Speculative Fiction to the Rescue

Douglas Rushkoff
6 min readSep 29, 2022

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…

Douglas Rushkoff

Author of Survival of the Richest, Team Human, Program or Be Programmed, and host of the Team Human podcast http://teamhuman.fm