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I had this idea in the shower after my bike ride today, kind of in a flash. So many of my favorite science fiction authors like to pick apart future worlds with future governments. There's a push in the science fiction world to have some future fiction that isn't depressing, that talks about futures we'd like to see. But if you read my G+ comments, you can see that not everyone agrees on what the future ought to look like, or at least how it ought to operate.

There are various sorts of futures that people talk about. Libertarian futures (read Vernor Vinge if you want the Libertarian Manifesto future, or Snow Crash if you want the post-revolutionary dystopian version). Communist futures (Ken McLeod, for instance). Too-cheap-to-meter futures (Charlie Stross did a good one in Glasshouse, and of course managed to turn it into a paranoid totalitarian fantasy). But in these stories, the authors are using the setting as a backdrop. That's good—you can't really have a story about a future government.

But what I want to see is for a bunch of my favorite authors to come up with stories set in their ideal future world, assuming that somehow we get to that world in, say, twenty years time. You can have innovations, if you can describe how they happened, but no undiscovered physics (e.g., ansibles), and the economics has to be plausible (e.g., no interstellar chemical rockets). It should be a future based on an ideology the author understands well, and can describe in a way that holds together and works as a setting for a real story. Short story to novella length, describe the homes of various characters and how they make a living (no time porn, thank you).That would be fun, I think, because it has been in the past, but that's not the twist. The twist is that then the authors who participate get to write stories in the future worlds of the other authors, and get to reframe them to point out the problems. So suppose someone writes a story that takes place in an anarcho-syndicalist utopia. Someone else writes a story that takes place in this same utopia, but from the perspective of someone for whom it is a dystopia, not a utopia. No throwing softballs, but the dystopian version has to add up.

Why would this be interesting? Because we hear all kinds of idealistic descriptions of how things ought to be run, but they're usually half-baked. And there are a number of authors writing now who I think have thought these things through to a significant degree, and could write good stories of the sort I'm describing. And because science fiction authors are better than any other sort of prognosticator I'm aware of at finding what's wrong with a scenario and writing an interesting story that illustrates the problem.

I don't know, maybe this is one of those ideas with a market of one. It might be interesting to run it up the flagpole on Kickstarter and see, though.

Comments

nickbarnes
Sep. 10th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
Picked up the new Neal Stephenson today....
tsennyipa
Sep. 10th, 2011 04:43 pm (UTC)
Reamde? I haven't gotten it yet, but am looking forward to reaming dit.
nickbarnes
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
Yes, and me too. Apparently it's not meant to go on sale for another ten days, but I went into Waterstones to get some things for Joe's birthday and they had a display.