Monday, July 6, 2009

RJS guest blogs in Boders SF blog

I'm the guest blogger for July 2009 in Borders Books's science-fiction blog "Babel Clash," co-sponsored by i09. My first post -- my opening salvo, if you will -- is over there, and also posted below, but I'm turning off comments on this topic here; come on over to and chime in there!
Time has a way of catching up with you. My novel FlashForward was first published in 1999, and was set in the then-distant year of 2009 -- starting in April, to be precise.

Well, now the future is here: reality has caught up with what I had to say. Some things I got right (the new pope did take the name Benedict XVI!) and some things I got wrong. Was it gutsy, or foolhardy, to set a book so close to the present day?

What about my current novel, WWW: Wake? That one is set only three years from now -- surely I'm courting disaster with such a near-future setting? (And other books, such as my Hugo Award-winning Hominids, were set in the year they were published -- 2002, in that case.)

I've heard some other writers say it's impossible to write near-future SF anymore -- because science and technology (not to mention the political and social landscape) change so quickly, you're bound to be proven wrong. Those writers seem to prefer the far-future.

But I find that most modern far-future SF doesn't interest me. When you wave nanotech like a magic wand, when you invoke the technological singularity as an excuse for anything-goes, when it's all just a simulation (or a dream), I find I just don't care.

I think science fiction's greatest strength is its ability to comment on the here-and-now, and, well, for that, there's no time -- or setting! -- like the present.

Okay, that's where I'm coming from on this. What do you all think? Would you rather read about A.D. 2010 or A.D. 2100 -- or maybe A.D. 21,000?

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