Science fiction without the future

Science fiction author Judith Berman looks at a year's worth of issues of Asimov's and ponders the dearth of new, young sf readers. She raises the point that very few of the stories being published today are a celebration of the future (or indeed, the present), but rather they look backwards to the "Golden Age" of sf when writers were exuberant about tomorrow. She calls me on this — rightly so — for a couple of future-shocky stories I sold to Asimov's, and goes on critique the genre for being almost exclusively focused on its fear of the present and the future. Good, thought-provoking stuff!

With so many writers apparently uneasy about the state of the world, I would expect plenty of mordant commentary on our entanglement in the wheels of the runaway technological locomotive. But almost none of the stories in these 13 Asimov's issues–not even those set in a "real future"–offer a genuine critique of technology, of its use by and its impact upon humanity. David Marusek's biting "VTV," about new extremes of media manipulation, is a standout exception (3/00). Critique requires that its author gaze unflinchingly at present and future, ugly and perverse as those might appear. What we have instead here is a pervasive techno-anxiety that for the most part looks away from the source of its fears.



(Thanks, Stefan!)