I am a Time Lord, and from the future I ask you what is the difference between Gibson’s quote last night and John Lydon yelling “No future”?
The concept that Science Fiction is losing the timeline – the vision of the future – because of the uncertainties of the present is a little frightening. It conjures some mythical version of the eighties, that mad sense of dislocation that comes with the concept of Armageddon. It is as if all the things we fear might kill us, that everything could end the world.
What a terrible thought. Worse, the idea that it might stop us really thinking about the future. Foresight and futurism are now discussed almost singularly as reactive tools. We are asked to imagine future solutions, to guess the best answers to problems we face now.
As a result, our futures are reactive. Our political and social maps are being framed as a consequence of today’s mistakes, not today’s possibilities. Our deferred pleasures are turning out to be sticking plasters.
I started thinking this in bed. I was there for ten minutes, head buzzing with a thought – thoughts – about the future.
I kissed Anne goodnight, got out of bed, put my iPhone in the LEGO Mobile, and opened Spotify. I’m playing Treats, typing on my wireless keyboard. I feel a little as if my doing all of these things has distilled my year into a handful of actions. I try and look ahead.
I can Google some of the samples on the album I’m listening to. I can discover that that blessed out beat sat underneath “Rill Rill” comes courtesy of Parliament. I can call up Funkadelic, scrobble it, dig around for a recommendation, move sideways, maybe to some De La Soul breaks. I can hear how these bands lay foundations for the music that comes next, whether they seep through as samples, guest vocalists or just through the speaker stacks.
If I want I can dissect the guts of “Stylo” and pull it into the perfect playlist.
I have infinite opportunities to explore the past like this. Generation Zero (births between 1998 and now – people too young to remember 9/11) will never know a world in which history is hard to access.
We access that history with tools that were, almost entirely, the props of science fiction my parents might have encountered – if they read it. My phone is my sonic screwdriver, the internet my TARDIS; these are the tools with which I unlock and manipulate time.
Take a leap and imagine these tools as a product of sci-fi’s imagined futures. Now think about a future in which we’ve stopped imagining them.