When Science Makes Fiction Obsolete

It used to be that you could write a novel and put it in a drawer for six to twelve months. In fact, that used to be recommended. Lately, you can’t stop for long at all before your science fiction just becomes the present.

NASA has just validated the principles behind an “impossible” space drive, one that produces thrust without propellant. It’s at the point that you can’t even write about impossible things without them becoming possible before you can turn around. Science is backing science fictions writers further into a corner every day.

The future of our pasts has already come and gone for most of us. Flip phones, vat-grown meat, fungus-based proteins, and datapads are here—some are long-since out of fashion. We even have the beginnings of teleportation in the laboratory. Inhabited planets, well, we’ve got one other than Earth now. Sure, it’s just inhabited by our own robots…just…our own robots. We colonized Mars with robots in an age in which we can control robots with our minds—that’s pretty close to colonized. What’s going to happen to science fiction when science outwrites the best of us?

I suppose we could just give up and write speculative fiction. Or perhaps that’s what science fiction is going to look like once we’ve reached the stars—a more human science, a more realistic fiction. Maybe humanity will turn its efforts to the other aspects of the future we imagined in the past: enough food for all, peace between nations, pollutant-free power, racial equality, and a pristine Earth.

That’s something we explore in our Pandora Project series, which we’re back to writing, that future and beyond it. Humanity has reached the stars, made peace with itself, turned Earth over to the care of a fraction of the population best suited to maintain its health and harmony. But is that utopian future as perfect as it wants to believe? What happens when humans themselves are still the same, flawed creatures as the ones once who wreaked so much havoc? What happens when the narrative of the perfect Golden Age is given priority over the reality affecting the people living in it?

Until next time,
Anah Crow & Dianne Fox

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