The New York Times

When Science Fiction Comes True

DO WRITERS OF SPECULATIVE FICTION HAVE SPECIAL INSIGHT INTO THE FUTURE?

Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia, it feels as if we’ve become obsessed with prophecy of late. Protest signs at the 2017 Women’s March read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!” and “Octavia Warned Us.” News headlines about abortion bans and the defunding of Planned Parenthood do seem ripped from the pages of Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985). And Octavia Butler’s “Parable” series, published in the 1990s, did eerily feature a presidential candidate who vows to “make America great again.”

In “: How Science Fiction Conquered the World,” Thomas Disch calls this relay between fiction and reality “creative visualization.” Businesses have started to co-opt it. The designers of the iPhone and the Kindle cite works of science fiction as inspiration. Boeing, Nike, Ford and Intel have hired prototyping, future-casting or world-building ventures — build rich speculative worlds, describe that world’s bounty and perils, and, finally, envision how that future might fall to pieces.” This is “speculative” fiction in the financial sense, too, a new way to gamble on futures.

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times9 min read
Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want?
Slack is coming for your job. The workplace chat company, valued at more than $7 billion at the time of its last funding round, is going public this week. It claims to already have more than 10 million daily users and, in its listing prospectus, bill
The New York Times7 min readSociety
Vaccine Injury Claims Are Few and Far Between
(Science Times) At a time when the failure to immunize children is driving the biggest measles outbreak in decades, a little-known database offers one way to gauge the safety of vaccines. Over roughly the past dozen years in the United States, people
The New York Times6 min readSociety
Eager to Limit Exemptions to Vaccination, States Face Staunch Resistance
As measles spread across the nation earlier this year, 71 residents of Vancouver, Washington, fell ill, most of them unvaccinated children. So state Rep. Paul Harris, a Republican representing the district, sponsored a measure to limit exemptions fro