Why is it always raining in the future?
Our fictional futures are all dimly lit and darkly cynical.
Is this our fate? Is the future destined to be hell on earth?
Does every version of our future include neon Coca-Cola billboards and authoritarian robot overlords?
Or are we just projecting the unhappiness of our present lives into our wildest nightmares?
We don’t get the future of our dream. We get the future that we build.
And who creates the future first?
Science fiction writers.
So when our most futuristic minds create fatalistic worlds full of death and misery, that’s what we expect from life. And that’s what we get.
Worldbuilding can be so much better.
When we look out our windows and it’s raining, it’s never just dark and rainy.
There are always other details: a stunning swirling pattern in the clouds; a rare blue flower poking out of a sea of red petals; a hundred-year-old tree catching all the rain it can hold; a dad smiling while his daughter jumps in a puddle, yellow leaves kicking up with the wind and off the toes of her tiny yellow boots.
Beauty can be found everywhere, now and in the future.
But we see what we want to see.
When we’re depressed, it’s raining everyday. The sun comes out and we’re still in a gray fog, locked up inside expecting it to rain again any minute now.
We project that darkness everywhere, in ourselves, on our family and friends, to strangers through the internet, and into the future with our art.
This is especially true for cyberpunk, neon-filled dystopias where the only way to survive is to destroy the system.
But our future is like that hundred-year-old tree — with thousands of branches, large and small, spreading out in every direction.
We control which future we get.
What if we stopped obsessing over bad futures and started exploring good futures?
This is utopiaforming: optimistic worldbuilding that shapes a better future.
In so many dystopian futures, a few lucky, brave heroes escape a dying Earth and transform another planet to make it habitable (AKA terraforming).
Let’s imagine a future where we’ve transformed Earth into a utopia. A world of abundance, where everyone is free to chase their potential. Not a perfect world, but a more utopic one.
Utopiaforming is how we solve the World’s Biggest Problems.
We need to inspire the world’s most ambitious people to engineer world-changing solutions.
Before we can create a better future, we have to imagine it, design it, simulate it.
Optimistic science fiction has the power to inspire and shape a more utopic future.
As Oscar Wilde wrote, “progress is the realization of utopias.”
There is no silver bullet here. We’re going to need a lot of lead bullets. So we need everyone taking shots at the world’s biggest problems.
We must create a vision of a near-future society that is both utopic and realistic.
Science fiction is not fantasy. So many of the gadgets we saw in Star Trek actually exist now, not just because their writers were so prescient, but also because these stories inspire generations of creators to invent the future.
We can create futures filled with life and hope. Where problems get solved and people mostly get along.
These are the futures we deserve. The futures we create.
We all love a happy ending. There is no vision more compelling than the story of a better tomorrow.
Storytelling is power. Stories can change the world.
This power can be used for good or evil.
The biggest lie these dystopian stories tell us is that we are powerless against the future forces of evil.
We have all the power. It’s our future. We are the ones creating it right now.
Whether you’re a writer, creator, or both, you hold the power to predict the future by inventing it.1
And anyone can be a creator now. The tools we need to invent are cheaper and more freely available than ever. Anyone can write a short story and publish it globally today.
Use your power. Share your vision for a better world and start building it.
We are not destined to a dystopian future.
Throughout history, authoritarian forces have been built like the Titanic – “invincible” against a four-alarm fire but powerless against a five-alarm flood.
We are the flood that will usher in a more utopic future.
We can put out the fires of our predecessors and rebuild on the ashes a better world.
This is not an escape. This is not a rebellion. We are creators, not destroyers.
We can build the future of our happiest dreams.
Heaven on earth.
We are as gods and might as well get good at it.
Our future is in our hands. Let’s make it utopic!
If you have any utopic ideas, I’d love to talk with you! Tweet or DM me @neilthanedar and let’s riff on solutions to the World’s Biggest Problems!
- The famous quote “the best way to predict the future is to invent it” is widely attributed to Alan Kay, but it is not a direct quote from him. According to Bob Metcalfe, Alan Kay was originally quoting Robert Heinlein.