete weather control, thought records and aircabs. Watch this space!
From the London Town of 1904
Mark Twain is a familiar name to most of us as the author of magnificent books such as Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer . He is less well-known, however, for his science fiction but to avid readers of that genre, he is considered one of the best writers of all time. It is also quite possible that he predicted one of the most influential scientific inventions the world has ever seen — something that we all use and rely on every day: the Internet! It is in a little-known short story called From the London Town of 1904 that a character invents a device called a ‘telectroscope’. This is a machine that uses telephone line links across the world to enable him to see and hear what is going on in any place on the globe at a given time. How familiar does that sound? The character, while on death row for a murder that he did not commit, uses his machine to ‘call up’ different places in the world and the narrator of the story comments that although in a prison cell, the man is ‘almost as free as the birds.’
These days mobile phones have become such an integral part of our daily lives that we would be lost without them but there was a time when we had to communicate using landlines or — horror of horrors — by writing letters! Viewers watching the birth of a new TV science fiction series in the 1960s would have been amazed at the thought that the ‘communicator’ used by Star Trek’s Captain Kirk would one day become an everyday form of communication available to us all. Kirk’s ‘communicator’ was a small device he used to flip open and, in retrospect, it seems surprisingly similar to a mobile phone that became popular in the late 90s. The long-running series also featured several other devices that have since moved from fiction to the real world. However, the famous Star Trek ‘Transporter’, through which people can immediately materialise in different places, still remains the Holy Grail for many in the world of science. Now, that really would make a difference to our lives. ‘Beam us up, Scottie,’ please?
1 B — subject. Phrase subject to means that it has happened before and therefore very likely to happen again. Liable to means that it can happen, but less likely so. Context suggests that the probability is quite high. Other options do not fit here.
2 C — achieving. Achieve is the only word that collocates with price here.
3 C — potential. Potential buyers are people who are likely to be interested in what you are selling. Other words aren’t normally used with buyers.
4 A — clinch. To clinch a sale/deal is an informal expression meaning ‘to secure or to guarantee a sale’.
5 D — although. The second part of the sentence gives reason to renovate the place even though it logically makes sense not to, this is why we use although.
6 A — doing. To do up means ‘to renovate, to fix’.
7 B — room. Room for something here means space but in respect to place where people live. In other words if we are talking about a place where people reside then the word ‘room’ is commonly used when talking about free space.
8 D — stamp. To put your stamp on something means to give it a personal touch.
9 on. To concentrate on something means to focus your attention on it.
10 although/though/while. Conjunctions with the meaning ‘despite that’. Any of the three can be used.
11 something. We can’t use ‘anything’ here as it would distort the meaning of sentence.
12 not. Pay attention not to put ‘aren’t’ here. The verb is already here, you only need to add a negative adverb.
13 have. Passive construction is used.
14 under. ‘To be under threat’ is an often-used collocation.
15 making. Context suggest using an ‘-ing’ word.
16 too. Do not make the common mistake of misspelling it as ‘to’. Misspelled words aren’t counted as correct answers.
17 grandeur. Noun is needed here. A tricky word to spell, be attentive. Greatness does not fit here, as it is formed from the word ‘great’, not ‘grand’.
18 eruption. Eruption is what happens when a volcano becomes active and shoots hot lava.
19 Towering. The meaning is that the walls are very high. The word should be capitalised, it won’t be scored otherwise.
20 strength. A difficult word to spell right.
21 sheltered. Sheltered means ‘protected, covered’.
23 unpleasant. ‘Or even threatening’ helps to understand that the other word has a negative meaning, so negative prefix should be used.
24 inescapable. Make sure you use the right negative prefix.
25 of/about his chances of success. To be confident about something.
26 should make you (feel) calmer/ more calm. Keep in mind that with shorter words both forms (calmer/more calm) are acceptable.
27 have a really/very bad memory for. To have good/bad memory for something.
28 on the grounds of. On the grounds of = because of.
