Randall said, in a comment on my last post, "serious SF writers acknowledge that they are not trying to predict the future, but just explore possibilities."
That's certainly true, although I'm not sure it has always been the case. I think there was certainly a feeling of predicting the future in some 50s science-fiction - when it wasn't a vehicle for bad puns. Certain concepts came from sci-fi to become things that would definitely be in the future - flying cars, monorails, interplanetary travel, and so on. Looking at those, we're not scoring so well. Although Dublin's new Luas trams have a very scifi look about them, and when seen from Ranelagh Gardens, look like the 80s illustrations of the City of the Future.
I'm currently on a research jag for a D&D campaign I'm starting soon. It has involved a lot of reading about European history, particularly the late medieval period in Lithuania, Poland, and the New Forest. Something that's becoming clear from that, particularly in Simon Schama's Landscape & Memory, is that landscape and events are much more connected than I have previously given real credit for.
Now, I also have an interest in climate change - have had for years. Some events in the recent past of my D&D campaign world have led to a bit more research into this (although to reassure my players, I have no intentions of drowning the world).
Drawing all these together is making me interested in looking at the possibilties coming from climate change in the near future. Plenty of publications are predicting that as global temperatures rise, and the polar icecaps melt, that sea-level worldwide will rise. There's been, as far as I can see, remarkably little treatment of this in science fiction.
It's an area ripe for exploitation, though. You have to consider, first, the simple effect of reducing the landmass available to humanity. Places like the Netherlands and Denmark are in big trouble immediately, if they're not just gone. All the coastal cities in the world will have to evacuate - London, New York, Tokyo, San Francisco. That's a lot of people to move elsewhere.
Then there are the long-term effects on culture. In this case, people moved could really never go home. It's just not there anymore. There'd be blame assigned all over the place, but there's no one set of shoulders to place it on, not even one nation. There'd be wars of guilt and blame, in words if not in actions.
Tall buildings would become even more important, both as ways to house the displaced, and as the lone monuments still visible - and maybe usable - in the sunken cities. Underground, or underwater habitats would have to be considered. Architectural salvage would be presented with growth opportunities like never before.
So is there science-fiction out there dealing with this, or is everyone avoiding the question?
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Posted by Drew Shiel at February 2, 2005 12:34 PM | TrackBack