Wind-Up Girl author Paolo Bacigalupi's essay over at Wired is both a must read and a quick read. The essay is mostly about how Cyberpunk saved science fiction by shaking up the complacent view of the future that had dominated for decades — but then he broadens out into a more general theory of science fiction as a literature that thrives during times of uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Writes Bacigalupi:
I work in a literary genre that thrives at uncertainty points, when questions about our future are unanswered. Even though post-9/11 America is as corporate-dominated as any cyberpunk could have anticipated, it's also national-security-obsessed. We seem to be building toward a sort of public-private partnership of free-market totalitarianism that never felt like it was on the road map.
And of course, the huge question mark is global warming. There are so many variables, from sea level rise to disrupted ecosystems to catastrophic droughts, that a bunch of our comfortable narratives about what the world will look like-let alone how we'll adapt to it-are in play.
The whole thing is well worth reading. [Wired]