Locus Online has posted Cory Doctorow’s bi-monthly Locus magazine article, this month titled The Progressive Apocalypse and Other Futurismic Delights. Cory talks about futurism, the Singularity, and the Apocalypse and also how the past and future is jaded by the present. Here’s a snippet:
There’s a lovely neologism to describe these visions: “futurismic.” Futurismic media is that which depicts futurism, not the future. It is often self-serving — think of the antigrav Nikes in Back to the Future III — and it generally doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny.
SF films and TV are great fonts of futurismic imagery: R2D2 is a fully conscious AI, can hack the firewall of the Death Star, and is equipped with a range of holographic projectors and antipersonnel devices — but no one has installed a $15 sound card and some text-to-speech software on him, so he has to whistle like Harpo Marx. Or take the Starship Enterprise, with a transporter capable of constituting matter from digitally stored plans, and radios that can breach the speed of light.
The non-futurismic version of NCC-1701 would be the size of a softball (or whatever the minimum size for a warp drive, transporter, and subspace radio would be). It would zip around the galaxy at FTL speeds under remote control. When it reached an interesting planet, it would beam a stored copy of a landing party onto the surface, and when their mission was over, it would beam them back into storage, annihilating their physical selves until they reached the next stopping point. If a member of the landing party were eaten by a green-skinned interspatial hippie or giant toga-wearing galactic tyrant, that member would be recovered from backup by the transporter beam. Hell, the entire landing party could consist of multiple copies of the most effective crewmember onboard: no redshirts, just a half-dozen instances of Kirk operating in clonal harmony.