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Where Has All The Sci-Fi Gone?

Our Future: Thoughts talks about how rapid technological change is outpacing scinece fiction when it asks: Where has all the Sci-Fi gone?

Where has all the science fiction gone? Well, it would appear that we are living in it. Many futurists such as Ray Kurzweil believe that fiction writers are no longer able to think beyond the predicted “technological singularity” that many believe will occur in or around 2030. That is to say that the human mind can no longer comprehend how life could be beyond the next thirty years when taking into account the advancements we have made in the past few decades. Think back to the sci-fi greats of the past and how most of the technology seems antiquated and obsolete now. Even Star Trek, arguably the biggest science fiction phenomenon of all time, seems to have missed the mark by several hundred years in its predictive power. The thing is though that the writers were off because a lot of the technology came about faster than they predicted not because they were not imaginative. The fact that many technologies predicted by Science Fiction to be hundreds of years out is now with us is due in large part to the law of accelerating returns

About John DeNardo (13014 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on Where Has All The Sci-Fi Gone?

  1. This conversation starter runs amok all across the science fiction blogiverse. It’s not the job of science fiction to predict the future. Science fiction’s obligation is to fiction, not science.

    Fiction consists of millions of simulations (stories) which help humankind understand itself. “What would I do in a situation like that?” “If I did that, what would happen to me?” “That guy acted like a complete ass, I hope he gets his comeuppance!” It serves one of the most basic needs of human beings, the exploration of themselves and others as they interact with one another. Fiction is a brother to gossip, but throws the net of possibilities much more widely.

    Science Fiction goes wider still, exploring human actions, interactions and reactions in situations that cannot happen in the current reality due to technological limitations. The speculation is fun. It isn’t meant to predict.

    Occasionally, from the tens of thousands of science fiction stories that have been written, a speculated technology might come to pass in reality and we gasp and assign “genius” labels to the writer. This is how astrology works too.

    We are not running out of ideas in science fiction. The future is not closing in to clamp shut upon us and create a nightmare of forever present. What is happening is the fruition of extremely tired science fiction tropes, beaten to death in literature and film. Films dominate American popular culture and the studios won’t bank on ideas that are too outlandish. We’ve strapped ourselves to the wrecking ball weight of our past good ideas and we don’t want to be set free because the unknown is too uncomfortable. Then we marvel at how science-fictiony our lives have become when capitalism catches up with ideas that were new decades ago. “Hey look, I’ve got a PC and a cellphone! I’m living Star Trek!”

    There are thousands of ideas out there in science fiction literature that have not yet popped into existence. More are being created every day. The human imagination is unlimited. There are even ideas that might confuse a television audience. But don’t worry, they’ll catch up when today’s ideas are adapted for the mass media audiences twenty years hence. They’ll seem new to the public then.

    I’m astounded that science fictional folk like ourselves get drawn into these conversations when we’re the people that are reading about the fresh ideas on an almost daily basis. We know the score. We know the reality. Why are we feeding the Big Media Bimbos?

    And one last thing: If the future is here, then where the fuck is my flying car?

  2. I think it is all about money, it would be easy enough to start a modern day scifi adventure, visiting distant planets and meeting interesting “aliens” We could have sci fi shows that blew away the previous genres.
    Sadly i think the imagination rather than not being able to see sci fi future tech, they see too much and this results in very high cost of cgi and developing settings fast …If you go back to star trek and watch a few of the first episodes you will see how silly it looks, rocks painted purple and the ground covered in diamond like stones was easy enough to do, but these days nobody is really going to be impressed with that.
    What we need are good stories, there are many of them out there, and some imaginative scene designs that dont cost millions to render for a few minutes airtime.

    Once cgi has dropped in cost and i mean dropped so far that it costs a few thousand instead of millions then i suspect we will see more and more sci fi.

    The software used to create cgi is evolving almost daily and becoming simpler and simpler to use. Where it took months to do something 5 years ago it takes a few minutes now.

    Hopefully the studios will get to see some good pilots over the next few years and hopefully they will see the common sense in providing what people want….

    Just look at the merchandising , the comic con and sci fi shows that are attended by tens of millions a year.

    If the studios do not start doing something soon i suspect the fans will start coming up with good ideas and developing tv shows that are aired around the world on the internet for free, created by fans and paid for by fans.

    Then the tv channels can buy the licence to air them for the millions they pay for stupid programs that have no or very low levels of support from the public.

    And if you think what i am writing is rubbish just look at the reddit created movie that is being made by a studio, or the tv shows that started out as internet 15 minute clips.

    Sadly the studios are not really interested in providing content the people want to see, firefly being an excellent example of studios refusing to give what people want. The sci fi genre includes almost everyone, from young to old we all love a good sci fi show….just look how popular Stargate was before they yanked it from the air, after giving it to a producer that did not know anything about how to create sci fi that grabbed your attention.

    Sorry for my rambling , i guess i get riled up when i see things on tv that we all know is rubbish being aired for years, with very few people watching.
    I suspect this is why a great part of the population does not watch tv any more but download any content they think looks good from the internet.

    If the studios are not careful and do not provide the content the 16-45 year olds want to watch they are going to lose subscribers to cable faster and faster each year , and once they hit the threshold where the majority get all of their content from the internet it will be very hard and very expensive to try to encourage them to return to basic broadcast tv.

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