The Future's Coming: Why We Need to Prepare for Sci-Fi Tomorrows Today

Space.com | 3/18/2019 | Sarah Wells
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The technological utopias of science fiction may still be centuries away, but building the culture of that future starts now, a trio of sci-fi creators said.

On a panel at the Beyond the Cradle conference on March 14, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, science fiction creators Ytasha Womack, Daniel Suarez and Marc Okrand shared their ideas on sci-fi futures.

Trio - Perspectives - Science - Fiction - Culture

The trio discussed their perspectives on science, fiction and culture, arguing that this intersection not only creates an important opportunity to expand the scope of our own perspectives but also provides agency for those often left out of the conversation about space exploration.

"I think a lot of the science that we work towards is sometimes inspired by what we see in science fiction," said Womack, producer, director and author of works exploring Afrofuturism. "One of the exciting possibilities around sci-fi is that it can really continue to help push this notion of what we can create, especially as it comes to creating possible utopian societies."

Dystopias - Science - Fiction - Adult - Novels

Or dystopias, which popular science fiction and young adult novels tend to focus on. Womack said that while readers have an interest in dystopian stories of the future, many peoples and communities today are already living in their own forms of dystopias. By imagining societies of the future, we can explore how to improve human relations today, and in some cases even shine a harsh light on the ways our society has failed to live up to the standards we write about, Womack added.

One such disconnect is the way first contact with aliens is typically treated in fiction compared to how "aliens" on Earth are thought of and treated. While used in fiction to refer to extraterrestrials, Womack said that the initial meaning of the word "alien" simply referred...
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