Inside Outsider

18. Science fiction helps us make decisions

Worldbuilding is what many speculative fiction writers do. They construct new worlds, with new histories, geographies, customs and morals. They are inhabited by people like us, by entities unlike us, sometimes a mixture of both.

The future used to be something that lay beyond the present, ahead of us, towards which we were moving. Now we know the future is in the present. It is here with us now. Science fiction holds clues for how we need to approach our work in organizations, institutions and life in general.

I quote two of the world’s top science fiction writers whose work has influenced and will continue to influence us for decades to come.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be…Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.

Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today — but the core of science fiction, its essence…has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.”

Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

Science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future.

“There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.”

A few people have actually stepped into the future and are already living the workplace and work life in new ways. They know whatever they are doing is not permanent and they are continually scanning the horizon in all directions and working to continue their explorations.

Some of the people on my podcast Bold New Breed are already living specific dimensions of the future. As I interview different people, I discover so many different and complementary angles.

Can you help me?

I am looking for science fiction writers who have built worlds that can serve as stimulation for our thinking.

The writers and works I have looked at or are currently reading include: Ray Bradbury (The Toynbee Connector), Max Brooks (World War Z), Kim Stanley Robinson (The Ministry for the Future), Octavia Butler (Parable of the Sower), Ursala K Le Guin (The Dispossessed), Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash), Philip K. Dick (The Man in the High Castle), George R. Stewart (Earth Abides), Ted Chiang (The Story of your Life),  and Theodore Sturgeon (The Man Who Lost the Sea).

Can you recommend others? I’m especially interested in works that delve into human relations, society, organizational and institutional systems, individuals versus the crowd, and similar. Especially those that offer radically new visions of society and people?

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Thank you all!

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