The future is now

I am currently watching the Venus transit via the NOAA Mauna Loa live webcast, though I will soon be going to bed. Ros and I stayed up to watch Venus make it to second contact because, well, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The next time Venus makes a transit across the sun will be over 100 years from now. Worth staying up for, even if I will be tired tomorrow.

One of the (many) things Kelly and I discussed was the future of science fiction as a genre; particularly, how to continue to depict things that are unfamiliar to our contemporary audiences. The previously recognisable ‘science-fictiony gadgets’ are now our reality: communicators and tricorders are smartphones and iPads. We have lasers, we have robotic sand fleas, we have the Internet. Sixty years ago, television was limited and still in black and white; today, nearly every home has one, digital and in colour, and here Ros and I are, watching a live webcast on my computer from a telescope in Hawaii while we sit in our pyjamas in Scotland. The future is now.

The next Venus transit will be in 2117: 105 years from today. What brave new world will watch the next transit, then?

And, thinking as a science-fiction writer, are we on the brink of a revolution in our own genre, a break from previous canon as we try to envision something new?

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