The BBC has an interview with Bruce Sterling and, despite being a man with a new book to plug (which I’m about 0.25 of the way through reading, incidentally), he doesn’t have much faith in the power of science fiction novels to change the world, despite their greater modern relevance:
“People don’t pay attention to novels. The socially important parts of American communication are not taking part in novels. You can write them but they are not changing public discourse.
“You can also say that everybody in society has moved up a notch and everybody just wants the executive summary.”
Science fiction, he says, has as much relevance in today’s world of seemingly relentless scientific endeavour across many different fields as it did in the past when the perception of the pace of change was arguably slower.
He says: “Science fiction writers are not suffering from the pace of development. We’re suffering much less than stockbrokers and financiers from that pace of change.”
That makes a certain amount of sense; after all, an sf writer is trying to steer his imagination through the currents of the near future, while a stockbroker is trying to steer an intangible and evaporating block of digital money that in many respects doesn’t really exist at all… I know which job I’d rather have. 😉