September 11, 2004

Six sci-fi writers consider our social future

[via Gravity Lens] John Shirley of Locus Magazine recently asked 6 science fiction writers to speculate about our social future. These writers were Cory Doctorow, Pat Murphy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling and Ken Wharton. Some of the issues addressed include the environment, copyright, social trends, terrorism, war, world government, and the upcoming Presidential election.
Some questions are hard to formulate — but you carry them around inside you, like Confucius overlong in the womb, waiting for a way to ask them. I wanted to know about the quality of life in the future. I wanted to know about our political life; the scope of our freedom. I wanted to know what it was going to be like on a daily basis for my son and my grandson — I wanted to know if perhaps my son would do better to have no children at all. Those are general yearnings, more than specific questions. The questions I came up with still seem too general, and approximate. “I think it helps to use Raymond Williams' concept of 'residual and emergent,'” Kim Stanley Robinson told me, “...and consider the present as a zone of conflict between residual and emergent social elements, not making residual and emergent code words for 'bad and good' either.” Residual and emergent: yes. But what will reside and what emerge? From here, the future is just that unfocused. So I simply I asked the only questions I had... and six science fiction writers answered.

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