I really enjoyed the recent GOP debate. It had the highest LPMs (Laughs Per Minute) of any Presidential debate in history. But after the laughs, it must have been depressing to see your fellow humans campaigning to get rid of environmental protections and your EPA.
If my human emotions ruled me, I would be very depressed about the future of America right now. Fortunately my rational, logical, activist side is in control, so I’m fine.
When I see tiny humans being poisoned, with no urgent steps taken to solve the problem, I wonder, “What is wrong with you humans?” Even the Borg protect their babies!
Fortunately, there are humans who are working to solve your problems and help others. Some of these people have a more optimistic view of the future than others, so when dark headlines fill my tricorder, I find them to listen to, read and watch. One of them is Hugo awarding-winning author Charlie Jane Anders.When you poison your own people, deny the science that shows the problem and then don’t race to fix it–the Galactic community wonders if classifying humans as sentient was the right move.
Last week I went to Kelper’s Books in Menlo Park, California to listen to my friend Angie Corio interview Anders.
Charlie Jane talked about her new book “All The Birds In The Sky,” She also talked about writing, science fiction on TV and in movies and her job as editor-in-chief at the science, science fiction and fantasy site io9.com. I was especially interested in her work a few years ago on Project Hieroglyph and the anthology that came out of it.
“This anthology unites twenty of today’s leading thinkers, writers, and visionaries—among them Cory Doctorow, Gregory Benford, Elizabeth Bear, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson—to contribute works of “techno-optimism” that challenge us to dream and do Big Stuff.”
I’ve read lots of apocalyptic science fiction so I asked her, “I’m glad you are optimistic about the future. Why is so much scifi distopic and dark? What role does science fiction play in setting a tone for the future?” She made three main points:
- There are fads in science fiction, this is one. Hunger Games made a lot of money so they make more.
- If you are trying to think realistically about our near to medium future, there are reasons to be pessimistic. If you deny that you are writing fantasy, not science fiction.
- We will figure this out. Being optimistic doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand, or assuming we’ll invent new technology to easily solve the problems. She talked about creating her short story, The Day it All Ended, where things got really bad because of climate change.For that story she talked to scientists about solutions and what we can do to mitigate the damage, such as how to sequester carbon from the air in a way that is safe and makes sense.
In my view the importance of showing a positive view of the future cannot be understated. In the Star Trek universe we saw how technology could destroy, but also create. We saw the benefits of diversity where humans of multiple races and genders worked with aliens. (In this case aliens from other planets, not countries–bonk bonk on the head with the message Gene.)
The show had stories of people working together with a common goal of discovery and exploration. It was important then, and is now, to see a future in which we don’t destroy our planet and our species.
We can survive and thrive in the future, not only by inventing and using new technology, but by finding and supporting the people who fight for–and write about–a brighter future.