Next month’s Internet of Words Book of the Month will be going full on sci-fi. I’m not gonna lie, I love myself a good hunk of speculative fiction, and the World currently is just DRIPPING with possibilities for those of us who love to write. With my Tomorrowland hat on (worth your time watching, not nearly as awful as some people will tell you) I’d like to celebrate the fact that, in my lifetime, you may well be able to travel from New York to Washington in 30 minutes, which puts the pedestrian ideals of my country’s High Speed Rail link to utter shame. That’s 226 miles, approximately a three an a half hour car ride south via the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95, down to 30 minutes. The future, people, is a joy to behold when technology gets its oil-stained fingers on things. Gawd bless ya, Elon Musk and your solar-fueled empire of renewable awesome.
It’s the God emulators we have to watch a little more closely.
DNA faffing is nothing new. For 120 quid I can get a home DNA testing kit delivered to my door and discover what latent disease might yet end my chances of a long, happy life. For everything else however it is the stem cell that matters, and I’m not sure why I’m surprised that this claim above is even news. Rules, scientists will tell you, are often there to be broken in the interests of progress. When you learn from Teen Vogue of an experiment you’d never heard about it is no time to be snotty about who reports the news, but simply to be grateful it is reported at all. Social media might be able to astound you with facts about cheese, or that amazing video of the puppy rescue but really, wouldn’t you rather know about how the past dictates the future? There will be experiments running right now with dubious end claims. The only way you may ever hear about them is if they are successful.
All the ideas that drive TV formats, which rely on dodgy or invented ‘versions’ of science aren’t the ones that matter right now. It is the fact that procedural shows are perhaps some of the biggest draws which shows that the thirst for actual fact can be both accomdated and satisfied in ‘normal’ drama. According to Wikipedia, a procedural is ‘a cross-genre type of literature, film, or television program involving a sequence of technical detail.’ That includes medical dramas (Greys Anatomy, Casualty) and crime scene institutions such as CSI (all flavours) and Silent Witness: start with a crime, or an illness, and cure it in an hour to ninety minutes (plus ad breaks, your region may vary.) These shows now pride themselves on truth as part of the plot. Although people still love a good fanciful ‘what if…’ scenario, reliance on reality is becoming increasingly important.
There is a flip side to this, however: what if your fantasy is too close to reality for you to cope with?
The Circle promised a great deal with early trailers, but released in late April to barely a whimper, and was unceremoniously shuttled to Netflix in late June without a word. Sometimes it isn’t just the pacing or content of a film that makes it unpalatable to cinema audiences, often content itself can be too close to issues or ideas that people are not yet ready to grasp, and however melodramatic some might consider this attack on ‘full transparency’ to be there will be moments of discomfort for anyone who lives their life far too fully online. Speculative fiction allows readers (and viewers in this case) to grasp the possibilities or event can have on shaping a different future for everybody. It is no wonder that the Planet of the Apes franchise is currently undergoing a renaissance, that superhero movies are front and centre. Imagining alternate reality is not only a wonderful means of enjoyment, it also has the potential to promote thought on very real issues emerging in both science and technology.
There are already microchips in Swedish employees: about the size of a grain of rice, capable of simple tasks only, nothing fancy. Wearable tech is already here: I can keep all my credit card details on a ring or a bangle, if I don’t think my phone is safe enough (and I don’t.) I swing between Luddite and Evangelist right now, because the speed of change rarely if at all keeps pace with the means to protect information. When you know you can’t trust anyone to be 100% honest and transparent over what they’re doing, especially the people in charge, it makes for a little bit conspiracy theory and an awful lot of cautious optimism. As is the case with the Internet, everything’s a bit Wild West and you gotta just hope that the good guys are the ones who win.
There’s a lot going on in the World. People are attempting to clone extinct creatures right now, I can guarantee you. Yes, you should really be worried what could emerge from the ice when the polar caps melt. Buying a boat if you live near the sea is a sound investment… and the list goes on. For now, enjoy the speculation and don’t get too stressed about the shit you can’t change. However, your mind is not one of those things: the more information you can glean to make informed decisions for yourself, the better.
Start opening your eyes to the real potential of the future.