On the publication of Cybersalon’s new collection of ideas about the future
I wrote this introduction to a wonderful new collection of fiction/non-fiction hybrid stories from my old friends at Cybersalon Press, called 22 Ideas About the Future, which was just released today. I realize it reads a bit like a review, so I thought I’d share it here.
You see men sailing on their ego trip,
Blast off on their spaceship,
Million miles from reality:
No care for you, no care for me.
- Bob Marley, “So Much Trouble in the World”
Fiction has always been a guilty pleasure for me. With so many urgent things going on in the real world, how dare I indulge in reading, much less writing fiction? Don’t I have a responsibility to understand and explain the realities of economic inequality, racial injustice, and climate change before engaging in fantasies of robots, space, and artificial intelligence?
But after writing a couple of dozen non-fiction books and hundreds of articles, I’m not so sure that fact-based rhetoric is the best way to reach people — or even to inform them. Yes, I’ve gathered plenty of evidence for people who already agree with me to make their cases to others. I know many of my readers have nodded along with what I’ve written, feeling confirmed and vindicated by seeing their own opinions expressed for them in writing — maybe in a manner more fully formed than they’ve been able to articulate themselves. It’s an honor and a privilege to put words to our shared sensibilities.
Still, I’ve become aware that no matter how well I argue, I’m painfully limited in my ability to reach through to people who don’t already see the world as I do. My facts and insights don’t penetrate closed minds. It’s as if my premises just bounce off people’s skulls and scatter on the ground, unconsidered. If only I could get people to create a sliver of an opening to suppose something new or different, even if just for a moment. If they would only consider the utterly implausible, even just for kicks, I know I could take care of the rest.
Speculative fiction does something very special to the otherwise…