Science Fiction is all about prediction. I’m speaking of hard science fiction here, not space opera… no one cares what’s going on in a galaxy far, far away.
There are good plot lines and poor plot lines, there are good character studies and poor character studies. But unlike so many other genres, science fiction is about predicting what technology will be like in the future and how humans will deal with it. Stories like Neuromancer really pushed the envelope of what future tech could be like. And I’m still waiting for the mission to Jupiter promised some 10 years ago.
Science ficition can take a little piece of tech and explore from there like Blood Music or Supervirus or a whole frameshift in how we do things like the Culture series (arguably about humans… or not… your pick).
Now, I find it more and more difficult to find decent new books, so I reread ones from the past. Some are too painful to read, even though they were excellent. Having watched the events of 9/11 on television, I cannot read Manhattan Transfer with a pang of sadness.
Let me add something else here, I enjoy rereading books. Very often I will find things that I missed the first or even second time I read them. I read very, very quickly. I read a paperback page per minute and I have been known to consume an entire 400 page book in a long afternoon. Curiously, my reading comprehension (last time it was measured) is still in the 97% range.
In the current books I’m rereading (G. Harry Stine’s Starsea Invaders series), I found a lovely statement that I hadn’t remembered before.
In this book, the group tasked with investigating and researching alien activities on Earth has been co-opted by the very aliens that the group was assigned to investigate. The group gets together to discuss things at one point and one of the members says this (paraphrased):
I’m beginning to think that politicians and the denizens of capital cities are retarded compared to other humans. They don’t have the technical knowledge that other humans have and they don’t seem to realize it.
I find that disturbingly accurate. I really do think that politicians are retarded. I further think that people who go into politics for the purpose of changing politics are even dumber than that.
One person, even a dozen people, can’t change a system in which the majority (550+) are dedicated to maintaining the status quo.
Ah, the lessons we could learn, if we only studied.