Neal Stephenson -- who once wrote a book about a virtual-reality bushido master/pizza delivery man named Hiro Protagonist, but has since devoted his entire writing career to meta-history at the expense of all the world's forests -- has publicly bemoaned the rather dismal nature of modern science fiction. And he's absolutely right: Sci-fi used to be about how awesome and wonderful the future could be; it used to be about big, stupid, bright, shiny ideas that could never happen -- until they did.
The idea is that kids grew up reading about amazing stuff in science fiction, and then devoted their lives to science so they could one day make fiction a reality. That theory holds that we only have cellphones today because some kid watched Star Trek and couldn't bear to live in a world without Communicators anymore. Since his only options were "suicide" or "science," and he never learned to tie a proper noose, he went to college -- and that's why you can shoot birds at farm animals at red lights today.
And it only costs the safety and lives of your fellow drivers!
But even if that's true, I don't think the theory means that the sci-fi of yesteryear was all Fluffiness Augmenters and Snuggle Rays: When people talk about classic science fiction, they often refer to Orwell, Bradbury, Dick and Huxley -- all of whom wrote brutal, merciless dystopian fiction. And there's a reason for that: The negative stuff tends to stick with you, because as sad as it is, a slap in the face is more memorable than a good hug. But even if you're writing a miserably dystopian piece of fiction -- even if you're writing a post-apocalyptic piece about a clone army of Mao Zedongs piloting a squadron of Rape-Bots into an orphanage -- there's a way to do it that doesn't place the blame on technology.