So what did your character do at the end of the world as we know it, Daddy?
Predictive text can get you into a mess.
Just think of what spectacular chaos we could achieve with predictive fiction (Yes, I know. First they predicted Alien Invasion (War of the Worlds), atomic holocaust (On the Beach) then the start of the new Ice Age (Ice) and then the nasty spread of viruses – Tom Clancy, or resurrecting dinosaurs, and vast volumes of grey nano-goo, and then the IPCC decided fiction was too good for the common people… Seriously, with a nasty disease crawling out of Africa (yes, I know it’s not that infectious… not compared to ‘flu anyway. It does however seem to be mutating in typical direction for successful spread. The optimum for a disease… is NOT to kill the host, or not too quickly, and to spread as easily as possible (which is more difficult with a dead host not doing the legwork.)) and Bárðarbunga slowly going through the process of caldera collapse – which could lead to nothing… or could lead to a large amount of ice suddenly meeting fire. If you write catastrophic sf, you know what could happen then (and yes, the possible scale of that event varies a great deal.
Of course most sf writers are really as good at predicting the future as I am at texting (I did send one once, or at least I thought I had, with no spaces between the three words I had laboriously squinted over for ten minutes (short words too). I later found I was mistaken, however and had failed to send it. I’m gifted like that. ) Considering the society of future that dahlings seem to think optimum, I am glad about that.
But it doesn’t matter. And I say this with deep delight, and especially for the new writers who approach me from time-to-time, each with a new and awful way to end the world, most of which are riffs off whatever is fashionable in apocalypses right now. They’re always very disappointed in my response. I do apologize. I do appreciate it isn’t easy to come up with a new smackeroo of a way to end the world as we know it. But… I write for a living.
And of course any story isn’t about TEOWAKI. Nor is about people caught like leaves in the wind in it. Those are news reports.
Great Science Fiction how the people cope with it. Indeed sf and ordinary fiction too (literary fiction is another matter entirely. It’s purpose is to make us feel less inadequate about our piteous efforts. Strangely enough, writers of this think that’s our purpose) don’t need earth-shattering disasters to be great books (they do usually need a conflict or problem to be solved – but that can be quite mundane. Of course mundane is relative (some of mine are not): to Cthulhu cosmic evil is pretty mundane). But it’s about the people, and how they deal with their own troubles, and those of others. And that, my friends, is much harder to deal with well and to suspend disbelief than a new way to end life on Earth as we know it. When you’ve got great ideas on that, that is exciting!
It’s curious – to me anyway, how different authors deal with this (via their characters). That seems a lot less flexible than settings, or gender or TEOWAKI… I know mine tend to attack the problem with a fair amount of ingenuity (courage, determination, yes. Strength, usually no. Skill… unless you mean of mouth or or brain, not much. Luck or chance only peripherally. Giving up and dying stoically – or angstily, never.)
So what is about how the characters deal with crisis that appeals to you?