Living in the Future


Sometimes I like to imagine that I could time-travel back to the 1950s and write a science fiction novel about my life here in twenty-first century America.

The more I think about it, the more certain I am that my book would be received as a dystopia. For ex:
• Punishing heat waves and flooding thanks to climate change.
• Massive disinformation campaigns orchestrated by the Russians, by one of our two major political parties, and by individual bad actors
• Pervasive social media that encourages and monetizes outrage and fury
• Several massive “islands” of discarded plastic swirling in oceans all over the world
• Billionaires riding rockets to the edge of the atmosphere as a vanity project while police toss the property of homeless people into Dumpsters
• Wildly addictive opioids

Even the changes that I think are positive social advances would have seemed like dystopia to them. When the Supreme Court decided Loving v Virginia in 1967, 98% 80% of the country was against interracial marriage. I’m not sure most ever imagined gay marriage, except as outlandish satire. The fact that we have Black Lives Matter protests–and that we still need them in 2021–would have been dystopic all in itself.

Me, I’m glad we’ve made those steps. It’s a slightly better world now that we have kids tv with same sex couples in them, for example. Readers in the 50’s though? Eh.

Sure, there’s stuff they’d be glad to see, like Wikipedia, or Shakshuka recipes on YouTube. Maybe artificial hearts. Maybe smart houses that let you switch off the lights with a voice command (never mind that the same smart house will record everything you do and say, Big Brother-style, for the corporations at the other end. Including your noisy sex).

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, we have moved recently, but only a few blocks from our old apartment. We’re higher on the hill now, and have fewer plants outside to muffle the noises of the neighborhood. New place is newer, with burners and light switches and bathroom vents and door latches that actually work, but I still would have preferred to stay in our old place.

It’s helpful that cafes and libraries are re-opening, because it means I have been getting out of the apartment and really getting work done. Progress on The Flood Circle has kicked into high gear, and let me tell you, that feels really fucking good, even if I have to wear a mask the entire time.

It’s nice to have that, at least.

Take care of yourselves.