R2’s Day: Prognostication and SF

Republibot 2.0

Yes. I’m putting off the Doctor Who Christmas Special one more week. Maybe two. It will still be there when we get to it. It’s not going anywhere.
Actually, that may sum up my thoughts on it…

ANYway. Frequently, we authors of speculative fiction are frequently called upon to predict the future, even though that’s not what we’re about. I mean, I understand that you may mistake ‘speculative’ for ‘speculate’ (or ‘spectacle’ or even ‘speculum’) We are incorrectly identified as ‘Visionary’, even when (or especially when) our vision consists of projecting a single aspect of modern life to the point of absurdity.

A single aspect taken to absurdity.

Yet, somehow, S-F authors are expected to have some line on the future. I just read a bit by Isaac Asimov where he predicts life in 2014. http://www.openculture.com/2014/01/isaac-asimov-predicts-what-the-world-...

(Arthur C. Clarke did one too, it’s linked in that article. I don’t feel like blowing the electrons on it.)

In any case, Isaac collected a paycheck for some pretty pointless woolgathering. He got some right, surprisingly so given his predilections.

• ““Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”
• “[M]ankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014.”
• “Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica.”

I kind of want to focus a bit on that first one—Asimov was known for his robot stories, but he predicted that robots wouldn’t be that big a deal… at least not in the far off world of 2014. This was pretty much an admission that his claim to fame didn’t even figure in long range predictions….

In other words… why are you asking an S-F writer to predict the future?

Oh yeah. That whole paycheck thing.

So, what are your predictions for 2014? I predict that we still won’t have that flying car or jetpack in every garage….