4 near future dilemmas that are ripe for (more) speculative fiction

One of the things I wanted to do on this blog was look at how speculative fiction is shaping the future and how the future is shaping speculative fiction. When I wrote that I hadn’t fully appreciated the scope of that thought. I’m overwhelmed by it now, and I find it difficult to quantify but still intriguing. So now I’m starting to catalogue some ideas about the near future that I think make up the primary challenges headed our way. I want to eventually collect and note works of science fiction, horror, fantasy, even mainstream fiction that reflect or illuminate these issues.

Here are four near future challenges that interest me both in my day-to-day existence and in my writerly imagination.

1. The growing tension between the evolving global economy and the rise of the machines. If things go well, one day we might hail this period as the one where labor was freed along with capital, global economic equilibrium was achieved, we’re all super creative entrepreneurs, and there are no more phone contracts. If things go badly, we might remember this period as the one where the notion of progress was thoroughly discredited and humanity wound up divided into the haves and have nots with both camps having robot armies and neither camp having a sense of purpose. (I hear Janice singing “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose….” in the back of my head.) A very interesting discussion about this dynamic recently aired on “On Point with Tom Ashbrook.” Continue reading

April’s short story comes from the well of worries about altering humans / El cuento de abril viene de una variedad de preocupaciones acerca de la modificación de humanos

This month’s short story “Mods” came to me in one setting. Let me be clear, this is incredibly rare. Of course, actually writing it and attempting to edit myself took a little longer, but wow, I love it when the concept appears whole like a newborn baby. Ten fingers, ten toes.

And writing of babies–some recent discussions about the pro-choice/pro-life debate were part of what inspired this story. I’ve been on the pro-choice end of the political spectrum, but I have been wondering how the longterm consequences of this position might spin out, especially now with so many new surgical techniques to address serious injuries and extend life. Genetic research is racing along, too, and recently scientists announced that we can now edit the human germline, which means we have the ability to pass along altered genomes to our offspring and descendants forevermore. This, I understand, is a significantly different situation from previous work editing somatic (nonreproductive) cells.

It seems to me that we’re not entirely ready to think carefully about consequences, and we’re just reassuring ourselves about going forward by calling every possibility a “choice.” Where do we go for guidance? Shouldn’t there be public discussion of issues as important as this? This troubles me more and more, even though I value the potential benefits of scientific discovery, and I certainly don’t want big brother, little mother and the god-fearing to dictate what I can do with my body. So there you have it. A quandary. And quandaries are a rich source of speculative fiction.

EspanolEl cuento de este mes, “Mods“, vino a mí en una sentada. Seamos claros, esto es increíblemente raro. Obviamente, escribirlo e intentar editarme a mí misma me tomó más tiempo, pero wow, me encanta cuando el concepto aparece como un bebé recién nacido. Diez dedos en las manos y diez en los pies. Continue reading