Near future fiction

Still revising book text solidly, but holiday reading ranged a little wider so…

One of the great things about literature is that as soon as you frame a generalisation it seems to spawn counter-examples. I’ve been tempted to buy into the assertion – which has been made by a few different people now – that there is no longer any (decent?) science fiction set in the near future. Reasons advanced include that too much of the stuff of earlier science fictions has come (sort-of) true, and loss of faith in a near future which isn’t deeply depressing. Not sure I really believe either of those, but there did seem to be a retreat into far futures, alternate realities or (oh, the tedium) outright fantasy.

Then along comes Ian MacDonald with Brasyl, another stunningly good near future novel to follow the remarkable River of Gods. Well, it appeared a couple of years ago but I only just laid eyes on it. It matches River of Gods’ near future India with a brilliant depiction of Brazil in 2032. The near future bit is enriched by the braiding of two other narratives in the (2006) present and the (18th century) past, and by some alternate universes in which the near future is different – but that only adds to the interest. I’m not going to summarise, or say what the book is “about”, but it is definitely an effective demolition of any “no near future SF any more” claims.

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One Comment on “Near future fiction”

  1. jonturney Says:

    BTW, it gets more complicated toward the end, with so many of the many worlds the plot almost trips up over the usual hazard of getting too far into quantum stuff: it turns into magic, and is thus drained of narrative interest.


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