Friday, December 12, 2008

Fact And Fiction

Read a nice article that tries to tackle the question of the future of science fiction and if it will even survive. The argument goes as follows : is going to be even harder for science fiction writers to predict the technological developments which will transform our lives. Science fiction, claim the doomsayers, is dead - or, if not dead, in terminal decline.

Sci-fi is not my thing and I have read precious little of it - The Time Machine, The Left Hand of Darkness and Yargo are the only three I can remember having enjoyed. I heard about Repo ! on NPR recently and thought idea of organ repossession in the event of failing to pay the installments was particularly poignant these days. Yet, most of the punditry were dead wrong about the financial meltdown that is unfolding around us today, even a year ago - they just did not see it coming. Why then is it such a bad thing that sci-fi did not see the transistor coming and all the changes it brought in its wake ?

If the unthinkable did happen and homes can get repossessed why not organs. Only in sci-fi can your transplanted kidney go they way of your foreclosed home but there is no reason to believe fact will not catch up or even get ahead of fiction. It is much like Ursula K Le Guin's response to the question posed by Marcus Chown's article :

The distinction between science fiction and realism was never as clear as the genre snobs wanted it to be. I rejoice to think that both terms are already largely historical; they are moulds from which literature is breaking free, as it always does, to find new forms.

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