Is Science Fiction Dying?

William Gibson on “Is Science Fiction Dying?” [via CoreDump and New Scientist]:

The single most useful thing I’ve learned from science fiction is that every present moment, always, is someone else’s past and someone else’s future. I got that as a child in the 1950s, reading science fiction written in the 1940s; reading it before I actually knew much of anything about the history of the 1940s or, really, about history at all. I literally had to infer the fact of the second world war, reverse-engineering my first personal iteration of 20th-century history out of 1940s science fiction. I grew up in a monoculture – one I found highly problematic – and science fiction afforded me a degree of lifesaving cultural perspective I’d never have had otherwise. I hope it’s still doing that, for people who need it that way, but these days lots of other things are doing that as well.

A few years out from discovering Heinlein’s Future History chart, I adopted, as a complete no-brainer, J G Ballard’s dictum that “Earth is the alien planet”, that the future is pretty much now. Outer space (as far as science fiction went) became metaphorical. Became inner space.

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