Predicting Science Fiction

Matthew Cheney in his blog Mumpsimus recently wrote a post called Predicting Morons. The post’s starting point was Ben Bova’s assertion that more people should read science fiction because it’s good at predicting things.

Matthew disagrees.

It’s unfortunate that as experienced and intelligent a writer as Ben Bova would advocate SF for its predictive powers… Instead, perhaps Bova should have said that SF is a marvelous tool for satire.

I wholeheartedly agree with Matthew. And while as I write, I do often wonder if what I’ve written will become true, and, to be honest, dread that it will all come to pass, that is not at the heart of what I think I’m doing. Ultimately, I am trying to turn my fears into fun.

I imagine it is the same that mountain climbers seek. Instead of George Mallory’s "because it is there" answer, what they’re really doing is defeating their fear of height, size, permanence. In my recent writing, I have tried to deal with my fears, and it is science fiction that seems most ready and able to take on the demons of our times: sodium erythorbate, Britney, and Cargill.

2 thoughts on “Predicting Science Fiction”

  1. Bova can probably be taken as typical of a large group of writers who aggressively self-identify in terms of market driven labels developed decades ago.
    Celebrating the (really lousy) predictive abilities of generically/ideologically “pure” science fiction is just one facet of a general tendency among these guys–they’re almost exclusively guys–to view genre as a weirdly attenuated, but definitionally permanent, ethical stance instead of as a permeable artistic space to work within.

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