It is now common practice for some thinkers, ranging from academics engaged in philosophical speculation about the nature of the future to professional futurologists, to argue that SF is a valuable adjunct to future studies.1 However, my thesis is that there are genuine problems in this relationship. These stem in part from the nature of "futurology," especially in its reliance on quantitative methodologies; but more significantly they stem from treating SF as functionally analogous to other futurological activities and valuing it accordingly. Specifically, difficulties arise when, in regard to the structure and function of models, the logical models (i.e. propositions), which futurologists employ in the present to "think about" change and organize "knowledge" for predicting future events, are not differentiated (as they must be) from the dramatic models (i.e. presentations) of SF which give form to the future and create attitudes for readers to use in organizing "action" in the present.
The future obviously matters to us. It is, after all, where we'll be spending the rest of our lives. We need some degree of foresight if we are to make effective plans for managing our affairs. Much that we would like to know in advance cannot be predicted. But a vast amount of successful prediction is nonetheless possible, especially in the context of applied sciences such as medicine, meteorology, and engineering. This book examines our prospects for finding out about the future in advance. It addresses questions such as why prediction is possible in some areas and not others; what sorts of methods and resources make successful prediction possible; and what obstacles limit the predictive venture.