We live in the beyond past Science Fiction…
Posted by shannonclark on August 1, 2011
|We live in the beyond past Science FictionI am a science fiction fan. What is more I was, perhaps still am a member of the subset of SF Fans who are SMOFs (“Secret Masters of Fandom” i.e. the folks who organize and run science fiction conventions – I started a new science fiction convention over 20 years ago at my high school which as far as a I know is still happening once a year and I used to help volunteer at and helped fun other local to Chicago SF conventions).But I fear that Science Fiction Fandom thinks far too small these days and that SF Fans as self-defined, have not, in most cases, kept up with a world which has surpassed the imagination of our past futurists.
A small example of this – a bunch of great SF writers and fans have launched The World SF Travel Fund (see http://peerbackers.com/projects/the-world-sf-travel-fund/) but note the highly limited scope of their imagination.
One Fan each year to One Science Fiction convention.
$6000 for two years of running the fund (i.e. implying $3000/award which seems about right)
The “World” Science Fiction conventions, one of the oldest science fiction conventions still happening now draw between 2000-6000 people each year depending on where it is held (the lower numbers in years when it is held outside of the US, the larger numbers when it is held in a major US city).
But at the same time conventions such as San Diego ComicCon, PAX Prime and PAX East sell out every single year and attract 125k+ attendees (in the case of ComicCon). These are massive events with the participation of many of the largest media companies in the world.
At the box office SF and Fantasy films dominate every year with billions of box office (and billions more in other revenues). Likewise while there are hit computer games that aren’t SF (EA Sports franchises, Rock Band etc) many of the biggest and most profitable franchise in gaming have SF or Fantasy elements – the over $1B/year World of Warcraft franchise, HALO, Diablo, Starcraft and countless others.
And leaving media and entertainment aside (I haven’t even mentioned the billions more in revenues from SF or Fantasy TV series over the years) we ourselves live in a world surrounded by real gadgets and experiences unimagined by most of our fiction, especially most of our Science Fiction, of the past decades.
A few examples
1) Everything Apple makes – the iPhone, the iPad, the AppleTV, the MacBook Air. All woven together in ways that dwarf the imaginations even of the 1980’s and 90’s “cyberpunks” and with capabilities in excess even of the perhaps original inspirations such as the Star Trek PADD (see http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-trek-padd/id446277240?mt=8 to turn your iPad into a version of one) or the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – see Wikipedia there…
2) Sometime earlier this year the number of cell phones globally hit over 5 Billion. That means that over 2/3rds of the planet likely has a cell phone (there are many people who have more than one phone so the exact # without a phone is hard to estimate). The societal, cultural and economic impact of that has yes to be explored – but the reality of this is something few writers have explored in our fiction (indeed most fiction – whether “science fiction” or “serious” rarely is written set in our current world – few characters have cell phones, smartphones etc)
3) Global logistics. This is the not-so-sexy stuff that allows you to place an order in CA on the weekend and get product from halfway across the planet delivered in the middle of the afternoon to your doorstep less than a week later. This is what allows you to order a customized piece of electronics, a made-to-order car, even entire homes or in the case of San Francisco most of a bridge to be built across the planet and shipped as needed.This is what ties businesses, people and countries together. This isn’t sexy and rarely is acknowledged in fiction but this is what has changed the planet in the past few decades (along with the Internet in the past two decades)
and there is much more