07.10.12

Why the best science fiction is about the present.

Wired's senior editor, Adam Rogers, loves postapocalyptic science fiction—not for the allure of eschatology, but because he thinks these stories are imminent. As he says in the video, we need "not stories set 20 years in the future, but to quote Max Headroom, 20 minutes in the future."

What used to be Mad Max knockoffs, largely, have mutated into skillful depictions of a world with a changing climate — the world of today, in other words. I’m thinking of Paolo Bacigalupi’s novels The Wind-Up Girl and Drowned Cities, and the new movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. They’re set in a time when all hope for saving the planet’s ecosystem is gone … yet the stories themselves somehow remain hopeful.

He finishes the video by saying, "I think that the point of predicting the future, sometimes, is so that we can change it." True, and to add, he also could be thinking of novels like David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, whose dystopia isn't a tech-riddled intergalactic adventure, but an alien U.S. that's more like today than we would like to think, considering the potentially deadly thing you're staring at. As to videogames, the forthcoming Watch Dogs, a gritty spy thriller set in nearly present Chicago, will hopefully follow suit.