A Link Between Future Thinking and Science Fiction

I recently read Mike Treder’s Aug. 14, 2007, post at ieet.org about “Post-Millennial Malaise in SF?” and it got me to thinking about the link between future thinking and science fiction.

future thinking

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but there is a pretty good theory about the rise of science fiction that says science fiction couldn’t exist until people realized that the future was going to be different than today. Basically, people’s lives were pretty much the same as the lives of their parents until the Industrial Revolution brought rapid change to society. So, fast-forward to today where change is so fast, and so constant that people’s lives can change radically — several times even — within their own lifetime. Now it’s not just my grandchildren or children who will live their lives differently, but myself.

Heck, I reading something the other day where a person was talking about the importance of making your business name easy to remember. As an example, the author mentioned a company called Mimeo and said she had a hard time remembering the company’s name because it didn’t relate to printing. Now, this author is only about five years younger than me. But it seems obvious by this statement that she has no recollection of a mimeograph, a machine used in printing and duplicating until the late 1960s and early 1970s. This just illustrates how rapid societal change has become.

Please comment belowHow does one think about the far future when the near future can be so unpredictable? So, I pose these questions:

  • When change becomes so rapid that it is almost a blur, how does one see into the future to create great science fiction?
  • Maybe it is not malaise from which science fiction suffers from, but perhaps a form of obsoleteness? What are your thoughts?

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About the author

Carma Spence has been a science fiction fan since childhood. Her father first introduced her to Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury when she was about 7 years old. She's never looked back. YesterYear's Future is a passion project inspired by a class she took in graduate school called "Science Fiction and American Culture." She is now volunteering as Co-Web Director for the Science Fiction Research Association.

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