Sunday, January 02, 2011

SF in Trouble

This is from an interview with Ted Chiang, though this quote comes from Gavin Grant:
“Science fiction is one of the biggest threads in popular entertainment,” Grant says. “There are lots of big movies, lots of TV shows based on science fiction premises, but science fiction is having this real trouble looking into the future and imagining what will happen. To look a decade or a hundred years in the future is very difficult, and there are a couple of outs that writers have been using. One, they say it’s too difficult to look into the future so we don’t have to, we can just write fantasy. Or they just look in the past and write steampunk and things like that. Don’t get me wrong, I like these things, but I think one of the things Ted does is to extrapolate rigorously and somewhat harshly, in a way that people can recognize from the life they’re living.“

The quote interests me, because it answers part of my question, where is SF going? What has been happening in the field?


Tyler Tork said...

It's nice to have the occasional realistic future, but I don't think that's what SF has ever really been about for the majority of readers. I think what people value about the genre are the sense of wonder, the theme that problems can be solved by application of brains, the novelty of different environments... After all, the staples of the genre -- FTL spaceships, easy time travel, psychic powers, aliens invading Earth -- these are unlikely to be part of the real future. Few readers let that bother them.
Mind you, it is nice if the story purportedly about the future is at least up to date with current technology. It's lazy and annoying if the people in the distant future have computers that are more difficult to find information in that we can do in Google today.

Jon said...

This is why William Gibson has started doing his "day after tomorrow" setting stories.

lydamorehouse said...

And yet YA is having no trouble finding dystopian futures... the Hunger Games trilogy and Westerfeld's Uglies tetrology.

I think there are people imagine the future out there, they're just not baby boomers. They're teens.