The New York Times

When Science Fiction Comes True

DO WRITERS OF SPECULATIVE FICTION HAVE SPECIAL INSIGHT INTO THE FUTURE?

Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia, it feels as if we’ve become obsessed with prophecy of late. Protest signs at the 2017 Women’s March read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!” and “Octavia Warned Us.” News headlines about abortion bans and the defunding of Planned Parenthood do seem ripped from the pages of Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985). And Octavia Butler’s “Parable” series, published in the 1990s, did eerily feature a presidential candidate who vows to “make America great again.”

In “: How Science Fiction Conquered the World,” Thomas Disch calls this relay between fiction and reality “creative visualization.” Businesses have started to co-opt it. The designers of the iPhone and the Kindle cite works of science fiction as inspiration. Boeing, Nike, Ford and Intel have hired prototyping, future-casting or world-building ventures — build rich speculative worlds, describe that world’s bounty and perils, and, finally, envision how that future might fall to pieces.” This is “speculative” fiction in the financial sense, too, a new way to gamble on futures.

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times5 min readPsychology
Becoming a Digital Grandparent
When it comes to warnings about limiting kids’ screen time, grandparents are, well, grandfathered in. Emerging from a theater on a recent Sunday, I turned on my phone and found a flurry of texts from my daughter. My 2-year-old granddaughter had just
The New York Times6 min readScience
Intermittent Fasting Made My Life Easier, and Happier
I could eat the foods I enjoyed and most of my regular meals, but it had to be within a short time frame of eight to 10 hours. At the urging of doctor friends and a few popular books, I embarked on a diet plan earlier this year called intermittent fa
The New York Times4 min read
6 Simple Barre Stretches to Try on Vacation
No matter where you are in the world, you can always find something to lean on so you can stretch your muscles. Traveling — even for fun — can be tough on our bodies. Hours spent in airline seats, heavy meals and long stretches of touristy walking or