The Crisis of Attention from Enlightenment to iPad

AP

Recently, my father, who has worked in technology education for a long time, texted me a picture from an airport restaurant in which he was eating. In the picture, a waiter stood at a table waiting for a family of six to finish looking at their iPads. Each person had bent his or her head to stare at the iPad screen, ignoring one another and the waiter.

Till We Have Faces

Genevieve Valentine (Ellen Wright)

At the core of every science fiction novel is a coherent theory, an implied, but boldfaced assertion of The Way We Will Live Someday. These dynamics make writing books set in the near future particularly difficult, even for the best authors. Predictions being what they are, which is to say nearly always wrong, near-future science fiction must navigate a narrow passage between two fatal hazards. Get too specific, and in a few years your book will take on the characteristic irrelevancy of an old newspaper article. Too broad, and things start to feel generic. Persona, Genevieve Valentine’s third novel, smashes squarely into the latter extreme, and fails as a result.