July 27, 2017

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887. Credit: WikiCommons

Science-fiction is a genre that imagines the future. It doesn’t necessarily predict the future (after all, where are flying cars?), but it grapples with the technological and societal changes happening today to better understand our world and where it’s heading.

So, what does it mean when so much of our most popular science-fiction - The Handmaid’s Tale, The Walking Dead, and The Hunger Games - present bleak, depressing futures? Cory Doctorow might just have an answer. He’s a blogger, writer, activist, and author of the new book Walkaway, an optimistic disaster novel.

Three Takeaways 

  • Doctorow thinks that science-fiction can give people “ideas for what to do if the future turns out in different ways.” Like how William Gibson’s Neuromancer didn’t just predict the internet, it predicted the intermingling of corporations and the state.
  • When you have story after story about how people turn on each other after disaster, Doctorow believes it gives us the largely false impression that people act like jerks in crises. When in fact, people usually rise to the occasion.
  • With Walkaway, his “optimistic” disaster novel, Doctorow wanted to present a new narrative about resolving differences between people who are mostly on the same side.

More reading 

Science Fiction, Cory Doctorow, The Handmaid's Tale, Sci-Fi, The Hunger Games, Culture

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