WHEN I BEGAN writing A Scientific Romance 15 years ago, I pictured the ruins our civilization might leave behind if it died from its own folly like so many others. My tale is set in Britain and told by an archaeologist who travels to the year 2500. I made satirical extrapolations from things in the news. A character dies of mad cow disease, climate change turns wintry London into a tropical swamp, genetically modified organisms run amok. Such risks were still moot in the early 1990s. But by the time the novel came out in 1997, dozens of people really had died of mad cow disease, and even George Bush now admits that climate change is real. I’m not claiming any gift of prophecy; the signs weren’t hard to read. Fictional nightmares, like most bad dreams, arise from inconvenient truths.

– Ronald Wright, February 2008

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