No, science fiction novelists are not really predicting the future

There's a curiously wide-eyed article from the New York Times, about some recent science fiction novels that have uncannily come true, which is making the rounds online. Are science fiction novelists really predicting the future after all?

Er, no. What it boils down to, in the end, is that some people wrote books about economic disaster and dystopia, which came out during our current economic crisis. And now that our economic situation seems to be worsening again, they're looking a bit prescient. As the article points out, it's easy to predict disaster, because you're bound to be proven right eventually — it's a lot harder to predict advances in technology or science with any reliability.

(And weirdly, the Times misses at least one science fiction author who can lay claim to having predicted some of our current troubles: Brian Francis Slattery, whose Liberation came out a lot earlier than the authors the Times picks up on, and has a lot more specifics to boot.)

Anyway, false alarm. Science fiction books are still just speculation and thought experiments, with no real predictive value.

Image by SHOTbySUSAN on Flickr, via BoingBoing.

[The Times via Boing Boing]