Thursday, October 27, 2011

Announcing Dispatches from Next Year

Reverse Disclaimer: I'm not a Stephenson fanboy. In fact, I've only started to read two of his books, which seemed really good, but ended up on the wrong of work or school scheduling problems and have had to return to the libraries from whence they came far too early.

Famed science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson wrote a huge, huge article for World Policy in which he faults modern science fiction for not being idealistic enough. His basic argument is thus: Modern state actors refuse to take scientific risks on the order of those of the Space Race. This is in part due to cynical, negative-effects-based sci-fi. His basis for this is simple: back in the day, we wrote epic science fiction, with space, physical or cyber-, stretched out before us as a new world. That's much less the case now.

"The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules," Stephenson says. "It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it."

It's in that vein that I'm announcing my new sub-blog (yeah, I'm definitely running with too many irons in the fire). It's called Dispatches from Next Year, and the concept is this: Each Dispatch will be a commentary on the very near future, given the technologies, social movements, and politics of today. Each Dispatch will have a grain of the open possibility of tomorrow—fantastic, alien, and reachable.