Tuesday, February 08, 2005

How Soon Is Now?

I mentioned in class last week that I was reading William Gibson's latest novel, Pattern Recognition. As discussed by Kneale in this week's readings, Gibson is very concerned with place and the texture of places in which people live and work. Kneale describes him as a science fiction writer and that's true of his earlier work. All the more interesting then that the new book takes place in contemporary London, Tokyo and Moscow. Maybe postmodernity means no longer needing to imagine a future because the future is now.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

There seems to be a growing class of quasi-futurist writers and essayists to which I would say Gibson at least loosely belongs (I'm thinking of people such as Bruce Sterling, Max Barry and Warren Ellis). Their fiction is predominantly contemporary, but blends into the more fantastical elements of non-fictional technology development. If this is indeed a symbol that we've caught up with our dreams of the future, how has this happened? Is it that technology and our ability to exploit it have ramped up so much, or is it that we've lost the ability to see beyond the latest iPod ad? (I suspect many media critics would say the latter, and then glare disapprovingly at the nearest TV set.)

But something else jumps out from your description that I wonder about. Ellis is fond of saying that Britain and Japan have entered a post-colonial age, in which they are less concerned with directly influencing the rest of the world by force (whether military, political or cultural) and more content to turn inward and create something of a deliberate society. For the most part, Britons are beyond religion, corporatism and dreams of political empire in a way that makes no sense to most Americans. If part of the postmodern reality is the ability to more directly choose your path, what if futurism is now defined by space -- e.g., America to Britain -- rather than time?