In contrast to the trashing given to SF’s ability to predict the future at Readercon last year, last Friday at Boskone, “The Place of Prediction in SF and Reality” confined the trashing to Hugo Gernsback’s ability to predict the future. He sure inspired a whole bunch of other people to do better.
The initial discussion was more about how SF writers are only showing possible futures, not necessarily saying this is how things will be. My feeling is no matter how much you assert that you aren’t pretending to be a futurologist, if you set it in the future people will construe it as prediction. Karl Schroeder suggested that SF is better at cushioning us from surprises.
The panel turned to examples where SF writers got it right, often centering around the atomic bomb. “Deadline“, for example, had enough technical details to alarm military intelligence. And they mentioned another story involving a country that could only manage to build two atom bombs and dropped both as if they had lots, but I didn’t catch the title of that one.
But all that was written last century. I want to find near future SF now. And not space opera. And not post-human Singularities. I skipped the panel about whether the Singularity scared people off. We talked about whether turning out to be wrong has scared people off . This has me thinking, if you’re going to write something in the future, date it after your own death.
As for who’s writing interesting futures, the panelists are. So my next reading list starts with a bunch of guys I haven’t read at all: Glenn Grant, Charles Gannon, Karl Schroeder, Allen Steele, and (though I didn’t see him) Andrew Zimmerman Jones. Let’s see what they’re up to.