Trend toward Technology for the One Percent: A New Theme for Science Fiction

"I glimpsed the future." That's what Jenna Wortham wrote in a recent New York Times article reviewing  the new Google Glass, the futuristic computer eyewear that lets you shoot video and read your email. A fascinating new technology but likely to be very expensive (around $1500 when it comes out later this year). 

Ms. Wortham wondered whether there was a "trend toward technology for the 1 percent", summing up the Google innovation as "a new leap, but for how many of us?"  

The social dimension of technological progress is increasingly coming to the fore, a perfect new theme for Science Fiction. 

Add the revolution in literature caused by the rise of Boomer Lit, and an exciting new brand of Science Fiction is born. Boomer concerns - how to address aging and the so-called Third Act in life - are bound to affect Science Fiction and give rise to a new raft of sci-fi stories with a different focus, more socially aware. So the question is: can Boomer Lit that covers so many genres, from romance to fantasy, also extend to Science Fiction?  

At first sight, the answer is no: science fiction is a futuristic genre, set either on this Earth or some other planet. Boomer Lit is aimed at Baby Boomers and their concerns as they approach retirement age.

Can you imagine boomers as sci-fi heroes, thrown in the future or alternative times and parallel spaces, struggling with  aliens, androids and robots, traveling faster than light?

Well…I can! Okay, not all of Science Fiction, but the stories that place aging, love and death front and center. Why? Because science fiction is a "device" used by writers to "discuss philosophical ideas such as identity, desire, morality, and social structure" (ref. Wikipedia). And that’s precisely what Boomer Lit does. 

The difference between the two?  timing. In sci-fi terms, the central Boomer Lit question becomes: How will our society handle aging in future given probable technological advances?

Recently, I’ve been haunted by this question - no doubt because, as so many boomers, I am facing now my own aging (yes, wrinkles threaten!) and I have to take care of my elderly mother, she will be 100 years old this year. So I began to dream of a future where medical science had solved the problem of aging, saving us from the discomforts and diseases of the elderly.

Imagine that: you look young all your life until you drop dead. Perfect bliss? Or might you be missing out on something?

Being a writer, it is a question I prefer to answer with fiction rather than philosophy. 

Hence the birth of my serial novel 2213:Forever Young

It’s a safe bet that 200 years from now we’ll have a fully functioning technology for staying young. And it is also likely that it will be tremendously expensive. With our current economic system, technical advances, even when they cost little to produce (like contact lenses or aspirin), reach the market at very high prices. And stay that way even when the cost of production has dropped dramatically. Because big corporations (claim they) need to finance their future research…

With income inequality on the increase worldwide since the 1970s, it is fairly obvious that we are headed towards a Society characterized by a Great Divide between the One Percent and the 99 Percent. It is equally obvious that the technology to stay young will be extremely costly and therefore only the ultra rich will access it.

With what results for the rest of us?

That is what 2213: Forever Young explores. Can such a book be considered Boomer Lit? I recently asked the question to my fellow members in our Goodreads Boomer Lit Group and it sparked an interesting discussion that you can read here. There were some doubters but most agreed that it probably could.At least one mentioned she had written a story about a rejuvenating pill and its dire consequences.

Questions for you: Can Science Fiction be a sub-genre of Boomer Lit? Do you see the trend toward technology reserved for the One Percent as a new theme for Science Fiction?

PLEASE NOTE THE DOUBLE PROMOTION to celebrate the publication of Part Two of 2213:Forever Young:

From 10 to 14 May Part One is FREE and Part Two costs only 99 cents.

Click here for your free copy of Part One.
Click here for your 99 cents copy of Part Two.

Hurry, the promotion lasts only 5 days (afterwards, the price returns to its normal level of $1.99)

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