Foresight consultancy; worldbuilding redux

Remember me linking to Jamais Cascio’s post about worldbuilding a little while ago, where he said that what he does (foresight consultancy, or what used to be referred to as ‘futurism’) is a remarkably similar skill to science fiction writing in some respects?

Well, here’s Jamais on the Worldchanging blog, pitching four brief potential future scenarios set three decades from now, showing the potential results of different reactions to the climate change issue. I’ll quote one as an example:

02037: I stumbled across a memory archive from twenty years ago, before the emergence of the Chorus, and was shocked to see the Earth as it was. Oceans near death, climate system lurching towards collapse, overall energy flux just horribly out-of-balance. I can’t believe the Earth actually survived that. I had assumed that the Chorus was responsible for repairing the planet, but no — We told me that, even by 02017, the Earth’s human populace was making the kind of substantive changes to how it lived necessary to avoid real disaster, and that 02017 was actually one of the first years of improvement! What the Chorus made possible was the planetary repair, although We says that this project still has many years left, in part because We had to fix some of We’s own mistakes from the first few repair attempts. The Chorus actually seemed embarrassed when We told me that!

OK, so it doesn’t have the snap and crackle of the prose of a practiced novelist, but that’s a slice of science fiction right there. I know for a fact that Karl Schroeder does this sort of work for a living, too; maybe foresight consultancy will be an industry where sf writers can use their skills to earn a good living in times to come?

Go and read the whole post, by the way. The scenarios are hauntingly familiar to any sf reader, and there’s some serious food for thought there.

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