Karl Schroeder, a fantastic science fiction author (see this review for a taste of his work
) has spent the past two years in a Master's programme in Foresight at the Ontario College of Art and Design. In this guest essay on Charlie Stross's blog, he describes the way that structured study of the future interacts with science fiction. Karl is always the furthest-out guy I know -- he was the person I first heard the word "fractal" and "SGML" from, long before they'd entered the popular consciousness.
If you're afraid of being a poor predictor of the near future, you'll avoid writing about it. But what if you were never out to predict in the first place? What if you don't care if a story you set in 2012 gets immediately overtaken by events? What if you set the action there not to predict some event or outcome, but to encourage some action on the part of your readers?
In other words I have a new ambition for my own SF: not as prediction, and not cautionary, either--but aspirational.
The fact is that if I've learned one thing in two years of studying how we think about the future, it's that the one thing that's sorely lacking in the public imagination is positive ideas about where we should be going. We seem to do everything about our future except try to design it. It's a funny thing: nobody ever questions your credentials if you predict doom and destruction. But provide a rosy picture of the future, and people demand that you justify yourself. Increasingly, though, I believe that while warning people of dire possibilities is responsible, providing them with something to aspire to is even more important. The foresight programme has given me a lot of tools to do that in a justifiable way, so I might as well use them.
Mur Lafferty, an amazing author and podcaster, had her mainstream publishing debt in 2013 with the wonderful Shambling Guide to New York City, about a travel writer who gets tapped to write a guidebook for spooks, haints, vampires and werewolves.
Kyle writes, “The Volt is a fully open source, arduino-based, handmade analog clock that tells time with meters. Available in a DIY install kit, 2 pre-made models, and a mix & match hardware option. The clocks are but with solid black walnut and maple, with faceplates produced in brass, copper, and steel. Only on Kickstarter!”
Hope Larson is a comics genius, the woman hand-picked to adapt Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle In Time for comics, who furthermore just nailed it, and whose other projects are every bit as rich and wonderful. Today she begins a new young adult series, Four Points, whose first volume, Compass South is a treasure-chest of swashbuckling themes and action.
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