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the future [Archive]

It’s the GENE MAPPER giveaway contest!

Happy June, all! We are super-excited for this month’s release, Taiyo Fujii’s hard SF novel Gene Mapper! The book has already received a great review from Publishers Weekly, which called it a new kind of cyberpunk novel. it’s near-future, scientific, and strangely whimsical in a way.

Gene Mapper is a story about a lot of “next steps.” The Internet has been replaced and upgraded; Augmented Reality is commonplace, as are genetically modified organisms. So that’s our theme for this week’s contest—what’s next? What emerging technology are you most interested in? Frightened of? (Don’t say jetpacks! There won’t be any jetpacks!) Tell us about it in a comment below: be serious, be funny, provide links, write a poem. Communicate in English, Japanese, Spanish, German, or Greek. We’ll read it. The best four will win a hard copy of Gene Mapper.

The future is now!

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Subtle Hints!

And now, two very oblique hints about the identity of two of the books you’ll be seeing from us in 2011! You can guess, of course, but I’ll neither confirm nor deny until the time is right.



(I chose this cover version because the original video is not safe for work.)

Happy guessing!

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The Future Lasts Forever

One of the great things about science fiction is its scope, in both time and space. Of course, space is very very big as we know, and time practically seems to go on forever, but in our little lives we often forget the big picture. We’re just specks of flesh and electro-chemical impulses rising and then vanishing in cosmic microseconds. Seems bleak, and it certainly can be a bleak vision—Lovecraft, as we talked about last week, worked this angle. But it can also be a hopeful. A Canticle for Lebowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. is probably the greatest science fiction novel to explore the hopeful side of this theme. Published as a series of stories throughout the 1950s and then as a novel in 1960, Canticle is the story of the end of civilization, a Roman Catholic monastery that manages to save some remnants of science and culture, and the new world that arises from the ashes. It’s also a very quotable book. Here are two quotes I like very much:

“Ignorance is king. Many would not profit by his abdication. Many enrich themselves by means of his dark monarchy. They are his Court, and in his name they defraud and govern, enrich themselves and perpetuate their power. Even literacy they fear, for the written word is another channel of communication that might cause their enemies to become united. Their weapons are keen-honed, and they use them with skill. They will press the battle upon the world when their interests are threatened, and the violence which follows will last until the structure of society as it now exists is leveled to rubble, and a new society emerges. I am sorry. But that is how I see it.”


“Probing the womb of the future is bad for the child.”

Future has its discontents, but the bad time and tragedies never last long. Of course, nothing does compared to the infinity of time. Worth keeping in mind, I think!

A fair amount of Japanese science fiction, including the forthcoming Harmony, which I just handed off to the designers, also explores such themes of trauma, hope, death, and renewal. As Haikasoru continues, we’ll be exploring this theme in some depth, and I hope our readers get something out of it when it comes to navigating the infinite universe and living their own lives.

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