This week’s issue of The Escapist includes my article “Adjacent Data” about science-fiction’s hold on our imaginations and culture.
Science fiction strikes me as inescapable sometimes, surrounding us in videogames, books, movies and comics. Even a videogame about a 12th century assassin, of all things, wound up being sci-fi last fall. The blockbuster Transformers and the perpetually re-released Blade Runner hit screens last year, and the easily missed Sunshine will likely find a sizable audience on DVD. It made me wonder why we love science fiction this much, a genre that can be so derivative and clichÃ©.
“Nothing acquires quite as rapid or peculiar a patina of age as an imaginary future.”
– William Gibson, Burning Chrome.
“Patina” is an interesting word to choose. It can refer to a desirable, well worn and aged look, and also the ugly greenish corrosion on coins. And so, too, a patina’s aesthetic effect on sci-fi is one entirely of context. Science fiction’s slick veneer of prescience breaks down almost immediately, corroded by the passing of time and our better informed perspective. If this happens so quickly and consistently, why does sci-fi maintain its appeal, especially old sci-fi, which ends up inaccurate and outdated?