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30 September 2008

i agree with this statement. [More:] Oh, so true. i've had to put away or put on hold two novels (10yrs+) just to wait and see if some drug will pan out or some advance follows through, which makes losing old drafts (crashy crashy) easier, and the question of moving on ever more looming.

So, give up on fact based scifi?

Blowing over that question:
Hi. How've you been?
i've missed lots of birth days and those big milestone holidays, ups and downs-- sorry.

Tell me something interesting.
Or even better, ask a question and whoever answers it correctly gets to ask a question.
Don't worry Darlin', now baby don't you fret
We're livin' in the future and none of this has happened yet
posted by jonmc 30 September | 19:44
You never know.

It could happen.
posted by Doohickie 30 September | 19:51
Yeah, skip the main question. Yer not getting it. The problem is that things i've already written have happened or are close to happening, making key characters and events problematic at best.
i got a comic drawn 20 years ago about "The Web" called Webs. It happens all the time.
posted by ethylene 30 September | 20:06
I have an idea for a near-future sci-fi novel that I've been mulling around for several years, that grew out a terribly punny title (that I have registered as a domain name I'm not telling anybody about). It's about corporate media, creative rights, personal identity, the "uncanny valley", privacy, underground sexual politics, commercial spaceflight, pure vs. applied scientific research, efforts to make human beings dispensable and the worst possible circumstances to make "First Contact" with an alien civilization. I have a basic story structure, a handful of "ha-has" (just enough to mean I have to make enough more "ha-has" to make it Humorous Near-Future Sci-Fi with an obviously satirical bent) and a couple of very well-defined main characters who are both a lot NOT like me in different ways and who I am having a lot of trouble writing dialogue for.

The most interesting things I've noticed while not pushing this concept forward is how some of the elements have gotten 20 years closer in the last 10 years while others remain just as distant. Not enough discrepancy to make having them happen at the same time impossible, but if I don't write it pretty soon, it might.
posted by wendell 30 September | 20:42
Ok. Well, today Pips called me as I was leaving work and told me to buy vegetable oil and toilet paper. I did and to reward myself for being a good husband, I bought myself some beer. The checkout guy looked at my purchases and i said "yes. I'm going to get drunk, covermyelf in oil, then use the toilet paper to wipe it off." "OK."
posted by jonmc 30 September | 20:47
I'm looking at jonmarycay's comment, thinking about some of the combinations of things from recent shopping trips and shuddering at what the checkout clerks must think. I may never be able to show my face at Costco again.
posted by wendell 30 September | 20:51
Fact-based scifi: even near-misses will create alternate-worlds. Just get carried away. Put something up somewhere to read. as if i knew anything about writing, or reading for that matter.
posted by DarkForest 30 September | 21:15
covermyelf in oil,

cover myself in oil. I don't go around lubricating the little people.
posted by jonmc 30 September | 21:17
I've always thought the hallmark of good sci-fi is internal consistency. I mean, it's supposed to be part "-fi".
posted by Eideteker 30 September | 21:47
I disagree on most of this. I read The Shock of the Old recently, which makes a very good case that the pace of technological change is not accelerating, and points out that new technologies are only adopted very slowly and gradually.

Also, Charles Stross doesn't post on Metachat, so hopefully I'm safe to say I think his near-future SF is pretty awful. I gave up on "Accelerando" halfway through, and I wish I'd given up on "Halting State". (I've liked some of his other books).

I think one reason is that he keeps trying to predict the future, when SF isn't really about that. SF is about a future, not the future: taking an interesting premise and seeing how it plays out. "1984" and "Brave New World" got most of the details wrong, but they're barely dated at all, because they're not saying "this will happen" but "this could happen".

Whereas Charles Stross seemingly just tries to extrapolate present trends and upcoming gadgets, whether they're interesting or not.
posted by TheophileEscargot 01 October | 00:08
i've never read him, i was just talking about the quoted statement.
Science fiction is about possibilities and social commentaries and so many different things, but, say, if a big chunk of some element of setting or some such is predicated on a significant discovery or theoretical leap or forthcoming calamity, etc. then one has to deviate into "an alternate reality" branch off, completely other world, or other means to make logic of where the story is taking place.

i read a lot of sci fi and fantasy as a child and tween. Books were cheap, everywhere and as easily consumed as air filled nacho cheeze powdered corn things. Plus, great covers on some and we had this backlog of scifi/seventies social commentary.
If it wasn't for this slightly removed socio-anthropological forum of a genre, Star Trek would never be as accidentally hysterical and touching and ubiquitous as it is.
i've read a thing here or there but i haven't really been into sci fi since, and most of what i have read is more what would be called magical/blah fiction.
The whole reason i wanted to try sci fi again was because, besides the memories of young love, it seemed to me that it had long stopped being about "the future." i'd ask the geekiest of friends to name me a futuristic thing, and they would refer to a Gibson book from 1984.
So i wanted to write about a possible future place, not to aspire to, but at least was not an obvious echo of what already has been written or what is going on now.
The problem was that two premises of a significantly-different-from-now future were predicated on two big changes, one which became close to happening years ago and has been on the verge ever since.

In consideration of actual scientists and science and writers who respected them in their work, i wanted to work with something that had a factual base, that wouldn't take the science part for granted. i'm all for doing the research and getting the help of specialized professionals. Who knows, maybe seed a possible spur to some young science mind.
They were never very science heavy but enough to deflect the usual derisive sound making geek reaction of someone who was instinctively looking for obvious flaws, grammatical, factual and otherwise (you so know what i mean.)

So i wonder. i'm tired of waiting for each new discovery and its expected refutation.
What will happen is that they will sit, and they will wait, and when i'm dead, maybe someone will find some of my old work and wonder if that's the real date, but probably not. Most likely it will all be in a landfill and not even be recycled.

i just need to write more seriously again and i'm not sure if i should bother with the old or move on to the new.
Every once in a while, more often than not as life goes along, i'd like something to nudge me in the right direction, spark enough to see something, inspire me with the odd phrase or non sequitur.

What will happen is i will write
posted by ethylene 01 October | 01:29
I disagree with Stross too. The book 1984 didn't stop being relevant in the year 1984.

This strikes me (at first glance) as wish fulfillment. "The future's moving too quickly for me. Bad news of this is that I won't be able to write any near future Sci-Fi. Good news is that the Singularity is here. Buy a 3D Printer, run naked in the street. We can all be libertarians."
posted by seanyboy 01 October | 01:34
Also, i think steampunk is an obvious reaction to the fear of the unknown and unwritten hint of a future and the great thrilling potential held in that time before. Plus, cool looking, always has been, to those of us who always dug the tailoring and gears.
It's easier to plumb the past than dream the future, and it's easier to follow a line than draw something entirely different.
Easiest of all is flesh it all out in your head and never let it get born out, where the screaming can happen.

i haz had too sweet flavored rum in richat's honor.
posted by ethylene 01 October | 01:41
I say generate your near-future idea and then go with it and don't worry if the world progresses toward or away from it. I know I often get a feeling of dread when I think of returning to old projects. I'd rather work on something new than having my spirits deadened by forcing myself to work something that doesn't inspire me anymore. ymmv, of course.
posted by DarkForest 01 October | 09:12
Ya know, it's not the kind of thing i post or ask, but this has oddly helped, somehow.
i like learning new things, even, maybe especially, when reading fiction and things that read as fact based when it works, but i'm not going to worry about any of this any more.
Whatever happens, happens, but there will be happenings.
posted by ethylene 01 October | 21:47
If you could pose one question to Barack Obama... || "One of my best friends for 30 years is gay..." Sarah Palin on social issues