I opened my computer recently to find an article about the actor, John Malkovich. His latest commercial, it said, won’t be released for 100 years. A snippet of the film provided shows the actor placing a bottle of perfume in a vault, then locking it. In the next frame, presumably 100 years later, the actor reappears. This time he’s wearing samurai robes. Beside him is a female companion, dressed in skin-fitting clothes and ready to face danger in 6 inch stilettos. Nothing futuristic about that. But in 100 years, I suspect the world will be ruled by women and the commercial will be banned because it demeans females. (Click) Well, that’s my view of the future, anyway.
Science fiction is a writer’s vehicle to project into the future concerns he or she feels about the present. For many years, George Orwell’s 1984 has been the touchstone which democratic societies use to measure their evolution, depending upon how near or how far they stand in relationship to his dystopian world.
Writer Jeff Heer speculates the pervasive darkness in the genre after 2008 stems from Wall Street’s near economic collapse and the looming reality of climate change. “…nobody believes in capitalism in the way they used to…denial of climate change per se is pretty much gone away…” (“The New Utopians,” by Jeff Heer, New Republic, December 2015, pg. 49.)
The question before futuristic diviners is how to project trends in a way that will invite change for the better. Usually, readers are warned about the dangerous consequences of these trends. Unfortunately, bad events don’t always unite people behind a higher purpose. After the devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ oligarchy used the reconstruction money to clean out slums previously occupied by the poor and build high priced real estate — a plan that guaranteed the displaced would be unable to return to the homes from which they fled. (Ibid Pg. 51.)
A few science fiction writers have struggled against dystopian scenarios, preferring to create visions of human potential. Terry Bisson, Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula Le Guin are prime examples. Of late, their numbers have grown. As Heer describes them, these new Utopians are “a ragtag band of freelance futurists and science fiction writers [who] have argued that we have an obligation to imagine positive futures where plausible technologies give us practical green solutions.” (Ibid pg. 51.) As yet there is no substantial body of literature behind them, but their work can be found on social network sites, like Tumblr. Artist Olivia Louise is one who gives us visual glimpses of a better world. (Ibid pg. 51)
What doesn’t surprise me is that among these new visionaries are several women. (Blog 12/17/15)) Or maybe that fact should surprise no one. Year ago, we were given a glimpse of the future, and it is SHE. (Click)