Its first projects include a collaboration with the chip maker Intel, which has created a Tomorrow Project to generate “science-based” conversations about the future. The center will collaborate with (cyberpunk author Neal) Stephenson’s online science fiction journal, Hieroglyph, also based at Arizona State, whose mission is to help foster a “moon shot” culture to promote ambitious ideas for scientific and technological projects.
The novelist has been working with an Arizona State structural engineer, Keith Hjelmstad, on an idea that sounds like science fiction: a 12-mile tower to launch vehicles into space. Another author, Cory Doctorow, is working with Kip Hodges, the university’s director of earth and space exploration, on a story idea about sending 3-D printers to the moon to begin manufacturing things from moon dust.
As others have before, Neal Stephenson bemoaned the dystopian visions of the future generated by today’s science fiction writers. Ambitious science and technology endeavors are a thing of the past, he said at a technology conference, and American society has lost the vision to make great leaps into the future.
ASU President Dr. Michael Crow thought that the fault, to some extent, lay with the creators and fans of science fiction for failing to think ambitiously and optimistically about the future.
Is it up to SF writers to inspire scientists, or is it the other way around? Has science failed to give us something to hope for? Or is it, as some have contended, that writers are unable to keep up with the lightning fast pace of technological change and it’s just too difficult to create a realistic and positive vision of the future?
J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012). Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.