Writing the future is hard.
We’re embedded in the present. We have all this amazing tech now, but most of it will be gone in fifty years, evolved into something new.
Who could have predicted some of these things fifty years ago?
Sci-fi writers, that’s who. It’s what we do, but it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Think about the world fifty years ago. There were no personal computers, no iphones, no facebook, no floppy disks, no emails, no post-it notes, no tik tok, and no space shuttles.
The web wasn’t created until the 90’s, and text messaging started in 1992.
There was no Tickle Me Elmo, Photoshop or Play Stations… in fact, no real video games at all (though a version of Pong was invented in the late 50’s).
My point? No sci-fi writer before 1970 imagined most of these things we know today, let alone envisioned the totality of them and how they have changed society.
Asimov didn’t predict Facebook. Clarke didn’t foresee the polarization social media would bring to society.
Look at the original Star Trek (1966-1969) – they missed the internet, LGBTQ rights, #metoo and the whole non-binary thing. But the series did get some things right – GPS, automatic doors, universal translators, and bluetooth headsets.
When I sit down in my writer cave to peer into the future, how can I possibly imagine the complexity of the future world (if it still exists) in 2070?
Luckily I’m not alone. There are thousands of other sci fi writers out there, past and present all peering into their own crystal balls for bits of truth and possibility.
Each book I read, each TV show I watch gives me little bits of the puzzle. I absorb them all and let them spin around inside my head, and then I weave them into future worlds, hoping I can invest them with enough future feels to build entire convincing words,
They won’t have iPads in 2070. They’ll be using implants or quantum computers tucked into the fourth dimension. Or maybe clubs and spears.
Cars will fly. Or we won’t need them. Or they will look like missiles and will zip us through vacuum tubes.
And Facebook and Twitter? Probably long gone.
The only thing we know for sure about the future is that almost nothing will be as it is now.
Like I said up top, this future stuff is hard!
So I soldier on, and hope for one great inspiration that will make people sit up and take notice and say Damn, that’s some cool shit.
Still, I keep trying.
To my writing friends, how do you come up with your cool sci-fi shit?