Over on the group blog Deep Genre, Infoquake author David Louis Edelman posts "The End of Science Fiction," in which he ponders if the lack of science fiction entertainment in the imagined worlds of science fiction novels doesn't indicate an assumption that SF will have served its purpose when the future arrives. I.e., the people on Star Trek seem to prefer historical dramas and mysteries in their holodeck games, given that they are out there exploring new worlds and civilizations as a day job. Or, as Dave puts it, "There’s no need to look off to some far-off feat of scientific progress because there are feats of scientific progress all around them." He references the iPod, which is undoubtedly the most SFnal gadjet this blogger's ever owned, and concludes by asking, "Perhaps the universe will one day become predictable enough — perhaps scientific change and progress will be so much a part of us — that looking into the future will just be an exercise of more-of-the-same."
Dave's question dovetails nicely with an article in the Houston Chronicle by Amy Biancolli which takes the occasion of the Transformers movie to wonder if there is a future for serious science fiction. In "The Future of Futurism," Amy asks, "Is science fiction thriving amid the pyrotechnics, or is it dying a slow and hideous death, suffocated by publishing-industry group-think and unimaginative movie execs drunk on sequels?" She then takes a survey of opinions that includes those of Monster Island author David Wellington - "It's much more respectable than it used to be," animator Craig Elliot - "There's too much bling on the screen," and artist Dave Dorman - "There's no better time in the history of films for science fiction...On the other hand, I think the writing of science-fiction films is not up to what it was..."
Of all the opinions, A Fate Worse than Dragons author John Moore's offers the most useful thought. "Science fiction is the present. We live in a science-fiction society, and I don't just mean the gadgetization of society... projecting into the future, once the province of the science-fiction writer, has become our dominant way of thought." Or, as Amy concludes, "In an age defined by the Internet, designed by software technicians and dominated by fan-driven campaigns in the blogosphere, science fiction and its fanatics have at last nestled into the mainstream."
Looking at the wealth of SF she cites, on screen and in print, good and bad, excellent and ridiculous, it looks to me that when "scientific change and progress" truly become a part of us, as Dave speculates, the result isn't the end of SF but a renaissance of it.
Or, as James T. Kirk said all those years ago (and in the future!) at the close of The Undiscovered Country, "Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven’t run out of history just yet."