Monday, December 26, 2005

One Way To Look at the Near Future

Nothing much happened today, and nothing has sparked any interesting thoughts, so I'm digging back into the archives again, for this, which was originally posted to rec.arts.sf.written 10/20/04:

I've got two small children (born 1998 and 2000), so, when I'm reading a near-future SF book, I try to work out what they could plausibly be doing in this world. (A book gets bonus points if I can imagine myself still alive and productive in that world, though I don't really expect it in a story set in, say, 2200.) If a book is set in 2030, and the mid-thirties hero is obsessed with the Grateful Dead, I try to picture my son Alex, or one of his class-mates, fitting that description. This works with any SF work set up to about fifty years in the future, though it does help if you know a couple of kids. (My younger son won't hit current retirement age until 2065, and I'm sure he'll have a flying car by then.)

Somewhat related to this is my major unreasoning prejudice, which I'm sure I've mentioned here before: I really take a dislike to books that kill me and/or my family. Additional points are subtracted if the mega-death I'm presumably part of is merely so the author can clear the slate for his hairy-chested he-men to do their mightily-thewed thing without having so many civilians to stand in the way of the broadsword's back-stroke. I know I'm supposed to identify with the thick-headed oaf, but I'm not that stupid -- I live 25 miles from New York City, am currently dependent on heart medication, and am responsible for a wife and the aforementioned two young children. If the balloon goes up, I'm toast -- and so I resent stories in which balloons are let free gleefully.

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