Miércoles 19 de Noviembre de 2008, Ip nº 255

Sci-fi special: Ursula K Le Guin
Por Ursula K Le Guin

It's daunting to try and talk about "the future of" any kind of fiction, even the future of books themselves, when publishing is in such a tumult of technological change. Will print-on-demand save the book? Will we all soon be reading novels on our cellphones like the Japanese? R U redE 4 prose to devolve into interactive texting? Or is the letter dead? Nobody knows. But I'd guess that some interesting science fiction will turn up in such forms as the graphic novel and the animated film. "Live" sci-fi films with expensive effects got stuck in the dumbo blockbuster mode, but graphics and animation are as supple and free - almost - as writers' and readers' imaginations, and we've barely begun to see the intelligence and beauty those forms can embody.

Science fiction that pretended to show us the future couldn't keep up with the present. It failed to foresee the electronic revolution, for example. Now that science and technology move ever faster, much science fiction is really fantasy in a space suit: wishful thinking about galactic empires and cybersex - often a bit reactionary. Things are livelier over on the social and political side, where human nature, which doesn't revise itself every few years, can be relied on to provide good solid novel stuff. Writers like Geoff Ryman and China Miéville are showing the way, or Michael Chabon, who foregoes the future to give us a marvellous alternate present in The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

The distinction between science fiction and realism was never as clear as the genre snobs wanted it to be. I rejoice to think that both terms are already largely historical; they are moulds from which literature is breaking free, as it always does, to find new forms.

  12/11/2008. New Scientist Magazine.