Pretty soon, we’re going to need a genre that labels books that might once have been science fiction, but are now closer to realistic fiction. I’m calling it “pre-realism”.
As I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars for the first time, I’m fascinated by the sheer plausibility of the ideas. And as humanity works on putting people on Mars, the first colonizing/terraforming project might not be too many generations in the future. It might not be too many years in the future.
Sure, this is a process that would likely take a lot longer than Robinson’s proposed timeline, but the science and psychology is uncanny for this “hard sci-fi” phenomenon. Especially the psychology.
I’m finding that science fiction’s near prophetic ability to understand the trajectory of human nature’s choices is probably worth a lot more attention. It’s no wonder Arthur C. Clarke wrote of Red Mars that it should be “required reading” for the planet’s first actual colonists.
Perhaps instead of learning from history to keep from repeating past mistakes, we can learn from pre-realism to keep from repeating the future mistakes of fictional characters who are way too real for comfort.