Otherworlds and Underworlds: Filthy Futures in Roadside Picnic and Neuromancer

More often than not, science fiction depicting the future on Earth conjures up spick-and-span cityscapes: gleaming streets and towers, an ordered and efficient environment, and hidden danger disguised as benign societal mechanisms. What’s seen less often are chaotic, dirty, bucket-of-bolts futures where menace lurks around every corner and people spill out, swearing, from grungy dives. These filthy worlds represent a vision of the future that is not idealized into utopia, nor even slicked back into dystopia. These stories envision a situation similar to our current lives, realistic in its corruption, no matter the fantastic elements included. Two important examples...

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