Skip to main content

Future Guidance

"No Flying Cars, But the Future is Bright" is an article that neatly sums up a few things I've been thinking about this week. Virginia Postrel wrote the article to talk about how the small incremental changes over the past few decades do add up to a big deal. The article itself was written in reaction to this piece, "Why We Can't Solve Big Problems," by Jason Pontin, in the MIT Technology Review. I'm not going to do a full summation of the two articles, you can choose to do that on your own, or not, but here are the bumper stickers:

  1. Pontin claims that the reason the future seems to be been deferred, the reason that we have Twitter instead of Transcontinental Supersonic flights, is that we have lost our will to progress. For a variety of political, and cultural reasons, we have lost the will to think big. NASA has plans that could take us to Mars by 2030 if we only had the political will that existed in the '60s. Global Warming might not be so catastrophic if we could just move past the political grid-lock of the present.
  2. On the other hand, Postrel claims that the future is doing just fine, thank you. Yeah, 2001 the movie from the 1960s looked a lot different than 2001 in reality. On many levels. But the improvement in efficiency, information exchange and medical technology do represent progress. A time traveler from the middle of last century would be impressed with the world he or she discovered.
I think the note of congratulation in Postrel's piece is probably not unwarranted. We live in a country with tremendous problems, problems thrown into harsh contrast this past weekend. However, we are still a country moving in the right direction. We reelected a progressive president from an ethnic group subjected to segregation and casual explicit racism in this country last century. It appears more and more certain that the outcome of the budget fights will be one favorable to social justice. While frustratingly ubiquitous, technology has allowed all of us to become part of something quite a bit larger than a town, city, state or even, arguably, a country. The change is one of scale and efficiency but it is still a change.

But Pontin's article is still compelling. I wonder if the value of such statements: "The future was supposed to be so much better!"is not so much their relative accuracy but simply that they keep moving us forward. Damnit, I've said it before, but we should be on Mars already. We should be doing more to protect this planet. And, the idea of violence as the primary solution to problems should be more and more unthinkable, unimaginable.

Maybe that's the value of speculative fiction in general, not so much a prediction, but a sign post pointing towards some other, weirder, better future.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Solemn Treasures

In Gilead, the transcendent novel by Marilynn Robinson, a 76 year old man confronts his impending mortality and the sense he cannot provide for his young son after he is gone. He had not expected to meet his son's mother in the twilight of his life, not expected to have a son. If he had, he tells his son in a lengthy letter forming the substance of Robinson's novel, he might have set something by for him. Some sort of savings or investment. It pains him to think that when he is gone, all that he can leave are a few words.

What words.

As mentioned in a previous post, I set myself on the task (is that really the right word here? maybe endeavor would be better) to read as many of the 'great novels' of this young century as I could. After reading Hillary Mantel's "Wolf Hall-" which was also fantastic by the way - I made my way to Gilead. One of the many quietly strange things about this novel is that it's actually the second novel from Robinson. Her first…

New Story Acceptance!

As mentioned last week, I do have a bit of happy news to share. I am excited to announce that my story, "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," will appear in the next issue of the Electric Spec Magazine at the end of the month. I am tremendously excited about this for a few reasons:
Electric Spec is simply awesome. I've been reading this magazine for awhile and never been disappointed by a single story. To have one of my stories selected is beyond humbling. I can only give an earnest thank you to Lesley L. Smith for choosing the story.I love this story dearly. It has one of my favorite protagonists and shows in the clearest way I've managed where I'd like to go with my fiction. Electric Spec also gave me the chance to reflect on this story and its meaning in a guest blog which I am sharing below. Without being spoilery, this blog expresses some of what resonates about "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," with me. Guest Blog at Electric SpecAt the moment, I think the…

"The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY" is now available!

My new story, "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," is now available in the current issue of the Electric Spec magazine. I'm very proud that this story is getting published at Electic Spec for the simple reason I've been reading the magazine for years, dreaming of the day I might get a story published there. Well, it's finally happened.

The story of "Yuru-chara" is pretty simple: a young girl wakes up to discover that her old virtual friend, a seven-foot-tall yellow monster named Tama Bell, has come to life. While navigating through waves of other virtual creatures released through a world-wide hack, the young heroine tries to come to grips with her responsibility to her forgotten friend and the losses inherent to growing up.

I hope that you enjoy my story and that you give the other stories a try. They're awesome!

Thank you for your continued support.