Viva la Revolucion!

keep-calm-and-viva-la-revolución-8People sometimes ask me how our world turned into Clair’s world. The answer is: I don’t have an answer that will hold up to close scrutiny. As David Brin once said, “Anyone who tries to predict the future is inevitably a fool”, so I’m not going to stick my neck out too far. It should be obvious, though, that climate change plays a big part, and there are a bunch of big changes that I’ve hinted at in Twinmaker that will become a whole lot more important in book two.

Some of those changes impact on two huge things we take very much for granted: democracy and capitalism. Unimaginable as that seems to us, both are overturned in a revolution some two generations before Clair is born. Here’s an excellent interview with Robert David Steele in The Guardian from last month that captures a lot of my recent thinking about what underlies Clair’s world. It contains so many quotable sections. Here is one:

“Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We’re there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting.”

One can hope. Things certainly seem screwed up as they are. I don’t think of myself as a political writer, but I am a political person (is it possible not to be?) and my thoughts in this area underlie every glimpse of the future I have engineered. What I imagine may seem strange, but as Christine Peterson of the Foresight Nanotech Institute once said:

“If you look out into the long-term future and what you see looks like science fiction, it might be wrong. But if it doesn’t look like science fiction, it’s definitely wrong.”


(The David Brin quote comes from his novel Earth, Christine Peterson’s from a Joel Achenbach article, ‘The Future Is Now’, in the Washington Post.)

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