When Future Fiction Becomes Today’s Headline

This was originally a very short post that I wrote for Google+. I’ve expanded it to reflect how I’ve been thinking about near-future science fiction as a form of prediction. And how that was suddenly forced to change. It’s possible to write about one specific set of facts and give them many different outcomes, none of which will actually happen. SF sometimes attempts to be predictive, but it’s more pure luck than prescience at play when that pans out.

The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo this year is taken from news headlines and from quieter news that was barely noticed at the time I started working on it. It looks into a future about 40 or 50 years on, assuming that some current trends would continue and have major consequences. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years, off and on, making notes, doing research, thinking about what I want it to show and say.

There was no way that I could imagine its central idea showing up in real life any time in the very near future. Or in today’s news. I don’t know how to feel about it when I write a detail that I’ve never read about anywhere, and then see something very similar in the news.  The novel is set in a male-only internment camp, since separating single men from refugee women, children, and families is supposed to make the so-called transit camps safer.

The headline that provoked this post: “Canada’s Syrian refugee plan limited to women, children and families.” Single Syrian men will not be allowed to enter Canada. Granted, parallel isn’t exact. The current threats are far more serious than those in my novel, but it’s still disturbing, and not something I imagined could come about in today’s world. But that was naive of me, since it already happened, during WWII. While Japanese/American men were fighting in our armed services, their families and friends were being viewed as possible traitors and rounded up to be locked away in internment camps.  Japanese-Americans, both naturalized citizens and American-born, were torn from their homes and their jobs and treated like prisoners of war. Most of them lost everything they had worked for over the years, as their homes and possessions were stolen or sold off.

The parallel between the men of my novel and the Syrian men currently being denied admission to Canada is exact in one way: they are all refugees. My characters are homeless, having lost their livelihoods in a collapsing economy, or driven from the coasts by rising waters as climate change continues on its destructive path. News headlines that we see today are predicting the future when masses of refugees, whether from climate change, economic failure, or war, try to find safety somewhere far away from their troubles, and are refused, just as they are being refused today. We will see more internment camps, more mass drownings, and more murders as a response to “invasions” by foreigners.

 

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2 thoughts on “When Future Fiction Becomes Today’s Headline

  1. Many years ago, in the early 50s, I read a short story by Ray Bradbury about a man wearing a device that enabled his employers, or his wife – or anyone really – to reach him at any time – in the bus, while he was walking on the street, etc. Naturally enough, the man was very unhappy; he felt deeply his lack of freedom, his loss of time to refelct and think. I remember musing at the time about what a horrible society that would be to live in. Ho! It’s as you say: Yesterday’s sci-fi is tomorrow’s headlines.

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