Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Future: Perfect. Tense.

Bradbury. Lucas. Heinlein. Asimov. Gibson. Gilliam. Roddenberry. Dick. Le Guin. Spielberg. Huxley. Herbert. Wachowski. Wells. Clarke. Kubrick. Verne.

Today we celebrate the Oracles of the modern age – The authors and auteurs of Science Fiction.

For much of human history, we have shared stories – from heroic tales of kings and gods to lowbrow comedies of humbler men. This shared oral history helped bind us together as families, tribes and eventually nations.

Sometime* during the 19th Century, fueled by the technological firestorm of the Industrial Age, a new style of storytelling came into vogue: Science Fiction.

Rather than focusing on the past or the present, Science Fiction stories are about the future. Where storytelling had been a way of explaining to ourselves our present state – who we as a people are now and how we got here – these prophets dare to speculate on who we will become.

Through Science Fiction, we celebrate the best of ourselves – like our intelligence and ingenuity – at the same time it asks us to face, fancifully abstracted and from a comfortable distance, our greatest shared challenges. Beyond the concerns of a particular group or tribe, Science Fiction tackles larger human issues like racism, pollution, fundamentalism, and more. More than the aliens, robots, tractor beams and starships, it is this tension, the continual tug-of-war between the angels of our better and lesser natures, that makes Science Fiction so compelling.

Therefore, today we thank these voices crying out in the wilderness of fiction, intoning us to prepare the way. Through their work, we get to explore many different possible futures, both the good and the bad, giving us the chance to choose who we wish to become and the ways we may get there. By looking ahead, through the combined lenses of scientific innovation and creative imagination, we have the opportunity to shape our own destiny as a people.

Today's exercise: Flip open a book or pop in a DVD and look to the future.

Next: Updates will be sketchy between May 4 – 10, as I will be on a Yummish retreat to the Gulf Coast, eating my weight in fried seafood. Y'all come!

*It is sunny outside, thus not a day conducive to research.

Bonus: Mock me!
For your amusement, below are the results of my attempts at writing poetry for National Poetry Month.

The time before
The space between
The years until

We were one
You and I
We will be the same

Dragon Lady
Serpent's fire belly
Cosmic wings on my back
Fortune at my shoulder

I chase the wind,
Sail the sea, ride the sky,
Fall eternally, never crashing

I am eternal.
I am carbon, elemental.
I am more than I can know.

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