Can speculative fiction teach us anything in a world this crazy?

Danny Crichton interviewed me for TechCrunch about the feedback loop between imagined worlds and the real one:

Current events are a painful reminder that unlike fiction, reality needn’t be plausible. The world is complex and even the wisest of us understand only a tiny sliver of what’s really going on. Nobody knows what comes next. So while it may feel like we’re living in a science fiction novel, that’s because we’ve always been living in a science fiction novel. Or maybe speculative fiction is more real than so-called realistic fiction because the only certainty is that tomorrow will be different from today and from what we expect. Depicting a world without fundamental change has become fantastical.

As a writer of speculative fiction, I’m an enthusiastic reader of history. And in reading about the past to slake my curiosity and imagine possible futures, I’ve learned that the present is exceedingly contingent, fascinating, and fleeting. For me, speculative fiction is less about prediction than it is about riffing on how the world is changing like a jazz musician might improvise over a standard. Accuracy only happens by mistake. The most interesting rendition wins because it makes people think, dream, feel. And thanks to technological leverage, to a greater and greater extent people are inventing the future—for better and for worse.

So I’m not worried about reality catching up with speculative fiction because speculative fiction is rooted in the human experience of reality. Every black swan event is simply new material.

Read the full interview.

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Complement with this podcast interview about the speculative scenario extrapolated in Veil, what The Truman Show can teach us about the internet, and using science fiction to understand the future of the web.

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Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels, including Cumulus, Bandwidth, and, most recently, Veil. He sends a monthly newsletter documenting his journey as a reader and writer, tweets more than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.