Category The Future

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, […]

What Will They Think of Next?

A torus is a shape that crops up often in science fiction, when space stations and other creations—like the Halo of the eponymous video game—are imagined. Basically, it’s a very big donut, which seems to be an open invitation to snacking by space creatures but it’s been a popular idea all along. Now, apparently, someone’s […]

Future Ethics 2 — Changing Minds

The future is now. And the ethical implications are…uncertain. We’re on the verge of literally being able to change people’s minds in the here and now. There are new medications—or new uses for medications—that will allow people to change how memory and trauma affect them. Anti-depressants already alter the chemistry of our brains for better […]

Future Ethics — The Past

The future is already here in many ways, bringing us ethical challenges that make for fantastic stories and gripping conflicts, both now and in the distant future. Some of those issues have been explored in blockbusters such as Jurassic Park, which speculates about a present in which science has outstripped present progress. Bringing back the […]

AI: Friends or Enemies

The term ‘robot’ was first used in R.U.R. or Rossum’s Universal Robots by writer Karel Čapek—robota means “forced labour” in Czech. In their very first outing in science fiction, robots—in this case, semi-organic, intelligent, manufactured creatures—don’t behave very well. They rise up, overthrow their human overlords, and set fire to civilization. Not a great start. […]

Eureka! A little retro revival…

If my resolution this year was to “remember when I’m supposed to blog” I’ve already failed! But this week, I remembered… a few minutes ago. I haven’t read a lot of sci-fi books or watched a lot of movies lately – between the holidays, a sick cat and two deadlines, I’ve been busy, busy, busy. […]

In the Future: Holidays in Space!

Humans developed holy days and rituals around the observable events and changes in their environment—solstice and equinox, the passing of comets, the changing of seasons, the migration of animals. When we go to space, we’ll be leaving behind us everything that made for the underpinnings of our social ritual. Will those things mean more or […]

In the Future: Seasons of Change

In half the world it’s turning from fall into winter and in the other half it’s getting ready for the furnace blast of summer. The seasons have been a vital part of being human since long before we began recording what it’s like to be the odd creatures that we are. Our lives are marked […]

In the Future: The Big Sleep

One of the big barriers to space travel for humans is…well, being human. That’s a common theme in movies about interstellar travel. We get bored. We stab each other in the back. We go crazy. But no matter how we get out there, the trip is going to be a long one—and the moment it’s […]

In the Future: Machines

A whole swath of science fiction is dedicated to the future of machines and their relationship with human beings,. Even machines without their own innate intellect have a special relationship with us both now and in the future. In the cinemas right now, Pacific Rim is making its mark with huge machines—interfaced with humans—saving the […]