A ruling class and its courtiers living well in the capitol district as the outer provinces commoner struggles. The panopticon surveillance of citizens. A state so monstrously indifferent it’s ruined the healthcare of millions. A feral bureaucracy waging a shadow war against its master regime’s enemies. And a supposedly free people, themselves either so inattentive or corrupt, that they allowed it all to happen.

Fifteen years ago, this would have been an interesting exercise in science fiction world-building. Now, not only is that world built, but we’re trapped in it.

To be sure, dystopian SF is fun. At least in fiction, the bad guys have a chance of getting their just comeuppance, the loathsome order they’ve imposed often falling by the end of such works. And it’s easy to see why authors like writing it: not only does it fit with the zeitgeist, the genre almost by default makes the protagonist’s cause heroic and the stakes high.

But I’d like to see some brighter vision of the future, too. What a novel experience it would be, reading something recently published that was set someplace one wouldn’t mind their children living in. Stories where the society is worth protecting. Where a majority of your fellow citizens aren’t one class of ungrateful parasite or another, where the press doesn’t constantly lie to you, where "govern" isn’t a polite euphemism for "bully".

I realize that this wishlist reads like a recipe for utopianist fantasy. That’s more a sign of how far gone modern America is than a reflection on the request’s merit.

How about it, authors. Coming up with a future more worthy than the present’s slow-motion apocalypse–it doesn’t get any easier than that.

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