I thought that this review by Niall Harrison at Strange Horizons of James Bradley’s Clade was pretty fascinating and extremely useful. I like that he acknowledges the potential disconnect between the reality we’re headed toward and the way this reality is depicted in fiction—and just how difficult it is for fiction writers to tackle the subject. I also understand his point about “hyperobjects” and agree to an extent, but my point about hyperobjects, as discussed in my “Slow Apocalypse and Fiction” essay is really the same as Harrison’s: that any term we do use had better be complex enough to really help us make a paradigm shift in our thinking, because the very problems we face have occurred because we’re too simplistic in our thinking. That term could be “Fred” if Fred does the job, as far as I’m concerned. But, alas, Fred won’t do the job. We’re already running too much of our software using Fred.
The exasperating thing is that good writers are forever meant to be running data through bullshit machines that live in their heads—all while recognizing that writers are no more or less absurd or irrational than anyone else. If your bullshit machine dies, then you die on the page. But it is harder than ever for the bullshit machine to work in the current era–or to keep up with the ways in which the world outside of fiction has become fictionalized, fragmented, and layered with storytelling.