As a sometimes writer of Science Fiction, I occasionally will have flashes of thought concerning the projected literary technological advances versus the actual technological advances. We appear to have reached a point where some predictions are coming true while others, not so much.
Case in point: I was promised flying cars…Where are the flying cars?
This is not to say that we are not making huge strides forward. Look at the current influx of SmartPhones and Tablets. This year’s crop will have better processing, RAM and Graphics capabilities than my laptop. So, handheld computing devices that are practically connected to everything and can control everything, upon which we are utterly dependent, Check.
Great medical strides continue to be made. Alas, still no miracle injection that takes care of anything and everything. No pills that when touched with water turn into amazing 5 course meals. Oooh, and there is a distinct lack of jumpsuits. Though, that’s probably for the best.
Lots of written works suggested that multi-national corporations would rise up and take control from governments, or governments would become shadowy organizations that monitor every thought and action of their citizens. Good news! We’re getting closer on those two fronts. I think the face and language of that multi-national corporation will not be Japanese as predicted in the 80s/90s, but rather Chinese given their incredible push into the tech markets, as well as their consumption of financial stakes in other countries.
You know what else I was promised… Moon colonies, space stations the size of cities and the human exploration of the universe. Of course all of those are cost prohibitive and so only mega-corporations will be able to afford to do that (now we are brushing the edges of a circular argument [double score, circles do not have edges…]). Look at all the private space flight companies that are springing up. It reinforces that notion that the governments may slip to the wayside as everything returns to the 1800s industrial complex where you lived, worked and died for the company. You buy things at the company store against your earnings, live in their barrack style housing, eat in their cafeterias.. Oh wait, China again.
Please do not think that I am taking a mean-spirited swipe at China. But if you look at the world through Science Fiction goggles, or even steampunk ones, you will see what I am talking about.
Science Fiction usually has a dystopian world view. This I think, gives the protagonist something to struggle against. Where would Richard Deckard be if his future was a perfect utopia? Out of work for sure, and nothing to work for. When I write a piece of SF, I am holding out hope against the fate of the world, that change can happen starting with one person. I think is true with most of the SF genre. The protagonist frequently is working towards improving his/her life, society, world, known universe.
As a genre Science Fiction holds up lofty goals: Utopian societies, fantastic travel and experiences to the furthest corners of the universe. It also has very large and serious problems. The worlds and situations it presents are frequently not pleasant ones. Something will control you, something will consume you, something will tell you what to do and when to do it, something might eat you then excrete you to fertilize a growing colony of alien bugs bent on universal cross-pollination. All very scary stuff.
The real world is careening into the future like a sailor on shore-leave after six months of submarine duty. Heading into danger, wide-eyed and willing. Hoping for the best possible outcome.
Writers are more refined now when they write of the future. Science allows them to write more distinctly regarding the technologies used to fuel space travel, or tech gadgets. Slightly older works, such as those by William Gibson for example, ring truer now than ever before. There is a convergence occurring between reality and the written worlds. As writers I think we are seizing the new opportunities that the modern world presents and creating new avenues of work. Exploring contemporary issues in future settings.
So, let’s go into the future. Shoulder to shoulder. With ink-stained fingers and a bag of solutions. And Hope.
Thanks for reading!