Arguing with reviewers? Don't.
On The Other Hand
Actually, I'm not planning on arguing with reviews or reviewers. I've wanted to point out for some time my thinking on my 29th century universe where much of my writing takes place. Six years ago, in February 2003, my short story "Lines West X4334-W" won Second Prize in the N3F National Fantasy Fan Federation 2002 Short Story Contest. Besides being my very first "pay day" for writing, I was amused by the comment from the judge that he wasn't sure there'd be trains in the 29th century. Well, he's right. There might not be. On the other hand, you have to admit it's a very efficient system for moving large amounts on land -- and there's no Physics reason why transporters or stepping disks will exist in the 29th century or ever, or if they do exist that they'd be cheap enough to use for all commerce. Just sayin'. (You can read a 2007 version of my railroad story here.)
This of course percolated up because of a comment in the first review of my story in the May 2009 issue of Analog:
"The Brother on the Shelf" - Philip Edward Kaldon - a new writer with a very old-fashioned story. This wouldn't have been out of place in ASF in the 40s. But the "dates" got me - I kept on thinking how different lifestyles are today than they were 8 or 9 centuries ago. Why would things be so mid-20th Century-like 8 or 9 centuries from now?
The way I see it, my 29th century has a lot in common with the Technological Age of the late 20th and early 21st centuries -- much more in common than say the non-Technological 11th and 12th centuries. Plus our 20th century culture is going to survive, via recordings, for as long as the media can be recopied and read. Why must it be so different? Provided we're not going to put them in sweatshops, kids growing up in the future will still run around in the summer and still collect odd things, get a cold drink, etc.
A Different Argument
But today I spotted Gary Westfahl's piece Pitfalls of Prophecy: Why Science Fiction So Often Fails to Predict the Future on LocusOnline. Much like the complaints about Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Planet of the California Joggers", Gary points out the fallacies of single-mindedness which show up in a lot of SF. And how much of the future doesn't happen.
Indeed, a refusal to believe in extravagant and extraordinarily new developments in the future is remarkably logical. For, no matter how much we may desire, or fear, a radically altered future, we can observe throughout our history remarkable continuities in human activities and behavior. Consider, for a moment, everything that you did yesterday, and how your day would compare to a similar day 100 years ago. Some of your actions, of course, would be entirely unfamiliar to your ancestors: you used a computer to check your e-mail, you sent out a fax, you called a business associate on your cell phone, you watched some television, you played a video game. However, most of your activities today would be entirely familiar to a person from the distant past: you woke up from a bed that, aside from some space-age materials in it, was similar in design to the beds of one hundred years ago; you ate a breakfast, lunch, and dinner featuring foods similar to those eaten one hundred years, consumed while you sat at a table and employed utensils just like those employed by people one hundred years ago; you spent most of the day meeting, talking, and working with people, just like people one hundred years ago; and if it was Friday or Saturday, you spent your evening at a party, a movie, or a concert, socializing with your friends, just like people one hundred years ago.
To which I say... exactly.