Yesterday the UK Guardian ran a great article on Charles Stross, author of Halting State and Glasshouse (along with a zillion other amazing novels). Stross talks a lot about how difficult it is to predict just how strange the future will be, and charmingly refers to the idea of the singularity as "having a lot of cruft on it." But the best part is when he says that any piece of writing that struggles to come to terms with the human condition as we know it must include science.
I think that if there's one key insight science can bring to fiction, it's that fiction - the study of the human condition - needs to broaden its definition of the human condition. Because the human condition isn't immutable and doomed to remain uniform forever. If it was, we'd still be living in caves rather than worrying about global climate change. To the extent that writers of mainstream literary fiction focus on the interior landscape exclusively, they're wilfully ignoring processes and events that have a major impact on our lives. And I think that's an unforgivably short-sighted position to take.
Couldn't agree more. And I think that's why some of the age's most lauded literary authors are grappling with science, even outside the traditional science fiction genre. Even Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections has a series of subplots about engineering patents and scifi-ish pharmaceutical research. Image by Sophie Toulouse.
Tomorrow's Everyday [UK Guardian]