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Who's afraid of the future?

by

Timothy O. Goyette



If you are Chuck Norris you don't fear the future.  The future fears you.  But for the rest of us mortals there are concerns about what the future holds.  That may be why fortune telling is apealing to many.  
 
Over the years we ask speculative fiction authors what they fear most about the future.  We thought you'd find their answers interesting.  
 
 
Alan Dean Foster
 
The easy availability of information on how to make chemical weapons, nuclear bombs, and other weapons of mass destruction.
 
 
Peter F. Hamilton
 
The attitude which too many people seem to have that it will take care of itself, and we shouldn’t be concerned about the actions we take today.  That’s the very opposite of the way I feel.
 
 
C. J. Cherryh
 
Nothing. I like the future. Look at where we’ve come since the Dark Ages. We’re doing fine, by comparison to where we’ve been.
 
 
Joe Haldeman
 
Technological advances in warfighting.
 
 
Jeanne Cavelos
 
So hard to choose! Wow, pretty much everything scares me but I think the thing that scares me the most, I’m not sure if I’m saying it in the right words but, that we’re losing our individuality, or we’re losing solitude and individual creativity.  Things seem to becoming more and more communal.  People want to write stories together, they want to create communities on the internet they want to do things as groups.
 
I’m not anti-social! Honestly! And I really don’t hate humanity in its entirety but I feel like nobody’s alone anymore and there’s no solitude.   Because, if you’re alone you’re just messaging somebody else, you’re texting somebody else you’re on the cell phone to somebody else.  You walk around this campus that’s all you see.  No longer do people walk and think from one class to another class.  They’re walking while they’re talking on their cell phones so there’s not the sense of being alone and thinking and coming up with your own unique perspective on things.
 
It’s more about doing things communally and I guess there’s a value to that.  I’m certain there is.  But I feel there’s a big value to doing things alone.  Because then you can come up with things that are really different that nobody else would have thought of.  I guess I’m scared that that may be going by the wayside.
 
 
David Brin
 
Loss of our native eagerness for the future and for change.  Propaganda from all directions -- both right and left and most religions, and atheism and most of the arts -- ALL seem determined to rant at us one common theme, that science and technology and calm negotiation and courteous disagreement and vigorous problem solving are all old-fashioned and obsolete notions.  Whining is the modern habit.  I can't wait till the boomers retire to Florida and leave civilization in the hands of a more mature generation.
 
 
L. E. Modesitt Jr.
 
What concerns me most about the future is the arrogance of both present-day leaders and, frankly, all too many young people, both of whom seem to embody the feeling and believe that, somehow, they are both special and different... and that they have little to learn from others, their elders, or history.  This kind of arrogance ignores both common humanity and the lessons of history, even as the most recent crises again point out that human beings have a tendency to repeat patterns of behavior time and time again.  It’s not the same mistakes, but the same human tendencies that lead to similar mistakes… and to fail to recognize that, in general, neither people not populations learn that much makes the opportunity for future catastrophes all that much greater because technology magnifies both accomplishments and disasters.
 
 
Jack Campbell
 
What worries me the most?  Well, we’re human.  We do stupid things.  Maybe
we’ll do something so stupid it denies that limitless tomorrow to us and our
descendents.  Just as our abilities could give us the universe, our frailties
might deny us the universe.  We have to transcend our faults.
 
 
Mayer Alan Brenner
 
We live in an age of wonders, and fortunately for those of us who live in the developed world, we're in a position to take advantage of them. As much of a futurist philosophy as I'll admit to is "the future won't be as good as we hope or as bad as we fear."
 
 
E. C. Ambrose
 
The idea that our government, continuing to succumb to party divisions, will make life even harder for the majority of Americans, and all in the name of helping us out. 
 
 
Terri Bruce
 
Nothing. Every period of my life has been better than the one before, even when bad things are happening (like being temporarily displaced for months while renovating our entire house due to winter storm damage). In the grand scheme of things, when I feel bad about the state of the world and find myself thinking everything is going to hell in a hand basket, I get some historical perspective. Political muckraking (the “yellow journalism” era), corruption (the “gilded age”), oppression (“McCarthyism”)—they’ve all been just as bad if not worse in the past. As a society, I think we’re moving forward and things are not worse now than they have ever been at any previous point. When I look at that, I think, “Hey, we’re doing pretty good. Progress is slow, but we’re getting there.”

2016-01-28 08:16:35
r.tornello - The future? It just passed, oh and yet again.

Afraid? no as some said concerned what we crazy monkeys will do, have done and all that to the only rock we have to live on. The Universe won't miss us unless we're the only ones out there to give homage to the truly awe inspiring spectacle of all of it.


2016-01-25 14:32:47
robwtyler - Well, there's the Future, and then there's your personal future. The Future is a great adventure that I would love to be around for, however wondrous and terrible it turns out to be. Personal future is another matter. All too predictable. Plenty to be afraid of, until you figure it out.

2016-01-10 12:55:08
GordonRowlinson - I tend to think, our lives improve as time goes on. Compare our lives with those who lived in the middle ages or earlier. We live longer, don't have to work as hard, have creature comforts and have more freedoms. It's somewhat cold outside today. If I lived 100 years ago, I'd be outside collecting firewood. That must have been a boring task. I understand that writing about a positive future severely limits the storyline. I only wrote about a positive future once and I found it hard to do. It's easier to come up with evil 1984-like governments and man vs. machine and apocalyptic ideas.

2016-01-07 08:56:50
tgoyette - I wrote a friendly government story once. It was terrible.

2016-01-04 13:39:55
Ironspider - I'm not afraid of the future. I'm just afraid of what we'll do to secure one.

2016-01-02 06:30:44
micheledutcher - I meant '...to rail against there is no plot.'

2016-01-02 06:29:06
micheledutcher - GordonRowlinson: I was thinking exactly the same thing resently. It wouldn't be difficult to write a science fiction story where the future is rosy and peaceful, but when I've tried to write a story like that, I'm always drawn to the question 'What's behind the curtain?" I think it would be an excellent challenge to write a stoy about a good future where everything is on the up-and-up. Star Trek comes closest to this, perhaps, but then you need to bring in enemies from the outside (i.e. the Borg). Without opposition there is no growth, without something to rail against there is plot. I'm still thinking about this challenge, but haven't come up with a friendly Earth government story yet.

2016-01-01 16:03:32
GordonRowlinson - I think most are afraid of the future as it represents the unknown. I am consistently taken back by how the future is always depicted negatively in fiction. I just rented the movie Total Recall from netflicks. As usual in the future, a corrupt government oppresses an abused population. Its a common theme in sci Fi. It made me think. I think we like stories with a negative future as deep down inside we are afraid of the future. Even in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas future is a scary guy.





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