Why Science Fiction Likes To Look 50 Years Into The Future

Illustration for article titled Why Science Fiction Likes To Look 50 Years Into The Future

Our favorite stories can come in from any time period, from our own to the long, long ago to the not-so-distant future all the way to the very far future. So what makes 50 years or so such a popular benchmark for us to look towards?

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Author Karl Schroeder joined us today to answer questions about his recent novel, Lockstep, including one about a fictional future timespan, about 30 - 80 years in the future, that many authors seem drawn to and why:

I've written some near-future stories, novellas mostly in my Gennady Malianov cycle. I haven't written a near-future novel, funnily enough, although I intend to correct that omission very shortly.

In any case it's a focus problem: to look too close to now is to open yourself to irrelevance before you're even published; to focus too far out is to give your readers nothing to care about. There's a sweet spot between thirty and eighty years in the future that a lot of writers gravitate to. In my case, since I'm interested in providing positive and possible resolutions for some of our present problems (resource overshoot, climate change etc.) I've been writing in a kind of fifteen-years-out milieu, which is where you'll find Gennady, my pathologically shy Ukrainian arms inspector (and anti-James Bond).

You can read the full Q&A right here.

Top image: Trey Ratcliff

DISCUSSION

Chuckunit
Chuckunit

Even if you are now 40 years old, its not inconceivable that you might live to see life in 2064. I am not a demographer, but In would imagine those 0 to 40 still outnumber those of us over 40. I won't be around in 50 years... I am about to turn 54 with few regrets and would be more than ahead of the happiness game if I dropped today, but seeing 104 seems damned unlikely given my gloriously decadent youth. I am able to remember aspects of life 50 years ago, and it is a dazzling difference.

I think that 50 years...two generations, let's say, is a nice round number we can all conceive of. Half a century. Its identifiable, tangible. Most of us will live to see 50 years of change and to be able to understand it, reflect on it, and its why people tend to gravitate to that.