I’ve been harboring a disatisfaction for a while now – a genre-specific ennui or maybe a ‘presque vu‘ for a setting I’ve not found yet. I keep wondering where the cool has gone – where the slinky sexy brain-popping amazement at a world that makes me ache to learn more about it. Not just one world, either – but a raft of them – a set of settings, a Venn diagram of visions, a taste of a future.
But I can’t find it. I want the new that’s newer than new, and everything I’m seeing looks like it was hit with a mallet in the late 90’s and stands there stunned and stationary. Take a look at the media that’s around – and you’ll find the ‘future’ is drawn with an architects care – it’s been shaded in, coloured, lit and polished and ever so dead. It’s evil corporations and punks with mechanical hands, it’s kids hacking into their school computers and heroines on cyber-heroin. It’s bloody well been done!
Where’s the new! Where’s the stuff that makes me reel with the possibilities – makes me wonder how I couldn’t see it coming, and how we can possibly manage to ride that rollercoaster? I don’t mean uploading consciousnesses into the singularity, I certainly don’t mean augmented reality in the daily life – nor clones, genetic engineering or any other dozen or so passe cyberpunk identifying marks that are in most instances – OLDER THAN I AM.
I mean really – the screenplay for Bladerunner was written when I was deciding whether to be a breech birth or a C-section – and it was based on a book from 1968! That was 44 years ago, and our vision of ‘the future’ has barely moved on.
I’m desperately hoping that I’m just looking in the wrong places – that I only have myself to blame for using old search terms like cyberpunk (no – I have no interest in neon-coloured dreadlocks and spiked goggles, thanks), singularity and sci-fi. That, like some equally cliched fantasy character, if I could only find the right magic word, I could unlock a wealth of brain-buzzing wealth.
At the heart of it, though, is an annoyance with myself – surely, if I knew what I was looking for – really knew – then I’d be able to find it. But I don’t know – much like pornography, I believe I’ll know it when I see it. I keep getting little flashes of interest – a piece of concept art here, a collection of short stories there – but it all seems so… decadent? On the decline? Like the Roman Empire in its final days. Comfortable in its skin and evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Where is it? Where is the new? What’s the magic searching word and where’s the raw, rough, risky vision of a mindblowing future that chews me up and spits me out?