Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sam Raimi's World War 3 and the History of Science Fiction

Recently I wrote about the possibility that science fiction--real, hardcore, idea-based science fiction, science fiction as H.G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback and John Campbell knew it, rather than science fiction as just some fuzzy category containing anything that smells even slightly speculative--was in decline, and that this was in part because its place in contemporary culture was being taken up by other things that performed the task as well--or in respects, even better.

These included pop science, pop technology and of course pop futurology. The last of these seems of particular importance. Today someone looking to speculate about the future, to provide a scenario in which the world is different, not only has the opportunity to do so by way of nonfiction (an option not around when, for example, Edward Bellamy was writing, or Wells was starting out, and still comparatively limited in Campbell's heyday), but can perhaps do so more effectively and fully in that way than if they were obliged to work their ideas into a work of fiction. They can devote their full attention to working out what tomorrow might be like, in the large and the small, and how it came to be that way, rather than trying to force it all into the background of some character's narrative (and being scorned by ever more literature-minded critics for the extent to which they raised such non-Jamesian matters at all).

That a director of Sam Raimi's stature has thought it commercially viable to take a work of futurology and make a major feature film out of it--in this case, George Friedman's The Next 100 Years--would seem to be suggestive of the long-running trend. The actual film, of course, can be expected to be a work of fiction, with characters and so on, but the point is that rather than taking some novel and adapting that, the starting point is specifically a work of futurology.

The Cult of Ian Fleming
Sam Raimi's World War 3 and the History of Science Fiction
Sam Raimi's World War 3: Thoughts on the Source Material
The Next 100 Years: Another View
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman
Science Fiction's Sense of Mission
Preview After the New Wave
Reviewing George Friedman's Predictions
Preview Cyberpunk, Steampunk and Wizardry

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