We spend a lot of time thinking about the future here. (After all, it’s where we’ll be spending the rest of our lives.) Is it going to look like Clockwork Orange? Babel-17? Hill Valley circa 2015? If there’s a utopian community shot into space, will we make the cut? Popular Science has asked a stellar group of SFF writers and artists to imagine “How Life Will Be” in the future, and they’ve replied with a variety of micro-flash stories that create some fantastically diverse futures!
This installment of “How Life Will Be” focuses on where we’ll actually spend most of the rest of our lives—at work. What will employment look like in a world of 3-day workweeks, synesthetic sensation-gatherers, and asteroid miners?
Vandana Singh contemplates cities that have found ways to integrate nature into their designs. Elizabeth Bear posits that space itself has a scent that clings to you even within the safety of the airlock. Karl Schroeder and Ian Tregillis want you to give some thought to your career options, and James S.A. Corey wants to build a better astronaut. Each of these stories transcend their shared theme to create entire worlds worlds and instantly sympathetic characters in just a few lines.
The artists, meanwhile, imagine tower-gardens, orbital elevators, and the family dinners of the future. Daniel Dociu, speaking of his focus on satellites, said: “There are over three thousand satellites orbiting the planet, mapped diligently by Google Earth. It isn’t much of a stretch to imagine the future with Earth as Downtown, its suburbs spreading out to space, moving around yet connected, jostling for premium location, for a bigger share of free solar energy, perfecting zero gravity manufacturing processes.