Futur proche selon Charles Stross


Charles Stross a écrit sur son blogun petit billet intitulé What is near-future SF?

Et voici ce qu'il écrit :

"I'm prompted to write this entry simply because a number of folks on the earlier blog entry seem to have misunderstood the point I was making ... this is by way of illumination.

In my view, near-future SF isn't SF set n years in the future. Rather, it's SF that connects to the reader's life: SF about times we, personally, can conceive of living through (barring illness or old age). It's SF that delivers a powerful message — this is where you are going. As such, it's almost the diametric opposite of a utopian work; utopias are an unattainable perfection, but good near-future SF strive for realism.

Orwell's 1984 wasn't written as near-future SF, even though he wrote it in 1948, a mere 36 years out: it explicitly posits a global dislocation, a nuclear war and a total upheaval, between the world inhabited by Orwell's readers and the world of Winston Smith. You can't get there from here, because it's a parable and a dystopian warning: the world of Ingsoc is not for you.

In contrast, Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire is near-future SF, even though it's set nearly a century out; his heroine, a centenarian survivor from our own times, is on the receiving end of a new anti-aging medical treatment that has some odd side-effects, and so we get a chance to tour the late 21st century vicariously. You're meant to think, "I could end up there" — that's the whole point of near-future SF.

Technothrillers aren't near-future SF. Technothrillers are thrillers first; they play against the background of the world as we know it (albeit the world of drama and espionage and public affairs) without considering the way the technology trappings they rely on might change the human condition. The high-tech stuff is window dressing.

Near-future SF does different things with the same tools; they come front-and-centre -- or rather, their effects come front-and-centre, and the world is changed thereby. And they're not necessarily such obvious new technologies as smart bombs and wrist-watch radios; they might equally well be a new way of looking at the memetic spread of fashions, as in Connie Willis' Belwether, or social network mediated economics, as in Bruce Sterling's Maneki Neko.

(There's a key scene in "Halting State" where I played with this: Jack and Elaine are walking through Edinburgh, circa 2018, and Jack is explaining how it would outwardly look mostly familiar to someone from 50 years ago -- except that underneath the building facades and differently styled cars and clothing, everything works differently. Whereas in a traditional technothriller, everything works the same but the cars are very gosh-wow and all have machine guns behind the headlights, so to speak.)"
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