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Writing the Future

iPad Air

One of the most difficult things for me as a sci fi author is figuring out what I think the future will look like. Not just socially – that’s often the fun part, coming up with new social constructs to hang my story on.

But also physically. What will the cities look like? What will gadgets look like? How will they work? How ill we eat? Communicate? Have sex?

These can be fun things to figure out too, but they can also be writing minefields.

Take, for example, computers.

50 years ago, they existed only as huge, room-sized things that were far less powerful than your average iPhone today. Anyone who watches Mad Men will be amused by the whole hullabaloo that surrounded the introduction of the ad agency’s first computer. They bought it because it was the in thing, had no idea what to do about it, and some employees even freaked out about the whole thing.

We are so embedded in our own current culture, it can be difficult to see ahead.

In a series of novellas I’m working on, I initially had the traditional Star Trek bridge on my space ship – you know, the console the person sits at to control the ship. Then I switched it up to tablets – portable, sensible, right?

But here’s the thing. Fifty years ago, a tablet like the iPad was not even a dim possibility. So what’s the likelyhood that we will still be using iPads in 2064? Let alone 2100?

The trick of being a science fiction writer is to both extrapolate the current trends and to then present them in a way that feels sensible, inevitable to the current generation who will read your work.

So what will that look like for this particular story?

I’m still working on it. But my current theory is that it has to do with a temple implant and magnetic discs that can be used to transfer information. I’ll get back to y’all when I figure that one out.

How do you handle future tech?


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