Snow Crash: The coming infocalypse?

Q Tech Opinion, Writing 3 Comments

I was over on one of my favorite websites, io9, when I spotted an article about how Neal Stephenson’s novel, Snow Crash, seems to have accurately predicted the future.

This is a reaction to a post from the Wall Street Journal, and I have to say that they have some valid points.  More after the break!

Look, Stephenson says that Science Fiction writers take a “shotgun” approach to tech, throwing out a whole bunch of likely ideas, some of which are bound to pay off.

He’s (mostly) right.  A GOOD science fiction writer does homework.  He or she talks to scientists, reads journals, uses the ol’ Google, and more.  This back-end work is imperative for a GOOD science fiction writer, because it grounds the work in reality.

People need to empathize with your characters, but they also need to be able to empathize and conceptualize the setting in which those characters live.  If someone can’t even begin to imagine what is going on around a character, than it’s pretty damn difficult to get that someone to keep on reading.

There are LOTS of instances where science fiction has met reality, and even more where science fiction has INFLUENCED reality.  For instance, Qualcomm recently held a “Tricorder X prize” contest which resulted in a company making a real, honest-to-God, tricorder.  For those unfamiliar, a tricorder is a gadget from Star Trek that can diagnose just about any ailment a human body can suffer.

That’s just one example, there’s also transporters, hyposprays, fusion drives, warp drives, cloaking devices, tractor beams, and a whole lot more.  Hell, those 6 examples were all off the top of my head and they were ALL from Star Trek.  How cool is that?

Let’s just hope Stephenson was wrong about reprogramming our brains with a bit of static on a screen.  No infocalypse for me, thank you.

So, if anyone is feeling particularly commenty, tell me your favorite sci-fi to reality invention or moment (leave a comment, I’ll love you for it).

Comments 3

  1. I’m rereading Snow Crash. In 1993 I thought it was hyperbole. This morning in the tub I threw the book across the room about a half hour after I saw the word “infocalypse.” (It took me that long to really think about the word.)

    I suddenly realized I had already experienced my own version of it by being completely overwhelmed by constantly reading about issues in the world to the point that is all I am doing – reading something from pixels. I reinforce my own opinions. I’ve almost stopped all action in the world other than daily maintenance.

    No art. No independent writing. No relations with fleshy humans other than family (in our perfunctory fashion). I’ve been assimilated into a “gel” of human voices with no real work getting done. It has been in the back of my mind since i retired a few months ago (I’m 65) but now it is right up front but I’m in that dream: running through water, not moving fast enough.

    Yours was the first “infocalypse” article I opened (not currently interested in online criminals). I’m surprised no one has commented. But, maybe no one is reading real books.

    Nice “talking to you.”

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      I know you left the comment a while ago (and I replied), but I was thinking about it some more, and you’re right. It’s incredibly easy to get sucked into an informational wasteland. For some reason, your brain keeps wanting more, and it’s become so easy to indulge, you can easily find yourself doing nothing else.

      It happens to me some days. Man, Neal Stephenson is kind of a genius.

      Also, thanks again for posting! 🙂

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