Popular Science has released their annual collection of “Dispatches from the Future,” a collection of microscenarios solicited from sci-fi writers. At a few hundred words each, these provide a nice short pop of futurist fiction. For this week’s FF assignment, I’m suggesting you read them with a critic’s eye. Sure, notice the futures the authors envision, but I’m more interested in your reaction to their writing. Which of these essays are the most compelling, and why? Which imply the world in which they exist, and which hit you over the head with the details? What do they teach you about effective writing?
The stories encompass:
Transportation–Ian Tregillis presents a steampunkish vision of biomimetic airships buoyed aloft by…nothing. Karle Schroeder points out our impatience will always exceed the speed of the newest technology.
Aging–both Ann Leckie and Scott Lynch take a chilling look the downside of extreme longevity. (I think Lynch’s essay is particularly compelling and well-written. If you only read one of these essays, scroll down to his.)
Entertainment: Melinda Snodgrass riffs on the historic impact of sci-fi, while John Scalzi points out that when it comes to the foibles of tech and tech support, plus ca change…
Food: Elizabeth Bear takes a sly dig at the paleo diet and the high prices at WF (“Wild Food,” in her story) and Mary Robinette Kowal dramatizes the value of fresh veggies on a space station.
War: Seanan McGuire envisions a neurotoxic War of the Roses; Daniel Abraham speculates that the high stakes of interplanetary conflict might tone down the violence.
It took me a 1/2 hour to read the whole collection, and that included breaks to write the summaries above, so this is maybe a 15-20 break for you. Enjoy!