I’ve been thinking a lot about the fate of speculative fiction over the last week, and it’s been impossible for me to consider it without also thinking about the collapse of Dubai.
Take a look at these pictures and tell me that you don’t get a least a little bit of a hard SF vibe, or at least a feeling that you could play a level or two of Halo in that city, or a rebirth of Disney’s original dream of building an inhabitable amusement park.
And even though it was built in a desert halfway around the world, to me it looks like a kind of fictional American future—a mall city constructed in the middle of a desert on the cutting edge of technology and capitalism. Vegas and Wal-Mart smashed together under a repressive theocratic government.
We’d already heard a great deal about the corruption and suffering that lived behind the facade, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about in the months and years to come as the cracks widen.
Whether it lives or dies, it’s pretty clear that the dream of Dubai as a place where excess can birth mega-projects on a river of money is over now.
And the strains of Ozymandias keep ringing in my ears…
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.
So perfectly apt for this city built in the desert it’s almost ridiculous…