Addicted to the Future

Illustration for article titled Addicted to the Future

Earth is full of people who want to sell you cheap ways of seeing the future. They tell you tomorrow will be more of the same, with shinier toys. Or that work as we know it is about to end. io9 is the visionary watchdog who calls those charlatans on their shit. We're going to show you a new world that's shockingly different from what you're used to. And it's not always going to be a shiny happy place.


io9 is addicted to science fiction because it's the storytelling branch of prophesy. We'll be writing obsessively about scifi in every format: books, movies, TV, Web, comics, games, art, music, and fashion.

The problem is that science fiction doesn't always seek out the strange new worlds it purports to be cruising for. That's why we're plagued by franchises like Star Trek and Superman that return, again and again, to the historical times in which they were born. Superman is still basically an old-fashioned, small-town white boy in an age more suited to postcolonial urban hero-mutants; and Star Trek is a prisoner of the Cold War, rehashing old conflicts and stereotypes.

io9 is from an uncharted region in futurist culture. Our idea of science fiction includes things like Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica TV series, the architecture of Frank Gehry, and the writing of Michael Chabon. These creators don't cater to fanboys with trivia obsessions, and neither does io9.

It's not that we don't love a bit of the retro futurism you see in old Trek. Some of our favorite images and ideas about tomorrow come from decades, or even millennia, ago. But when it comes to contemporary ideas, we're looking for ways to leave the old Earth ways behind and get out of the Gernsback continuum. Futurist culture should be speculative, not derivative.

Also, the future isn't always fictional. Tomorrow has its seeds in the decidedly non-fictional realms of science, engineering, design and architecture. Today you can stroll around inside labs where people are casually cooking up new species and atomic structures. At io9, we believe you can't really understand what's next until you know whose ideas are currently changing the shape of our cities, bodies, and molecules.

Good science fiction begins with the present, where the line between what's real and what's speculative grows fainter every day. That's why we champion the novels of Iain M. Banks, Octavia Butler, and William Gibson: These authors deal with the future consequences of present-day science and politics. And it's why we're chuffed about movies like Gattaca and TV series Firefly, which don't rely on tired franchise tropes to build their compelling dystopian worlds.


By now, you're probably wondering what io9 means. Here's what WikiGoog will say about that in a hundred years:

io9s were marketed as cheap time machines in the 2070s. They were actually just low-grade input/output devices for the brain that tuned tachyon waves and gave users vivid images of possible futures. The things were so addictive, and drove so many people insane, that io9s were eventually outlawed. Today the word is just slang. io9ers are the early implanters who obsessively upgrade themselves with beta tech. People who tweak out on buggy brainware are sometimes said to have "gone io9." Science fiction writer Ken MacLeod has another term for io9s. He calls them rapture fuckers.


We're neophiles and we're not going to recover. Lucky for you, one of the symptoms of our neophilia is an obsessive need to share our stash with you, every nanosecond of every day. We'll make you want a better implant this time, one that will give you more of those astounding visions you saw here first.


Annalee Newitz

@putch: Unabashed fangirlishness, please! It's true that BSG has a lot of the same problems with wankery that ST has, and Moore did cut his writing teeth in the ST universe. The difference is that BSG really did re-invent itself in a way that ST hasn't. A lot of people watch BSG who would never have watched ST because it has smart human drama, as well as characters who are more than allegorical cutouts (OK there are some allegorical cutouts).