One thing for certain is that things will not be quite the same once this pandemic is over. What the full extent of those changes will be is difficult to forecast. But there are some things that we can easily see now.
One such is that the acceleration in climate change will slow down because we are already seeing less air pollution from vehicles. Reports are already coming in of noticeable drops in nitrogen dioxide and particulates in city centres, and there are satellite maps showing global decreases. The full extent of that drop in pollution remains to be seen.
Home working for those that can will become more prevalent after the pandemic is over. It had been allowed by some companies beforehand, but nowhere near the levels we are seeing now. And more companies will see the advantages of this mode of working and therefore continue it. This will mean less vehicles on the roads than we have seen before the pandemic etc.
With so many people being under lock down and away from their work, they will have more time for their hobbies. I’ve been keeping an eye on my favourite handicraft website for a particular cross-stitch kit and watching the number of available cross-stitch kits fall and be replenished more rapidly than I have seen for the previous months. I’ve heard a report from one of my neighbours (at a safe distance I may say) about there being a surge for glass for making stained glass items. There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of novel submissions to agents and publishers. There will definitely be a flourish of creative activity.
However, in the case of novels I cannot see the publishers taking on more novels than they have done to date, because by the time they get these submitted novels published the pandemic will all but be over and people will be concentrating on getting back on their feet in various different ways. It won’t be as bad as the post World War II rebuilding that went on for many years, but it will have an impact.
One thing that has been noticeable is the way current industries are being diverted to making other things, in this case ventilators and protective kit of the doctors, nurses and carers. The turn round has been far more rapid than we’ve seen in the past. I think this is an acceleration of the trend to multi-purpose goods manufacturing from a more versatile set of production machines. This will lead to a reduction in the boom and bust of the manufacturing centres, which will have an impact on the way world economics is run. As to how much of an impact, your guess is as good as mine.
However, the major impact I’m seeing is the more obvious community spirit – people looking out for each other in the face of the that of illness. This is an attitudinal change that will last down the decades. We will become a closer knit society as a result of this.
There will be other changes as yet not apparent. But we’ve already seen enough more than enough to say things will not be the same again.
Has any of this been predicted by science fiction?
Well – it is too much in the detail and subtleties for science fiction publishers to take much of an interest.
These societal changes we are seeing now will change the extrapolated arc of the future, slowly at first, but accelerating later on. It means that a whole new panorama of the future should be developed by what I call the futuristic science fiction writers.
And many of them will. But it will take time for this different extrapolated future to filter through the various dampeners the publishers (both production and conservative story-arc-wise) will put on these brave SF writers. They will not give up that easily, thank goodness.
What it does mean is that the publishers who break ranks to bring the new extrapolated futures into print, will have an edge on the others, because this is what a significant number of readers will have an interest in.