Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Future

After a long day involving a flat tire, a missing spare, a cab ride in the rain, and my annual birthday bottle of limoncello, we are in no position to say anything of substance about literature. Luckily, Atrios is:

It's occurred to me recently that all the whiz-bang gadgets predicted either already exist in some form, or are unlikely to exist anytime soon. If one were to write a technology-centric non-dystopian novel about, say, the year 2040, what neato things would we imagine?

I can't come up with much.

Actually, that's an excellent question. I remember reading Kim Stanley Robinson's wonderful Mars Trilogy back in the early 90's, and enjoying its speculations, including a distant future in which people could access their own personal databases of information via a wireless wrist computer. This was a couple of years before the advent of, um...Hotbot? Webcrawler? Anyway, ten years was all it took for this to seem horribly dated. (A bit reminiscent of the Stanislaw Lem novel--Fiasco, maybe?--in which explorers to another planet are recording moving images using an enormous film camera.)

I can't come up with anything, either, aside from time travel, the last great conceptual frontier. Suddenly I'm terrified that science fiction is dead. Steve Jobs killed it. Horrors!

10 comments:

bigscarygiraffe said...

happy birthday

jrlennon said...

Thanks!

rmellis said...

Maybe that's why I quit reading science fiction; maybe it was really all about the gadgets!

I read a really great science fiction story in 8th grade -- does anyone remember it? I'd love to track it down -- in which some explorers on Mars find a building that looks sort of like a temple, except that there are these faucets that dispense a hot, brown stew.

I used to love really atmospheric science fiction, like Ray Bradbury's.

Mr. Saflo said...

Cory Doctorow (the guy from BoingBoing) wrote a novel called Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom which takes place in a vague sort of future in which everyone has some sort of internet...thing in their heads. Characters are constantly "pinging" one another's "whuffie," which is akin to Googling someone, as well as bringing holographic keyboard things, or something like that. Look, I read it a long time ago, cut me a break. Anyway, my point is that while this sounds pretty nightmarish, I think it's an inevitability that the internet, as it grows larger, faster, more occupied, and home to more exclusive information, will in some form or another converge with conventional reality to the point where it's like a sixth sense or something.

Or something, or something, or something.

jrlennon said...

Ow! Dude, your comment grazed my amygdala.

5 Red Pandas said...

I think time travel has to be the logical step of sci fi. I don't read much sci fi, but I've been reading Connie Willis's books and she writes about time travel in humorous ways. It's that combination of historical fiction combined with the future that I find amusing. Otherwise I have a hard time getting into sci fi.

GCM said...

Given the recent controversy caused by human programmers / literary types, I wonder if it'd be possible to develop robot readers.

This would allow both submitters and editors to rest easy with the knowledge that an impartial, objective, programmable Zamyatineske Benefactor judges all.

* Avoid sassy editorial comments with MicroSoft Benefactor (tm)!

Mr. Saflo said...

Oh, everybody's a comedian today.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

I don't know if anyone has read Snow Crash but I love that whole 3-D cyberworld idea that it delves into...Not even sure if it counts as a Sci Fi novel :) but still entertaining to see someone's (usually dire- Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?) vision of what was going to happen in 1994 or 2001 etc. Retro-futuristic is what my photography teacher calls it...

jrlennon said...

Yeah, I like that book pretty well. I think my favorite of his is The Diamond Age, however, with that amazing interactive book. Kindle it ain't, but I bet it will come to pass.