2020 is near-term SF
I was just reading an article about how NASA plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 and thinking that it was forever from now. Only, it’s like twelve years, which, as government agencies go is practically tomorrow.
It’s just that after eight years I’m still not used to living in the twenty-first century. There’s no jetpack, but all the science-fiction dates are just around the corner. I mean, how many stories have you read where something is set in 2024 or 2041. They sound really far away and all furturistic, except they really aren’t.
At last year’s Readercon I wound up on a panel talking about near-term SF and one of the things I said was that I counted stories as near-term right up through 2070 because there’s a fair chance that I will still be alive then. My grandmother is nearly 103 and still lives alone, so I figure 2070 ought not to be a problem for me.
Although we talk about how much has changed in the last hundred years, look at how much hasn’t. Sure there’s tech that a teenager in 1920 would not believe possible, but the structure of society hasn’t shifted out of recognizable forms. Shifted, yes, but most people still live in the same family structure as one hundred years ago. Women worked then, but not as often as their husbands.
It’s making me understand the whole mundane SF movement a little more. It’s not that I have less fascination with deep space colonies, it’s just realizing that it’s much, much farther away than I’d like to think it is.
So, I’m re-examining my SF now, taking trends from the past and trying to project them from today forward instead of just thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if?” I mean, what was the last SF story you saw that had any form of social networking? Darn few of them, aren’t there. They exist, but that part of our present doesn’t show up as often in the future as FTL.
Can you imagine a murder-mystery where the serial killer Twitters?