Do a quick Google search for “positive science fiction novel” and you might be surprised. It seems that many of today’s SF authors believe we’ll wipe ourselves out with global warming, financial meltdowns, or another catastrophe du jour, before we have a chance to rise above our natures. Unless you reach back to the Golden Age, you aren’t going to read a lot of positive work about the transformative powers of science. Here are a few recent exceptions:
ACCELERANDO – CHARLES STROSS
Could be considered the “Singularity Bible.” This conceptually dense and technologically challenging novel takes us through the inflection point of the singularity, to a near-future solar system that has changed beyond recognition. Lots of fun with molecular assemblers, alien corporations, and Matrioshka brains.
DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM – CORY DOCTOROW
You know a book that starts with a line referencing the “death of death” is gonna be a neat ride, and this look at a culture in which reputation has replaced currency, and rejuvenation and body enhancement are de rigueur, doesn’t disappoint.
DIAMOND AGE – NEAL STEPHENSON
How does a book that starts with a thug getting a skull gun qualify as positive? Because it portrays a society in the middle of a convincing transition to post-scarcity; realistically depicts an alternative to the nation-state; and shows the power of education and story in transforming our fate.
SPIN – ROBERTCHARLES WILSON
One night, the stars go out. Earth is encased in a slow-time bubble, as the universe outside rushes towards its end, only twenty years away. Examining the last 20 years of Earth would be enough for many authors, but the people of Wilson’s earth decide to fight their fate by terraforming Mars, which is outside the bubble. And then the Martians show up…
A Deepness in the Sky – Vernor Vinge
What does a novel set eight thousand years in the future have to tell us today? In this case, quite a lot. In a universe where the speed of light is really the limit, we have spacefaring human cultures, believably odd aliens, and some hints at where the real transformations might come.
Many thanks to Jetse de Vries and Adam Rakunas, fellow SF authors, for validating these choices and suggesting others.