When I was reading that story about the Canadian researched who uncovered the “GhostNet”–the gigantic system of compromised computers around the world, one that appears to be run out of China, and to target organizations of interest to China–my first thought was “Huh, that’s almost right out of Stross‘ Halting State.
Apparently Charlie thought so too, since he just posted about it, closing with the lines:
I hereby declare HALTING STATE obsolete, eight years ahead of schedule!
My work here is done.
Of course, it isn’t just the “near-future” stuff that is in danger of becoming obsoleted by the progress of time.
Take, for example, Karl Schroeder‘s lovely and idea-dense novel Lady Of Mazes. It’s set in a much more distant future, and one that’s significantly more technologically distanced from us than Stross’ book, but it’s still vulnerable to becoming dated.
Karl himself points this out, in a post that looks at how a contemporary reading of some of the stuff in that book is a much less challenging exercise than it would have been at the book’s release. This revolves around how ideas/concepts/lifestyles that would have seemed alien and strange to most readers when it was a new novel–albeit alien and strange in a very well extrapolated and worked-out way–are much more pedestrian already.
Yeah, he’s talking about Twitter. (I’m still not doing it.)
I always thought reading SF would immunize me against future shock, but I’m used to the incubation period being a lot longer than it is lately, that’s for sure.