SIGHS OF FUTURE PAST

by Joseph T Major



Greg Bear has proclaimed that we won't be living in this shape in the future. Vernor Vinge has written off writing genuine future fiction, since the Synchronicity is going to create a new order of beings. I could believe you guys, but:

Sixty years ago you said that by now . . .

we'd be living on food pills and wearing paper jump suits in great clean white porcelain buildings of 500 stories.

Fifty years ago you said that by now . . .

we'd be taking our morning energy irridiation before boarding the helicopter to fly down to the rocket port for the trip to Africa.

Forty years ago you said that by now . . .

the advertising agencies would be deciding what gray flannel suit we would be wearing today and what we'd be thinking about it.

Thirty years ago you said that by now . . .

we'd be deciding what drugs to take in our back-to-nature rural communes so we could fight the fascist pigs better.

Twenty years ago you said that by now . . .

we'd be watching the debate of the chimpanzees and dolphins as to whether or not humanity should be admitted to the category of sapient beings.

Ten years ago you said that by now . . .

we'd be plugging in our head-sockets to jack into the Net while listening to the latest in punk rock.

And throughout you said that by now . . .

we'd be scrabbling for existence amid the nuclear ruins of a devastated America, destroyed by a war started by fascists in Washington.

All which is to say that as specific futurism, SF is not particularly reliable. There is a remarkable pressure to follow the latest fad.