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Friday, May 1, 2009

Future of Science Fiction--Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling is a science fiction writer of note who helped define cyberpunk. If you visit the Wikipedia article about him you'll see the broad range of his interests. So he is a good choice to look at science fiction past, present and future, both outside and inside the box. Two themes at least emerge from this introspection: the limitations of the media conveying the fiction and the limitations--often self imposed--of the providers and consumers of science fiction.

What science fiction’s user base truly desired was not possible in the 1930s. Believing their own rhetoric, science fiction users supposed that they wanted a jet-propelled, atomic futurity. Whenever offered the chance at such goods and services, they never left science fiction to go get them. They didn’t genuinely want such things-not in real life....What the user base genuinely wanted was immersive fantasies.

Bruce goes further back than that...perhaps to the first known work of fiction, a collection of writings written in a Japanese womens' script for Japanese womens' consumption. From there, he goes to Worlds of Warcraft where consumers of this scripted game spend far more hours than any reader of books would.

In essence, the article is a challenge to writers to push past the limits of the present media. To write out of the box while thinking introspectively about the box. Here is the article, which interestingly appears in a newsletter associated with a renowned professional organization, the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery).

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