I may be overdosing on this particular susgenre, since I read Blue Remembered Earth recently, and The Quiet War not long before that. They essentially tell the same story, but whats disturbing is that they essentially come to the same conclusion. All of this seems to come down to the Richard Florida version of the future. The 24th century for hipsters.
They're liberal-geek amusement parks. A guided tour of one half of the western culture war. The roller coaster of exciting new urbanism. The merry go round of climate change. Ferris wheel of non heteronormativity. That cute little train that goes around the park* of multiculturalism.
It's all very adorable and convenient, if you like that sort of thing, and I do like that sort of thing. I am so the target audience of these books it's not even funny. I read them, I enjoy them, i'll read more of them. I can read fanciful descriptions of space habitats, anarchist economic systems and new-fangled family arrangements until the cows come home. And I like amusement parks too. But after a while, i'd like to see the rest of whats out there too.
Basically, this now entirely failing to be in any way interesting or awe inspiring or thought provoking. It's just a kind of geek trivia porn. I read this stuff the way I read history articles on Cracked.com. I don't find it at all convincing, which, fair enough - SF is about the present, not about the future, ok. But it doesn't work for the present either. Its too neat and colorful in a tourist brochure sort of way. These futures don't feel in the slightest foreign or disorienting or futuristic. Lots of sex without gender. Lots of colonization without colonialism. Superficial multiracialism while actual religeon, culture and ideology become cheerfully contained esoterica, human variety for the sake of decoration. This isn't the future, its just the internet. Would someone please write something challenging?
*But only if it's got rails. If it's actually a tractor pulling wagons on car wheels, it can go fuck itself.