Sci-Fi predictions of the future

Zambian author Namwali Serpell has written an interesting essay for this week’s Sunday Book Review of the New York Times. She covers a lot of ground, including her own work. I particularly liked this example of predicting the future:

I write science fiction set in the near future, so I’m constantly testing my own powers of prophecy. I once wrote a story about a germaphobic couple who want to have sex without touching. They purchase the “TouchFeely” — my nod to the “Feelies” in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” (1932) — an apparatus that includes an electrified dildo and a sheath that respond remotely to each other. The year after the story came out, I learned about Hera and Zeus, “the world’s first internet-enabled” sex toys. These “teledildonic” devices uncannily resemble my fictional invention. I was a little disconcerted. My story is a satire about bourgeois disconnection. My characters each start affairs with the bot. One ends up choking on the dildo. But I’ll confess: I felt a perverse pleasure, too. It was as if I had conjured something into existence — the dream of every artist.

Namwali Serpell, “When Sci-Fi Comes True“, New York Times Sunday Book Review, 16 March 2019, page 15.

From Wikipedia, I learned that Ms Serpell (born 1980) moved to the US with her family when she was nine years old. Her father is a psychologist and her mother is an economist. She is associate professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley and visits Zambia annually.

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