A few classes ago, I believe in the context of Oryx and Crake, we talked about the idea of creation or imagination as necessary. If something can be imagined, then it is, to a certain extent, possible. The rationale for this is that we cannot imagine something utterly impossible. Of course I could say in my dreams I have imagined myself flying independent, which in itself is impossible physically, but the idea of it is not impossible. I have seen birds fly; I have seen bugs fly. Therefore it is not imaginatively groundbreaking for me to impart that same quality upon myself and see myself flying around like Superman, though if I’m being honest I think I would be much less responsible than he is. In short, the argument holds that if we can think it, it is not untouchable.
I think this is such a valuable idea in thinking about Science Fiction. Robinson’s intro discusses this new emergent problem of a world seemingly running away from, in part because of our chasing of sorts. We are entering into an age where human kind “will double before it stabilizes” (2) and there is a significant amount of work to either quell such a situation or evade it altogether. While Robinson writes about the environment being a force we are destroying or overcrowding rather, he also mentions the entire sphere as an interdependent environment where we have set up houses and nuclear plants, both of which, however we want to view the world, are now part of it. Just as a tree grows and becomes part of nature, so too does a new fast food sign force itself into the same role with a different spin (some do; I think specifically Cookout’s signs spin).
We are at a turning point when our imagination has run rampant enough to in fact create a new world, one irreversible, even if we were to magically rapture off of the face of the Earth. The reality is that the world needs imagination even further. It is not a direct comment on the idea of the machine that Robinson talks about, but more of a comment on that sort of projected Utopia. I don’t think anyone is striving for a utopian society, but certainly there is a legitimate role for Science Fiction to think up a possible outlet or avenue for redirection as we move forward. It is not a matter of reversing what has been done; it is a matter of using what this world is like and continuing with it to a new place that is not so predestined as is imagined. It is not a reimagining, but an imagining further in the same context of Oryx and Crake, that we would think something (here through the lens of SF) and push toward a new, legitimate future.