In a 2015 panel discussion with Bjarke Ingels, Sir Ken Stanley Robinson asked why it is easier for Americans to imagine terraforming mars than a 35% corporate tax rate.
Perhaps this was asked with a tinge of jealousy towards the recently optioned “Leviathan Wakes” space opera serial novel, as his Mars and California trilogies have gone notably unadapted; though at its core points to an inelasticity in the imagination of America.
Robinson exists today as a dying breed of science fiction practitioners who could leverage their skills to illustrate in depth a better world extrapolated form the mess we are currently in. In scope of worlds created based on scientific and economic detail provided, he is rivaled only by Roddenberry.
Roddenberry’s premier work in creating the Star Trek universe stands as deteriorating monument to this modern slide in imagination, as he would assuredly be aghast at the “sabotage” JJ Abrams has perpetrated against his federation of logic.
We work in an imaginative space that doesn’t extend beyond technology’s capability to wage war; not exactly a stretch of vision given the impending snap of post-war peace we are seeing play out on twitter. This decades most exciting sci-fi work with the capability to envision technology forging a new more equitable backbone of society, Westworld, descended into a prototypical climax of gun violence, and with the faceless executives so did die a chance at telling a story of progress.
Peter Frase details in Four Futures four different ways an organized economy and automation can direct us towards a markedly better, or worse, future; and as we sit at an impasse before automation seeps through our lives we lack a vision for anything but cataclysm.
As science fiction tends entirely towards dystopia, there was some hope of Cli-Fi taking up the mantle of envisioning a better world, though those turned out to be Emmerich disaster affairs that read more as pre-emptive documentaries. The sea is rising from the ground in Miami, Antarctic icecaps are outpacing the most cynical projections, we won’t be scared into solving problems. At this moment an ice sheet the size of Delaware is breaking off of the coast of Antarctica.
The lack of stories we have to tell matters, and it effects the policies we must be working toward right now. It becomes increasingly hard to justify a 35% corporate tax rates and the initial economic pain that would accompany it if we have no vision of how to apply that towards a better society. We have a wealth of new technologies in our sights but no high minded applications. With each blaster led narrative, We are slouching towards Blade Runner.