I begin this column with a confession of sorts. I am not a science fiction (SF) reader. And yet, I am intrigued by the recent commentary of renowned SF writer Neal Stephenson in World Policy Journal. Stephenson laments the loss today of the “techno-optimism” of science fiction’s Golden Age—from Tom Swift’s photo telephone, to radiotransporters and robots in the works of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, to James Bond’s inventive gadgetry.
Where are those sources of imaginative innovation today? Where is the counterbalance to the apocalyptic tones of so many writers (and game designers) and the scientific skepticism and innovation risk aversion emerging in the general public?