Sunday, December 27, 2009

The future is now

What a gutless century the 21st century has turned out to be. So far.

Insanely great things await us. We're like the wimps in the Bible who glimpsed the Promised Land and wet their pants.

"There's giants over there! They're scary!"

We see the vision. And it scares the crap out of us. We come running back with our tails between our legs. Ahhhh. The future is scary. Let's live in the past.

Why did America vote for George W. Bush? He was a bridge to the 19th century.
What's Osama bin Laden's appeal? He's a bridge to the 13th century.

I'm a science fiction writer.

I love the future.

My job, as far as I can see it, is to force myself to look at the future and honestly write about it. It's terrifying at first, yeah.

The future isn't wires. The future isn't cyberpunk. The future isn't rocketships and angry robots. It's not apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic or Calypso or apoplectic. The categories we've invented to imagine the future (as rigid as the notion of the Wild West in "Gunsmoke") don't apply.

The change we are facing is so basic our brains don't have categories to deal with it.

I have been to the mountaintop. I have seen the promised land.

It's all about stuff.

I'm talking material sciences.

Right now, stuff is either dead or it ain't.

You got rocks, steel, glass.

You got wood, straw, coral.

Rocks, steel, glass. Dead stuff? You can melt it in a mold, you can chop it up and mash it together, you can stamp stuff on it, you can glue it.

Wood, straw, coral. If it's dead, you can do what you do to dead stuff. If it's alive, you have to let it grow the way it wants to grow.

Nanotechnology, you mouth-breathing dopes, means we're moving into a world where we grow stuff. Where we grow everything.

You don't nail the chair together from pieces of wood.
You grow it.

You don't melt glass or plastic or clay and fuse it in the shape of a bowl.
You grow the bowl.

You don't put the car together from bits and pieces.
You grow it.

The distinction between dead stuff and living stuff will evaporate.

Everything will change.

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