Urban Science Fiction?

First of all, I apologize.  I’ve been doing a lot of writing entries lately, and I generally try to do an even mix between writing, reading, and general gushing over things like Landsquid and space shuttles and chocolate chip muffins.  I shall try to restore the balance.

(Serious, chocolate chocolate chip muffins?  Best Ever.  Plesiosaur approved.)

(Also, be aware that when you decide to do research on the internet, you will invariably be eaten by either Wikipedia, TVTropes, or, apparently, websites with ghost stories on them.)

Wait, I had a point.

Have you ever noticed that poor Scifi gets a bit shafted on the subgenres?  Fantasy has them out the wazoo, and it’s not like Scifi doesn’t, it’s just that no one ever talks about them.  We could get into a big, long discussion on where the division is between Scifi and Fantasy but I suspect no one really cares but me.  Suffice it to say, in my mind, science fiction tends to be defined by the keyword “science” – i.e. any story that features technology outside of the appropriate time period.

A lot of Scifi is readily apparent – it features space ships and aliens and evil satellites that very obviously scream “LOOK AT ME I AM THE FUTURE” (easily excitable, scifi), but I’ve noticed there’s also another vein of scifi where the future/science lurks just under the surface.

I’ve been calling this Urban Science Fiction (as somewhat of a companion to Urban Fantasy).  Perhaps there’s a better term.  These tend to be stories that could be tomorrow, with direct consequences of today’s technologies, today’s societies.  They tend to be set in the very near-future, in a world very similar to our current one.

I admit I find the premise fascinating.  It shows the direct consequences of what we’re doing today.  On the other hand, it can be poorly done, with the author beating the reader over the head with whatever message they’re trying to portray.

What’s your opinion of near-future, real world scifi?  Do you prefer your scifi with a side of faster-than-light drive and a serving of energy weapons?  Any book recs?

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Catana on 2011/03/23 at 4:39 PM

    The FTL stuff bores me to tears. I prefer SF that takes our real world into the near future and presents us with a lot of what-ifs. Books about people wrestling with technology, cultural change, etc., will get my attention ahead of fantasies about moon settlements.


  2. I agree that near-future SF runs the risk of being more didactic: “This will be OUR world in 20 years unless we…” I’ve certainly read enough of that kind. Some recs:
    – Elizabeth Bear’s Jenny Casey trilogy, starting with Hammered (set in 2062, maybe that’s too far?)
    – William Gibson (interesting tidbit: he has now started writing contemporary thrillers, because the world has caught up to what he was writing before!)

    I’ve heard many good things about Cory Doctorow’s YA novel Little Brother, but haven’t read it yet.


  3. I enjoy both, as long as they’re character-driven. I really love Resonance, by Chris Dolley. (free download at the link or Baen.com)


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