If most near-future scifi is anything to go by we are basically all screwed.
Every conceivable outcome is typically grim and unpleasant, or if it looks pleasant – maybe even utopian – then it is likely grim and unpleasant underneath. A great deal of outstanding science fiction has been produced under the banner of imminent dystopia, but it does beg the question as to why we feel the need to predict such unhappy futures for our species.
Much like the horror genre, we like to be shocked and scared rather than reassured. The thrill and adrenaline delivered by a good story well told usually rides on the back of bad news better than any other beast. Delving into a scary story, whatever the genre or medium, leaves the reader/viewer with a sense of relief when they step out, blinking, into the sunlight.
To consider an awful future, however imminent, always makes the present that much brighter.
And it doesn’t stop fascinating the best of us because when you’re dealing with near-future scifi you often get a juicy bit of storytelling to chew on as well, maybe even a little political sauce to go with it. Liberating and thought provoking? Yes please.
So why am I commenting on this with such artless contrivance?
Because I have invested the last three years in full-on distant-future scifi and am only now, as I stand between books one and two of the Control trilogy, considering an aspect of scifi that has always fascinated me. The terror of imminent disaster, the opportunity to play God with our own, familiar and comfortable world is all too tempting and as I spend time building the structure of book two I am finding the time and the urge to create a near-future horror show of my own.
All I’ll say is watch out Manhattan.