I was talking with a friend who’s a fellow Silicon Valley resident and professional about the various devices and gizmos we’d seen – and that frankly we weren’t sure about what the holidays would bring. Nothing enthused me, the gaming platforms seemed to be headed for weirdness and overstepping. Nothing seemed, well interesting. Or new. Or meeting a need.
This quickly led to discussions about innovation, where we needed to innovate, and why we innovated. This in turn led to science fiction.
A realization settled: we’re living in the technical worlds that we saw created in the 80’s and 90’s.
Portable hand-held computers? Check – cell phones.
Personal communicators? Bluetooth connected to . . . our cellphones. Though Kirk never looked like he was talking to himself, but did seem to be having a lot of conversations with his left pectoral.
Data on little portable screens? Tablets. Straight out of Trek.
Easy portable computers out of every “near future SF novel?” Just go to a coffee shop.
Voice recognition? Siri, tell me about Majel Barret.
We’re still working on VR, but there’s limits as well as barfogenesis issues. But we’re trying.
Also no starships or anything, but hey, we got everything else a few hundred years or a few decades ahead of where our books and films predicted we’d be. Let’s cut ourselves some slack. Also space travel is freaking hard.
So, we’ve got all our SF dreams in our technology and then some. It’s just that . . . we’re living dreams that were made decades ago. We got everything we wanted when we were younger.
It’s all starting to look alike.
Right now I see a lot of me-tooism. Everyone has to have an ecosystem, a phone, a tablet, etc. Too many AAA games look all alike. I’m not feeling a lot of inspiration right now, not feeling anything to make me sit up and go “cool” or “wow, just like . . . .”
Nothing makes me see my science fiction dreams come to life because they already have. Except for some starships and jetpacks, but I’m patient.
So, let me toss out a theory. Do we have a science fiction gap? Are we missing inspiring media to get us inventing cool new things? Stuff that gets us to do stuff like we imagined, things that solve problems in new ways?
To be frank in my biases, most science fiction these days bores me. It all looks the same, I’m tired of Stargates, would-be-treks, and other work that just seems to rearrange the pieces we’re used to. There’s nothing, in my mind, that I’ve seen to inspire people to make something new.
If there is something “beyond” the rehashes we’ve seen, it often seems to be hard to relate too or way too far out, strange cyberpunk and transhumanism. Perhaps useful in some cases, but in a scale of decades or centuries, not right now, when it seems we’re terribly out of ideas. Also we need something to bridge any gaps into a future of, I dunno, immortality in cyberspace and the like.
Oh yes, there’s other reasons – playing it safe, odd investment patterns, etc. But I’m thinking the imagination gap could be a big part of this stagnation (unless you think I’m projecting that).
So? Do we have an SF gap? An imagination gap?
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers athttp://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.