This Week, Remember That Literally Any Future Is Possible

If anyone has any ideas about what the hell is going to happen this week, it’s speculative fiction writers

Seemingly infinite branching futures lay before us, most of them bad-shaped. Will the pandemic and wildfires leave us in withered, blasted ruins? Will the new Supreme Court finally transform us into a full-blown theocracy? Will voter suppression continue unabated until election day? Will the militias show up? Will the election — I’ll just stop it there.

Who knows! About any of it! Now is a moment in which everything seems possible, especially crippling anxiety. But while we all wait with bated breath for our hoped-for outcomes, perhaps we can take some solace in considering a few of those infinite futures. In incomprehensible times, I’ve found good speculative fiction can do wonders.

So, in honor of the mess that is sure to be election week, when the only thing that’s certain is uncertainty is certain to come, let’s take a look at some of the most informative, soul-satisfying fiction we’ve published here at OneZero this year. Starting with the almost-too-on-the-nose “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” by the master, Ted Chiang. A story about alternate timelines and time spent worrying about how we might change our own, there is simply no better story to read to nourish a fretful soul this week.

Next up, we have “Bloodchild,” another masterwork this time by all-time speculative fiction great Octavia E. Butler.

We ran “Bloodchild” as part of our series on visionary fiction, the genre and practice of placing the scope and the tools of sci-fi into activists, students, and advocates’ hands for the sake of building a better future. Walidah Imarisha, an educator and author who teaches visionary fiction, argues in her piece about the genre that “all organizing is science fiction.” To create a better future, you need to imagine it from the ground up.

For some further-flung futures — blasted landscapes and A.I. run amok — maybe revisit the exclusive excerpts we published from William Gibson and Jeff VanderMeer.

And to take a stroll through the brains of the people who write and think deeply about these futures, maybe spend some time with the first two installments of our series Why I Made This Future with post-cyberpunk speculative fiction writer Tim Maughan and Peter W. Singer, who practices SpecInt, or deeply researched science fiction.

Hopefully, by the time you’re through with all that, a slightly better future or two will have asserted themselves. If not, at least you’ll be able to prepare for the shitstorm.

Senior editor, OneZero, books, futures, fiction. Author of The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, founder of Terraform @ Motherboard @ VICE.

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