Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (10 of 13): The Past of the Future

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

It’s day 10 of the 13-part Disquiet.com 25th anniversary countdown. Or, that time I got to ask novelists Richard Kadrey, Pat Murphy, and Rudy Rucker, “Where did the future go?”

Shortly after I moved back to San Francisco from New Orleans in 2003, I sat down with the three science-fiction writers to talk about two parallel topics, how both San Francisco and science fiction — the two “SF”s — had (at the time) hit a glass window called reality.

For the city at the time, it was life post-boom, after the internet bubble had collapsed. They joined me for Memphis-style barbecue in the Lower Haight to discuss earthquakes and cyberpunk, Sputnik and the Holodeck, the Gold Rush and bioengineering.

Murphy: I think when you’re writing fiction you’re aware of, like, 10 percent of what you’re doing. You might be aware you’re doing 10 percent, but the other 90 percent you realize when you look at it 20 years later.

Rucker: One of the interesting things to try and do is imagine an art form in, like, one thousand years, that would be something people might be doing instead of writing novels.

Kadrey: Science fiction is dealing with daily life stuck on fast-forward. We’re rewriting both the map of the world and our own genes. How can you write about life 20 or 100 years from now when you know that by Christmas some event or research is going to shake up your worldview?

This was for a magazine called Big, a single, special-issue shindig masterminded by David Peters and Rhonda Rubinstein.

At Disquiet.com, a few years later, I posted a longer version than fit in the magazine: “Lique-fiction.”

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