On finding optimistic literary science-fiction

Where can one find optimistic science-fiction stories these days, of the Asimov and Clarke variety? Visions of the future not infused with a tedious combination of personal middle-age angst (many SF writers are middle-aged these days) and general cultural pessimism? Well there are now several good samplers available, and from the very best writers.

* The leading SF writer Neal Stephenson has Project Hieroglyph, a new organisation that casts aside the gloom-pocalypse with their acclaimed new SF story anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future (paperback and audio-book)…


* The MIT Technology Review SF Annual (paperback, iPad, Kindle)…

MIT Technology Review‘s third science fiction anthology with visionary stories of the near future inspired by today’s new technologies … edited by Bruce Sterling”


Additions, June 2013:

A few additions I’ve heard about lately, on the recent optimistic literary science-fiction front:

* The Tomorrow Project: Conversations About the Future is sponsored by computer company Intel. Their 2012 anthology Imagining the Future and Building It is free in PDF…

“There is a way for us to change the future for the better. We can change the future by changing the story we tell ourselves about the future that we are going to live in. If we want to imagine a better future and then build it then we need to change the story we are telling ourselves about the future we want to live in.”

* MIT has its ongoing Design Fiction project and collections…

“Sparking imagination and discussion about the social, cultural, and ethical implications of new technologies through design and storytelling.”

* Nature Futures 2 (2014) reprints 100 examples of the ‘Futures’ column in Nature, the famous scientific journal, in which sci-fi authors give their very short fictional take on an aspect of the future.

* There’s also Jeff Rayman’s anthology When It Changed: ‘real science’ science fiction (British title: When It Changed: science into fiction, an anthology), as an attempt to infuse current science back into SF. To do this, real scientists were paired with imaginative writers. The book went to a second edition.

* Gregory Benford’s Starship Century has a dreadfully naff cover design and typography, but if you’re not put off then you’ll find an…

“anthology of science and science fiction is based on findings and discussions of the 100-Year Starship Symposium held in 2011 … a 100 year project to create a starship”.

* Finally, kids who read books might enjoy a copy of the excellent young adult novelisation of Disney’s fine optimistic SF movie Tomorrowland, which manages to avoid some of the studio compromises that the big screen version was forced into. Despite being branded as a ‘Junior Novel’, it’s not for little kids and is fine for the 10 to 15 age group.


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