Writing the Future

Science fiction is the art of taking what is known and extrapolating it into the future (or past, or space, or other dimensions. Whatever.)

And then seeing how humans adapt to it.

Space Travel, Computers, Mobile Phones, Satellites. Fiction turned into reality, or close enough. I just reluctantly gave up on my flip phone/Star Trek Communicator. It was obsolete. Old fashioned. It got laughed at.

Our computers aren’t up to SkyNet or even Colossus, but they are definitely impacting our lives. By and large positively.

The fiction based on the exaggerated potential to nuke ourselves back into the Dark Ages came quickly upon the heels of the first nuclear weapons. I don’t recall if the original Planet of the Apes involved genetic engineering, or not.

Rigged elections and loads of disenfranchised voters?

Heck, even I’ve written that one! I do not, however, expect it to be followed by a cross-dimensional invasion of Cyborgs. (That is not a challenge, 2021!)

It does bother me a little bit, the losing faction’s top levels sneaking out of the capital after veiled threats against their families, the top staff getting fired, other staff being warned from associating with them . . .

I really thought I was over the top. But brain chips might explain . . . No, no, that’s very definitely going too far for Real Life!

Now, some futures are fun. Well, the fictional worlds sounds fun. I don’t want John Ringo’s Posleen to invade, nor a future run by Sarah Hoyt’s Good Men. Although the shape changers are cool, especially if I was one.
And I’ve been infected with a silly thing that now has a retired Super Villain floating around in Space fighting Robot Squids while diverting the huge asteroid the squids rode in on. I think that future would be all right, although there are several references to wars between now and the story time. So, who ever’s steering the time line, please avoid that one.

Weber’s Honorverse seems like a really nice future to aim for.

Anything involving the Return of Magic, I can be pretty sure isn’t going to happen.


And I think we’re safe from the Zombie Apocalypse. Captain Tripps or other Super Deadly Plague? Eh, after last year, I’ve got to say the reaction’s as likely to kill us as the disease, and anything new and deadlier is in danger of not being taken seriously enough.

Sort of like, well, if most Terminators are as cute as Arnie, they can’t be all bad, right?

So . . . what fictional futures do you fear, and which do you like?

And here’s the one I wrote:

15 thoughts on “Writing the Future

  1. There are many “futures” to fear, including the whole “dystopian” sub-genre. But the one that comes to mind at the moment is Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center series, beginning with In the Ocean of Night.

    “Futures” to like are harder to come by, which says something about SF writers’ inclination to dabble in terrors, warfare, and threats. Among recent stories, the closest I can come is my own Spooner Federation series — and even that has its darker aspects. But if we go back a few decades, perhaps the future Hugo Gernsback wrote about in “Ralph 124C 41+” would suit most of us!

  2. “Weber’s Honorverse seems like a really nice future to aim for.”

    Although I seem to recall several wars on Earth along the way.

  3. In the book version of The Planet of the Apes, the story takes place on an entirely different planet. None of this “It’s Earth!” bit. That said, it still ends with the protagonist returning to earth hundreds of years later (due to slower-than-light travel and the effects of relativity). The figure 800 sticks in my mind even though it’s been 50 years since I read the book. Anyway, when the man lands at an airfield, a military vehicle comes out to meet him and an ape in an officer’s uniform gets out. The End. So, no explanation for what happened to Earth.

    In the original movie series, humans adopted apes as pets after some kind of plague wiped out cats and dogs. Eventually, an ape learns how to speak and things snowball from there. If memory serves me, this was described in “Escape From the Planet of the Apes” (the third movie). Then the movie’s ending essentially invalidates the pet plague future because the married apes who die at the end, Cornelius and Zira, leave behind a hidden child. I think the movie ends with the baby ape saying, “Mama.” Again, it’s been decades since I saw the movie, so that might be wrong.

    Yes, growing up in the ’60s and coming of age in the ’70s, I went to every science fiction movie that came to my small town.

  4. Western Civ falls. (Again).
    Followed by a Dark Age where much knowledge is lost, and political/social structures revert towards mean. (Again, but likely only to feudalism this time. Mostly.) Breakdown of transportation leads to famine, war, pestilence, etc. but stabilizes over time.
    Except an Ice Age begins. (Again). Arable land greatly diminished, forced migrations, more knowledge lost, more reversion towards mean. (Maybe some city-states, but mostly tribal, nomadic, and warlike.)
    And people live in the shadows of things that must have been built by gods.
    For centuries.
    Eventually, the ice recedes. And the carefully tended fragment-seeds begin to sprout in the dawning of new civilizations.
    They develop as they do.
    For a while.
    But they’re stunted.
    The easily-accessible hydrocarbon energy sources they would need to power a new industrial age start out largely depleted, and there just isn’t the infrastructure or tech to find or develop less accessible sources.
    They’re happy enough, mostly. They don’t know any better.
    Variations of the cycle play out many times over the succeeding millennia.
    We never get off this rock.
    And eventually, we die.

    (That was long and depressing. I’ll compensate!)

    God visits Washington D.C. on January 21, 2021, and fails to find ten righteous men.

  5. Shute’s On the Beach, Kratman’s Caliphate, SG1, and the Eddas are good timelines.

    1984 and the CoDominion are bad timelines.

    The faith of the adversary is so evil that the death of all is a preferred outcome to coexistence, much less loss.

    Weber’s narrative claim in that Bolo story that Case Ragnarok was insane was evidence of him being a squish. 🙂

    1. I think “Eddas” refers to Norse Mythology. The part where “The gods and their enemies die with a few mortals remaining to start over”.

      1. Oh, the actually mythology Ragnarök. I thought he was references some book or series I hadn’t heard of.

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