Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Future Fiction

The future (or its close sibling, the parallel world/universe or a far off planet) has been one of the elements of science-fiction and fantasy (more of the former than the latter). Of course when writers write about the future, it's usually one of three possibilities:

  1. Society hasn't really changed, it's just the technology that has advanced (or in some cases, regressed).
  2. The future is either a dystopia or a post-apocalyptic world. On one end, some stories end with hope while others reinforce the bleakness of the world.
  3. The future is a utopia. More often than not, the utopia is an illusion and the story is really either #1 or #2. In some cases, the future truly is a utopia thanks to one social or technological innovation. (Of course right now, off the top of my head, I can't think of an utopian-utopia story. Any takers? The closest I can think of is Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers if it weren't for the fact that there's an alien invasion.)
I think what's tricky about writing "future fiction" is how it should engross the reader (some can call this making it believable, it can be reader sympathy, whatever) because obviously, something will be "off" when writing such fiction. It might be the flying automobiles that's jarring (well, perhaps nowadays, not so much), or fear of the Gestapo, or simply living in a virtual paradise. What I want to ask people is what's more believable to you: a dystopian story or an utopian one? (#1 isn't an option because that is the "status quo" unless you believe we're slowly moving towards either #2 or #3.) I think what would even be more interesting if there was some global poll for this, asking people from various countries which is more believable: that their country will eventually be a utopia or a dystopia?

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