I grew up on a solid diet of science fiction, and as a young man in the 1970s and 1980s I had a wide range of style to choose from — New Wave, Old Guard, the Cyberpunks. To read them all at once was like the old Evolution of Man posters, the history of the future all in view.
Like the time-traveler who uses knowledge of the future to succeed, I became a technology early-adopter by reading science-fiction. When I saw it happening for real in the 1980s, as limited and clunky as it was, I already knew what it was going to be. Twenty years ago I even lucked into a job in the field, first learning then explaining to others just what “online” was. That job is done.
I am running out of futures.
The world is catching up to my adolescent studies. For years I’ve been saying that our phones will become our computers. Now Ubuntu is really trying. That’s another future lived through.
I would like to find something to nudge me forward again, someone to read to give me the long view. Or who knows, a job.
William Gibson says that the world we live in is science-fiction enough for all his stories, and he has a point. Imagine a world where half the world’s digital resources, half the vaults in which the people of the world store their entire lives, are all compromised by great Russian ‘botnets, ready to extort the world. Hint: it’s ours.
But all of Gibson’s work stays in the Van Allen Belts. Gibson don’t warp.
There’s always new strangeness. In the 1970s everyone was convinced undersea habitats were inevitable. Except for one (and impressively futuristic, save for actual life on submarines) TV show the ocean is a popular sci-fi bust. Probably James Cameron’s fault. Still, if bell-bottoms and werewolves can come back, anything is possible.
I am late to note the passing of the great Frederik Pohl. His ideas flew because they were so grounded, in both style and science, but his characters were damaged and desperate.
I once read a Pohl essay debating the merits of electronic versus paper books — written in the 1970s, twenty years before the first handheld computers. And he was completely right to note that paper books would still be easier to use, and recover better from both sand and surf. It was a lesson in original thinking.