Blogwatch: Paleo-Future

I'ts been a long time since I've recommended an entire blog and not just a post, but Paleo-Future definitely qualifies. It chronicles visions of the future from past eras that seem absolutely quaint now. Everything from weather machines to space and sea colonies, from the 19th century to the early 80's.

What I find fascinating about these different perspectives is not their quaintness or absurdity but how each vision of the future is governed by that time period's contemporary understanding of "progress". It just goes to show you that most science fiction has a lot more to do with the present than the future. Only the very best writers can transcend the technological culture, think outside the obvious trends, and propose a world that is fundamentally alien while still just barely plausible. Science fiction promotes an open discussion in our society on the limits, meaning, and direction of progress in a way that politics will never have the imagination or narrative skill to express.

I was thrilled to see one of my favorite childhood books, Future War and Weapons, featured on the blog. There's something about large scale technological organization and mechanized power that I don't think any red-blooded boy will ever be able to resist. Knowing what I know now about the cold war and the State's role in promoting centralizing technology in the pursuit of power only slightly inhibits the appeal of such fantastic scenarios for me. But let a thousand futurist flowers bloom, and let the market sort 'em out.

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Written on Wednesday, April 25, 2007