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A View from Stephen Cass

Technology Review Goes From Fact to (Science) Fiction

Announcing TR:SF, an all-science fiction special issue, coming this fall.

  • May 31, 2011
An illustration by Alvim Corréa, from the 1906 French edition of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Credit: Wikipedia.

Many of the editors at Technology Review are long-time science fiction fans–like many scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, our interest in science and technology was sparked by a heavy diet of science fiction in our youth. For us, science fiction is another way to approach the same fundamental question that drives us as technology journalists–once something new has been created, how will it change the world?

Of course, as journalists we are necessarily limited in our speculations and modest in our predictions, while science fiction writers are free to indulge their imaginations with little constraint. Still, from time to time, Technology Review has published science fiction in its pages, with stories from writers such as Greg Egan and David Marusek. We’ve done this because we think these writers had something insightful and provocative to say, something that spoke to the issues raised by technology that can’t be captured in an economist’s forecast or an expert’s quote.

With so many real-world events and trends to cover in our pages, however, these forays into fiction have been brief and sporadic. Consequently, we’ve decided to create a stand-alone special issue devoted to science fiction, a collection of all-new stories called TR:SF.

The stories within will be hard-science fiction tales set in the near future, loosely organized around the areas that Technology Review covers: computing, the Web, communications, energy, materials, and biomedicine. We are currently finalizing our slate of authors, which are a mixture of celebrated and emerging authors; stay tuned for more announcements. We’re still ironing out the distribution details too, but TR:SF will be on U.S. and Canadian newsstands and available for mail-order purchase internationally (we’re also looking at how we might distribute the issue electronically.)

We’re excited about this chance to publish, in the words of Jason Pontin, Technology Review’s editor-in-chief, some “good old, clanking, near-future SF” that will provoke thought, spark imaginations, and may even help inspire some real-world innovation.

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