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 Times2 min readSociety
Ask Well: When Is the Best Time to Get Your Flu Shot?
(Science Times) ; (Ask Well) Immunity to the flu virus may wane over the course of the flu season, so you don’t want to get a flu shot too early, or too late.
The New York Times5 min read
Elton John Puts Down in Words How Wonderful (and Weird) Life Has Been
The rock star’s memoir, “Me,” traces his path from suburban homebody to superstardom and beyond.
The New York Times5 min readTech
How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct
Google has now given us an option to set search and location data to automatically disappear after a certain time. We should all use it.