William Gibson talks about his writing, and sci-fi more generally, to the Paris Review. I really should read one of his novels that are set in the present. We live in a bizarrely science fiction world. It’s the future, but not the one we were thinking of, and not everywhere yet. Speaking about a conversation he might have had with someone back from our future, talking to his Neuromancer writing 1984 self:
You know how you wrote that the United States is gone and the Soviet Union is looming in the background like a huge piece of immobile slag? Well, you got it kind of backward.
I love that his futures are dirty and imperfect, not smooth and polished. Hacked together from bits of the past, all piled up on each other like compost.
I recently watched Code 46 again. When I first saw it a few years ago I didn’t like it very much, but this time it seemed more interesting. The storyline doesn’t hold together very well, and from a scientific point of view there are some painful gaffes, but it’s at least attempting to explore some important present and near-future issues, which is more than I can say for most science fiction films. That makes me sad, since I feel at its best, science fiction helps us understand how we interact with and relate to technology, and how technology changes the way we interact and relate to each other. The fact that there’s so little mainstream science fiction trying to do this today is frightening. We’re just blindly stumbling forward into the darkness. Maybe the best thoughtful sci-fi I can recall from the recent past is Gattaca, which depicts in a very stylized way a future society which is starkly divided between those who are genetically enhanced and those who are not. Gattaca is pretty clearly unconcerned with the details as opposed to the implications of its premise, and that makes it easier to gloss over whatever issues it has. It’s less clear that Code 46 is this self aware, but at least on a second viewing, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Be warned, there are spoilers below.
Continue reading Code 46 and the dearth of thoughtful science fiction