Just last week the Department of Homeland Security invited science-fiction writers to help them forecast the future, to jiggle the portals of imagination using scientific possibilities.
How strange is that? Not very, really. Early sci-fi authors drew fantastic worlds that are now our reality. Jules Verne was scooting around in space and underwater before we sent rockets to the moon or pressurized ourselves against the ocean depths.
So if Greg Bear, who was MC at the DHS conference, imagines a City at the End of Time, who are we to pooh-pooh such far-sighted vision? When I interviewed Bear last year for a newspaper article, he said he is like radar for deep structures of science and society. When we put those two together, he said, we have a story.
Rolf Dietrich, DHS deputy director of research, told the Washington Post that the authors help department managers think more broadly about projects, especially about potential reactions and unintended consequences.
And that got me to thinking that reactions and consequences are what good stories in any genre are about. Any thoughts on this?