Dear science fiction writers: stop being so pessimistic!
March 21, 2012 | Source: Smithsonian Magazine
Stephenson has seen the future — and he doesn’t like it.
Today’s science fiction, he argues, is fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios — think recent films such as The Road and TV series like “The Walking Dead.” Gone are the hopeful visions prevalent in the mid-20th century.
So in Fall 2011, Stephenson launched the Hieroglyph project to rally writers to infuse science fiction with the kind of optimism that could inspire a new generation to, as he puts it, “get big stuff done.”
The Hieroglyph project’s first concrete achievement will be a sci-fi anthology from William Morrow in 2014, full of new stories about scientists tackling big projects, from building supertowers to colonizing the moon. He and his collaborators want to avoid pessimistic thinking and magical technologies like the “hyperspace” engines common in movies like Star Wars. And, he adds, they’re “trying to get away from the hackerly mentality of playing around with existing systems, versus trying to create new things.”
Stephenson’s greatest hope is that young engineers and scientists will absorb ideas from the stories and think, “If I start working on this right now, by the time I retire it might exist.”