Bruce Sterling x Genre Fiction
Underground Reading: The Conscripts by Walter Winward

Grimpunk: Correcting the Grimpunk Future

How do you snap out of the grimpunk future? A grimpunk future is based on technological and cultural inertia  - how can a writer introduce the change necessary to make the future progressive again?

Two examples follow - one from comics (Warren Ellis' Orbiter) and one from television (Russell T. Davies' 'The Long Game').

1) Warren Ellis' Orbiter. Detailed depiction of dead-end future - no scientific progress & lackluster human ambition (in his introduction, Ellis even gives a specific source - the abandonment of the space race). Good grimpunk future history - but then future is kicked into gear by a distinctly non-grimpunk source (alien intervention).

The Long Game

2) Doctor Who '"The Long Game". Humanity is supposed to be a far-flung celestial race. Instead, human beings haven't even left the solar system - they're too busy working bureaucratic jobs and watching television. 

The status quo is a grimpunk future - but the episode itself is not. Grimpunk future has been created by alien intervention and is resolved by time travelers. May be grimpunk due to BBC production values but still some fantastic depictions of 'advanced' (yet unevolved) technology.

In both cases, the conclusion is a strangely pessimistic type of optimism. 

Although the stagnant, grimpunk future is 'solved' in a triumph of the human spirit, that triumph comes from an external factor. In Orbiter, that is due to an alien power. In 'The Long Game', it comes from time travelers (a time traveling alien, in fact). Humanity is seemingly incapable of breaking itself out of its rut.