The New York Times

When Science Fiction Comes True

DO WRITERS OF SPECULATIVE FICTION HAVE SPECIAL INSIGHT INTO THE FUTURE?

Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia, it feels as if we’ve become obsessed with prophecy of late. Protest signs at the 2017 Women’s March read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!” and “Octavia Warned Us.” News headlines about abortion bans and the defunding of Planned Parenthood do seem ripped from the pages of Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985). And Octavia Butler’s “Parable” series, published in the 1990s, did eerily feature a presidential candidate who vows to “make America great again.”

In “: How Science Fiction Conquered the World,” Thomas Disch calls this relay between fiction and reality “creative visualization.” Businesses have started to co-opt it. The designers of the iPhone and the Kindle cite works of science fiction as inspiration. Boeing, Nike, Ford and Intel have hired prototyping, future-casting or world-building ventures — build rich speculative worlds, describe that world’s bounty and perils, and, finally, envision how that future might fall to pieces.” This is “speculative” fiction in the financial sense, too, a new way to gamble on futures.

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times3 min read
Drug Overdose Deaths Drop in U.S. for First Time Since 1990
After three decades of ever-escalating drug overdose deaths, the tide of fatalities may have finally started to turn. Total drug overdose deaths in America declined by around 5% last year, the first drop since 1990, according to preliminary governmen
The New York Times5 min readTech
Don't Scoff at Influencers. They're Taking Over the World.
As social media expands its cultural dominance, the people who can steer the online conversation will have an upper hand.
The New York Times5 min read
Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them.
Bob Ross appeared on public television for 11 years. In 381 episodes, he taught America how to make a painting. But when one of our colleagues decided he wanted to buy one of these paintings, a simple search yielded odd results. There were hundreds o