What Is It With You And Science Fiction?

Disney's TOMORROWLAND Tomorrowland Ph: Film Frame ©Disney 2015

You see that title up there, right? My dad asked me that once.  Maybe you know somebody – maybe you are somebody – that relates to the question. What on earth does the sort of thing those people dream about have to do with real life? I mean, you can find bajillions of romance and self-help titles, no end of action movies and romantic comedies. A better life. A way out. Love. Who couldn’t relate to those things? But when a stranger stands there with a cocktail in their hand asking what your “sci fi” book is about, just go ahead and watch that look on her face.

I did a fanboy thing the other day that I want to tell you about, then I’ll come back to this question. They’re related, believe it or not.

A while back, I read Lady Of Mazes by Karl Schroeder and thought it was meh. Then I read another one of his called Sun Of Suns and wrote about it, a little more impressed. Then I read the sequel. Not even kidding – a year went by; and the ideas from that first book are still kicking around in my head, simmering like vegetable soup.  I just finished Ventus; and I’m sold on this guy’s brain. He thinks big. I really like people that think big. Here’s how he describes his job:

“…both an analyst of future trends and a communicator, using articles, fiction, presentations and even games to show what might be possible, and where we might be headed.”

I don’t get much value out of Twitter but it’s there, so…you know…I found him there. Dropped him a note saying his book was getting me through some boring flights. And he answered, said something plain vanilla like, “Glad you liked it. I loved writing that book!” And I thought that was maybe a little more awesome than you do. Still, this idea of a guy who churns away all day, trying to extrapolate where blockchain technology or future forms of government may go…with the wild ideas Schroeder has…that’s exciting to me. He got me thinking about the power of science fiction to warn us and to inspire us, and its highest mission – to lay out the vision so we know which way to go.

Somewhere in my stacks, I’ve got a dorky book written by William Shatner where he traveled around and interviewed a bunch of cutting edge scientists working on the latest technology and innovations, and found a bunch of starry-eyed swooners who told him Star Trek was the reason they got into what they did. And yes, I went for the pun.  Something very much like that is what I told my dad, by the way.

Anyway, I noticed that Schroeder has been invited to participate in something called the Science Fiction Advisory Council. You can read a little more about it here. And that is what’s right with the world. The point is to bring these smart, imaginative thinkers together and generate content to inform and project what may happen in different sectors like government, energy production & distribution, health and technology, and the environment. They’ll be meeting quarterly either in person or virtually.

Here are the folks joining up with him – see if you can find your favorite:

CaptureThe first project will be stories launching from a Tokyo-San Francisco flight that mysteriously appears 20 years in the future.

So go read Karl Schroeder and mull over the gargantuan ‘archipelago’ he dreamed up, figure out what “thalience” means, and imagine a world where people access augmented reality and personal scenario simulations at will or even send simulations of themselves off to deal with life while they fritter away sipping pina colada or whatever. He’s worth your time if you’re into dreaming big.

And drop me a note with what area you’d focus on if you were to join this council. Tell me about your future.