IMG_0371 Bruce Sterling, Adrian Simmons and Matt Cardin
at the "Imagining the Future: World Politics, Global Economies and More" panel.
For a panel about the future, it spent an awful lot of time discussing the great dystopian novels and cautionary tales of mid-20th century, such as "Brave New World" or "Canticle For Leibowitz". Someone raised a question why dystopias are so much more popular than utopias. The genre of dystopia is thousands of years old, as even the eviction from the Eden story in the Bible is a dystopia, suggested Kenneth Mark Hoover. Willie Siros argued that it's not a dystopian story, but merely an allegory for why we have marriage and nuclear family.
Bruce Sterling replied that writing a utopia is hard, because a utopia is stable and boring. There is no conflict. Kim Stanley Robinson tried to write a utopia in one of his California trilogy books, and was mostly about people having zoning debates. Because that's what you would do in a utopia -- have fair, just debates. Bruce Sterling also observed that no one who has raised teenagers would believe that a world without social conflict is possible. Even if the whole humankind devoted all of its resources to give happiness to just one person, they would not be able to achieve it. A guy from the audience argued that if your only problem in your life is whether you'll find someone you love and marry them, then you live in a utopia. And we have books like that. Another person pointed out that Iain Banks Culture novels are pretty close to utopias.
My blog posts from Armadillocon 2011:
ArmadilloCon 2011: What is Texas Weird, and other gems of wisdom from the writers' workshop.
What You Should Have Read This Year: writers, booksellers, critics, and other well-read people talk about the must-read science fiction and fantasy books of the year.
"Imagining the Future Without Fossil Fuels" panel -- will it be apocalyptic?
Technological Singularity panel: panelists analyze the feasibility of the common Singularity-related tropes.
Or see all my blog posts from Armadillocon 2011 as one page.