About near-future SF

Back in the days, Regine's blog "We Make Money Not Art" was still called "near near future", a name I was really fascinated of, as it implied how the short term is on the verge of going something different, more curious with intriguing alternatives. The near future laboratory's rationale of course emerged partly from that logic. Recently, sci-fi writer Charles Stross posted a interesting text about what he means by "near future SF". His text is coincidentally very relevant to my fascination towards "near (near) future" design and foresight. Stross basically shows how "Near future SF is about how-to-get-there-from-here". See some excerpts I found relevant:

"near-future SF isn't SF set n years in the future. Rather, it's SF that connects to the reader's life: SF about times we, personally, can conceive of living through (barring illness or old age). It's SF that delivers a powerful message — this is where you are going. As such, it's almost the diametric opposite of a utopian work; utopias are an unattainable perfection, but good near-future SF strive for realism.

Orwell's 1984 wasn't written as near-future SF, even though he wrote it in 1948, a mere 36 years out: it explicitly posits a global dislocation, a nuclear war and a total upheaval, between the world inhabited by Orwell's readers and the world of Winston Smith. You can't get there from here, because it's a parable and a dystopian warning: the world of Ingsoc is not for you. In contrast, Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire is near-future SF (...) You're meant to think, "I could end up there" — that's the whole point of near-future SF."

He then distinguishes near future-SF from technothriller ("The high-tech stuff is window dressing") and the discussion in the comment section quite echoes some of the discussion we had at Design Engaged after Julian's presentation about science-fiction and design. Why do I blog this? sunday's thinking about the near near future, as well as recent discussion about this issue. Of course, this is related to my work as "near future-SF" is an interesting source of material for current design and foresight projects.