29 regret not helping. Simply putting ‘regret’ in without changing the rest of the sentence will be regarded as a mistake (e.g. ‘I regret that I didn’t help him’)
30 prevented from going away. Prevented from something.
31 В. The author was most surprised by the fact, that she referred to Madrid as her home, even though she didn’t mean to — she did it subconsciously, without thinking. Answer A is incorrect — the arrival on time surprised her, but it wasn’t the most unexpected thing, as required by the question.
32 D. The example the author uses is not having a Social Security Number in the US. Answer A isn’t correct — the example with people in Brazil ‘talking behind your back’ doesn’t mean that people didn’t accept the author. It only goes to show communication problems. Constant travelling or being away from your relatives isn’t mentioned as a key reason for discomfort.
33 В. Practicality is the obvious advantage in the example. It was much easier for the author to cook and rest at her apartment in Spain rather than living in a tent in Patagonia.
34 A. Sentences two and three of paragraph starting with ‘But the feeling…’ talk about getting used to feeling at home in a gradual and slow way: sensation that is achieved over time, a slow progressing relationship. Last but one sentence: Slowly but surely, I learned to live the Spanish lifestyle.
35 D. Flamenco lovers refers to the dance style of the past, whereas clubbing is a more modern experience. Other answers do not imply both classical and modern aspects.
36 B. The author mentions that expats feel a period of ambiguity, feeling like new arrivals. Ambiguity is uncertainty or insecurity.
37 A. Other commentators believe the prime benefit of volunteers is to learn back from the people they help. Commentator A on the other hand is convinced that the work should be ‘organised with the needs of the communities in mind’ rather than to benefit volunteers themselves.
38 D. Both commentators share the view that the experience is positive for volunteers themselves most of all. Commentator A is focused on host-country benefits. Commentator C talks of potential benefit for the country the volunteers comes from.
39 C. Both commentators complain about volunteers’ unrealistic and overly ambitious expectations to bring serious changes over a short period of their stay.
40 В. Commentators C and B talk about the shift in thinking about how the people who help can benefit from it.
41 F. ‘He was trying to aestheticise retailing’ says Scragg, referring of course to Gordon Selfridge, mentioned in the very first paragraph. Next paragraph starts with how the Britain recognized the importance of commerce.
42 С. The next paragraph refers to ‘the course of her research’ — Scragg’s PhD on British art and the academic work associated with it.
4З А. The following paragraph describes the “photographic evidence”, mentioned in paragraph A. Present tense is used because the author describes the picture, the evidence.
44 G. The paragraph starts stating the importance of positioning, harmony and symmetry. This is what concludes the previous paragraph. It then ends with how in difficult time people need support, and the next paragraph continues the idea, pointing out that the economy is “once again in recession”.
45 В. “Selfridge’s remains an exception” — an exception to the trend of using other forms of advertising such as the Internet mentioned in the previous paragraph. It is implied that they attract customers in an old-fashioned ways — by making the shopping windows spectacular.
46 D. “One of the illustrations she will include” — refers to the publication in one of the popular journals mentioned before.
47 В. The author believed that his stories should be an inspiration for future people of science so he included many ideas in his writing. (Sentence in the middle starting with ‘Gernsback was …’)
48 A. The ‘different process’ mentioned is how the clones are made — from various parts rather than grown.
49 C. Mark Twain is largely known for his non-science fiction books such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
50 A. The robots are those that threaten to make humanity extinct.
51 D. One but last sentence of Paragraph D explicitly states that the importance of such device would have been enormous.
52 B. The paragraph states that the author’s name ‘has been immortalised in the annual science fiction awards’.
53 B. ‘The mystifying title is itself a prediction of language used in text talk today’ suggests that author’s contemporaries had trouble understanding the title of the book.
54 C. The character uses the sci-fi analogue of the modern Internet to communicate with other people, unconfined by his prison cell.
55 D. ‘The long-running series’ is the only part that suggest it ran for a prolonged period of time to much joy of the viewers.
56 A. The controversy is concern of many people how machines can become independent and cause potential problems.