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What Some of the Greatest Science Fiction Writers Thought 2012 Would Be Like

25 years ago, a group of writers and scientists offered their visions of today's world. What did they get right? And what did they miss?

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Jack Williamson (the science fiction grandmaster who coined the word "terraforming") tempered his despair with hope -- as we all should:

If we had a time-phone, now in 1987, we would beg you to forgive us. We have burdened you with impossible debts, wasted and polluted the planet that should have been your rich heritage, left you instead a dreadful legacy of ignorance, want, and war.

Yet, in spite of that, we have a proud faith in you. Faith that you have saved yourselves, that you are giving birth to no more children than you can love and nurture, that you have cleansed and healed your injured planet, ended hunger, conquered crime, learned to live in peace.

Looking toward a better future for you than we can see for ourselves, we trust that you will use your computers and all your new electronic media to inform and liberate, not to dominate and oppress, trust that you will employ the arts of genetic engineering to advance the human species and make your children better than yourselves. We know that you will be inventing new sciences that would dazzle us, opening brave new frontiers, climbing on toward the stars.

We live again through you.

And I'll give Gene Wolfe the last word:

It is of course to you of this counterculture that I write to say, take heart! Twenty-five years is no great length upon the long scale of history. In my time too, the age was dark. But we are summoning the sun. 

The age is indeed dark -- darker than anybody in 1987 could have possibly foreseen. But we still have a future to make. And we're still summoning the sun.

Sara Robinson edits AlterNet's Visions page. A trained social futurist, she's particularly interested in change resistance movements.

 
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