The Future of Science Fiction isn’t on Earth


Banard 59, a part of the Pipe Nebulae. Credit ESO.

To those who read my post asking about what the point of science fiction is when so many inventions are already coming out, I have given it much thought since then. Is there a place for science fiction still in literature? Many of my dear friends who want nothing more than to encourage me have told me that good science fiction is about character and not tech. To a point, I agree with them. However, if the books I am writing already have the technology I envisioned out, then how are my books science fiction? Rather they are more like techno-thillers, and truth be told, I’m not a fan of techno-thrillers.

With lifelike androids just around the corner, flying cars being worked on, virtual reality already here, and computers everywhere many of these tropes now a reality. Look at the original Star Trek and you find that we already have computers with monitors, computer calls, and tricorders. Look at Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. We have shells that go into ears. We call them blue tooths and headphones. The virtual walls in Bradbury’s novel are like the interactive video games people play today. Look at Lary Niven’s Ringworld. He mentions e-books, but he doesn’t call them e-books. Nonetheless, they are screens people read books off of. I could go on and on. It seems like there is very little else to explore. Except for distant space travel. Notice, I used the term distant. It wouldn’t surprise me if we got colonies on our moon or on Mars during our lifetime. Heck! We may even have some research station orbiting Jupiter, for one reason or another. But for distance space travel? That’s another matter entirely.

We are still far away from warp drive if warp drive is even possible or wise. It’s true that the Hubble has peered far into the soul of the universe, but we still aren’t any closer to visiting these nebulas, setting foot on a planet in a different solar system (heck, I don’t even think we’ll set foot on Pluto within our own solar system in our lifetime), and seeing extraterrestrial life. The distance between us and these distant galaxies are like the distance between us and our current technology.

I already hear protesting over the other end of the keyboards and monitors. We’ll get there in our lifetime. Look at all the leaps and bounds we have made. I am willing to admit I could be wrong. Nothing wrong with that. But for the time being I am skeptical.

But my theory is we won’t travel to different galaxies and see different lifeforms in our lifetime. Therefore, at least in our lifetime, the science fiction of light speed and meeting extraterrestrial races will never feel dated. While we live on a world oversaturated with holograms, robotics, nanobots, and yes, even force fields, we will still be looking to the stars for our science fiction. That said, I am still going to finish my novel Cold Shades, but it will be one of the very few Earth-based science fiction books I write. The stars are calling me.


Finger of God in the Carina Nebula. Credit NASA and ESA.


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