Science Fiction? What Science Fiction?

Wow. John Schellenberg writes a whole hand-wringing article over at Aeon about how modern culture seems to accept “deep time” as a concept pertaining only to the past and not the future — and nowhere in the article is science fiction even mentioned. No Stapledon, no Stross, no Vinge. Not even Wells! And not even a dismissive comment like “Oh sure, sci-fi folks may do this, but when it comes to serious inquiry blah blah blah…” It’s as if the whole undertaking of SF simply never existed.

It’s almost like an ironic short story about an alternate universe where Western culture has no tradition of imagining the future. I was expecting it to end with some sort of alternate-world stinger like “If only there were writers brave enough to explore concepts like space travel or post-scarcity economics! But ever since H.G. Wells died in that trolley crash at the tragically young age of thirty, no writer has taken up the task.” Which would be a pretty clever story, incidentally — certainly more clever than Schellenberg’s article.

Quote #15

dr.moreau“For that reason I live on the broad free downland…I have withdrawn myself from the confusion of cities and multitudes, and spend my days surrounded by wise books, bright windows, in this life of ours lit by the shining souls of men. I see few strangers, and have but a small household. My days I devote to reading and to experiments in chemistry, and I spend many of the clear nights in the study of astronomy. There is, though I do not know how there is or why there is, a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live. And so, in hope and solitude, my story ends.”

– Edward Prendick describing pretty much the perfect existence at the end of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau