Thursday, November 12, 2009


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to see what the country would be like in the future. In some ways, my request was answered in the guise of Metatropolis, five short stories edited by John Scalzi. Five authors created a not too distant future, where the governments of the United States and other major countries have collapsed. What are left in their places are pockets of cities centered on green technology and high tech communications.

Several concepts fascinated me. I have been interested in the concept of memes. One of the stories describes a city that is disbanded so that its ideas can be transmitted around the world. Conversely, another story describes “turks” for covert activities. Basically people are paid to do one tiny task, such as walk a package a few blocks, without knowing their part in the larger scheme. They can never be successfully interrogated or held accountable, because they just don’t know. Another concept is mobile societies, like the nomads of old except connected by technology. My favorite concept was a virtual world laid over a physical world using technology embedded in glasses. It begins as a sort of video game, but towards the middle becomes much more complex, representing a true society.

The world the authors created was fascinating to me, neither bright nor dreadful. It did open up my mind to new possibilities, which to me is the reward of enjoyable science fiction.

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