twelve sci-fi writers save the future
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 in
We’re a world beset by crises. Climate change, income inequality, racism, pandemics, an almost unmanageable tangle of issues. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.
We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to fix what’s wrong with the world. From the sixty-five stories we received, we chose twelve most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.
Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change, make war obsolete, switch to alternative forms of energy, and restructure the very foundations of our society,
The future’s not going to fix itself.
The rumbling increased to a roar, and more dark patches appeared in the green lagoon waters. So expensive. So laborious to stabilize what was left. But every bit worth it, in this moment.
A great spume of water sprayed high enough to throw a shimmer of mist across her face as the first part of the old city broke the surface. As the spume cleared, the top of the Campanile di San Marco rose above the water, green roof gleaming like new. A nice touch. The Restoration Guild must have worked overtime on that one. Its golden weathervane was gone, but the bas relief of the lion of St. Mark made her clutch her heart.
“Mamma, what’s the lion for?” She licked chocolate off her hands, desperate to make her afternoon snack last just a little longer.
“It’s the symbol of the city.” Mamma put her hand on Cinzia’s chest, patting it—boom boom, boom boom. “The beating heart of who we are.”READ MORE
Cinzia stumbled. It felt like yesterday.
“You okay?” Gio’s brow creased.
“I… sorry, yes. So many memories.”
Skipping over the bridges. The bad days of the quarantine. The corner market where mamma used to do her grocery shopping…
Another building broke the surface nearby—the Santa Maria della Salute, the beautiful basilica. Water poured off the gorgeous green domes in a thundering flood. They were mostly intact, though one of the smaller ones had a gaping hole—water poured out of it, cascading down to the lagoon like a waterfall, joining the general uproar of the Rise.
“Look, Kendra. You can see the outlines of the Canal Grande now.” The old waterway—the pulsing artery of the city—snaked away from them like a backwards ’S.’ In the distance, she could make out the edge of the Sestriere Cannaregio, the district where her mamma had lived in a modest apartment in an old stone palazzo that looked out on a concrete courtyard.
Waters rising, as it rained for close on a month, coming ever closer to their own second-floor balcony.
“What if the water doesn’t stop coming?” Cinzia stared out at the concrete courtyard, where the seawater swirled and churned.
“Don’t worry about that, tesoro. The water always stops, eventually. Now come here and help me with dinner.”
She had been lucky. She had survived.
All across the lagoon, the buildings of Venice were rising from the water. Many were broken, piles of bricks and debris covered with algae and surprised fish that flopped around on suddenly exposed land. The outlines of the city were becoming clear as water poured out of the buildings, churning the lagoon into a muddy, frothy mess.
A row of palazzos along the edge of the Canal Grande collapsed, sending up a deafening roar as they crumbled into rubble. Cinzia stepped back instinctively, pulling Kendra with her as the platform rose thirty meters into the air to avoid the cloud of debris that briefly rose above the lagoon before settling back to earth.
“Nothing to be alarmed about. Not all buildings were stabilized prior to the Rise.” Doctor Horvat’s lined face nodded reassuringly from the hovering screen before them, her voice broadcast across the world and to the Lunar colonies far above. “We expected some collapses. We will keep you away from the dangerous areas.”
“What if the city doesn’t stop rising?” Kendra grasped the railing, her gaze locked on the scene below.
Gio knelt next to the girl. “There’s no chance of that. The polyps have a very short lifetime…”
Cinzia was grateful to him. He probably understood the science behind all of this far better than she.
Her mind drifted.
They ate the last of the almond cantucci, savoring the hard cookies even though they were stale. Cinzia was still hungry, but she knew better than to ask for more. There was no more.
Outside, the rain had finally slowed to a constant drizzle.
Mamma ruffled her hair, managing a wan smile. “I need you to stay here, Cinzia. Someone will come for you, I promise. I will find us help.”
The helicopters had stopped coming days before, and the boats that had been plentiful the first few days, with men telling them to stay put, had bypassed their part of the city ever since.
The rumbling subsided.
Cinzia opened her eyes and looked around. For just a moment, there was absolute silence on the traghetto, along the shore, and on the sky board.
She looked over the railing.
Venice—her Venice—lay before her. It was in sad shape. Many of the landmarks she remembered were tarnished or broken. Whole zones of the city had collapsed, and except for Piazza San Marco, a green film covered the risen city. She was a ghost of her former glory.
But she was there, as solid and real as the hand before Cinzia’s face.
—From "Rise," by J. Scott CoatsworthCOLLAPSE