Futurist thought for the day

The future is not mere space. This is where I part company with a whole variety of science fiction, the imperialistic kind, as seen in all the Space Wars and Star Wars novels and films and the whole branch of sf that reduces technology to hi-tech. In such fictions, space and the future are synonymous: they are a place we are going to get to, invade colonize, exploit, and suburbanize.

If we do “get to” space, it’s not unlikely that we will “conquer” space. But it is not possible that we will “conquer” the future, because there is no way we can get there. The future is the part of the spacetime continuum from which – in the body and in ordinary states of consciousness – we are excluded. We can’t even see it….

When we look at what we can’t see, what we do see is the stuff inside our heads…

Ursula  le Guin, in a small essay on Science Fiction and the Future, dated 1985. A sensible sentiment still, even though since then (I think) the trope of “colonising the future” has gained some currency as a critique of certain style of managing contemporary affairs.

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One Comment on “Futurist thought for the day”

  1. keithmansfield Says:

    For me the interesting thing, that ULG doesn’t pick up on here, is that we can get to the future at very different rates. If a society develops the ability to travel at relativistic speeds, or is able to power itself using black holes, it offers the possibility of a strategy for reaching the future.
    Is it better to plod along at 1 second per second, or would the future be brighter if we jumped 100 years hence, or a thousand, or a million? Should society hedge its bets and organize to have citizens reaching the future at different rates? Is it fair to those left behind? And, like an epic game of pontoon, if you go too far you could end up bust with no chance of ever getting home…

    Good luck with the book, Jon.


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