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Just as a science fiction story tries to predict the future and our reactions to it, it is also a slave to the concepts of the age it was written in.

A writer can have a great insight into the possible and a creative imagination, but the possible is often chained to existing paradigms.

For example, for all of the great SF created in the pre-personal computer/laptop/pda/cell phone days, the only well-known character to ever use a personal technology device was Dick Tracy (Agent 86 in the TV Series Get Smart carried a rotary-dial phone in his shoe, but that was more humor than prediction).

Everyone else in speculative popular fiction carried satchel-sized computers and electronics, and while there may have been a computer on a spacecraft, there was never one in the astronaut's hand, or on a desktop. If there was, it was only a terminal for a mainframe in the walls of the ship or the basement of the house.

Even Asimov or Clarke, with their predictions of ubiquitous computing, always referred to larger systems integrated into houses, buildings, and cities, but never integral to an individual character, unless it was linked to said huge out-of-sight mainframe.

A more specific example of paradigm entrapment can be found in the movie Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan. There is a scene where Bones is giving Kirk a pair of antique glasses. They were an interesting plot device that was carried through to the third film. Bones tells Kirk the reason he is giving him glasses is because of Kirk's allergy to the drug that they treat farsightedness with. The movie was made before laser eye surgery.

An even more recent example can be found in the film Minority Report. The film makes a great deal of the intrusive nature of that future society based upon iris scanning technology to find out who everyone is at all times and where they are. Even the ad posters our hero Tom Cruise passes by scan his eye and pitch personalized messages to him as he walks by. This depiction didn't take into consideration the much more cost-effective and even more intrusive technology of RFID (although a variation of RFID was used in the more "socially visionary" (IMHO) Demolition Man in the form of tags embedded in the back of the hand.)

Science fiction will always betray the writer's and his or her society's predjudices about what is feasible. It may be very extrapolative in some areas, but in others it will almost certainly be blind to future developments. Of course, that's part of the fun.

I've read quite a few articles on science fiction shaping the future over the last fifty years. Most did point out the more common tropes of utopian or dystopian futures (sometimes without the flying cars or personal computers, for shame!) I think the trend went back another ten years before William Gibson and Neal Stephenson helped to bring the focus to the computer age. We were coming out of both class and cultural warfare in the sixties, especially racial and women's inequalities. Science fiction picked up on those and pushed the cultural impacts further into the future. A few went the way of a utopian Star Trek, where transporter and replicator technology removed the need for money and "thing" culture where people kept up with the Jones' two new cars in the driveway. Other authors decided to go with dystopian societies like Blade Runner and a slew of Schwarzenegger flicks. I think folks are feeling down at the moment, so the dystopian wave is still in effect. I'm actually interested in writing some positive message science fiction now just because it would be something new.

I've been aware of corporations using science fiction writers to give some feedback on how technology will be used. I think it's similar to doing a marketing focus group except the room is filled with science nerds. Perhaps the way a corporation deals with the tech impacting culture says a lot about whether they're pushing for a dystopian or a utopian future.

As far as reading and writing science fiction goes, I love most of it as long as it is intriguing and well-crafted. Life is too short for crappy books and my to-be-read pile will outlast me.

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