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Last Week’s WW:  Making A Word Baby

It’s no easy task to see the future.  But writers have been doing it for a long time.

In 1863, Jules Verne wrote the novel Paris in the Twentieth Century.  He wrote about a future that was 100 years away.  This book got lost in a vault.  It wasn’t until 1994 that it was published.  Many of his predictions were right on target.

Star Trek also had great insight into the future.  Flat screen TVs, tablets, flip phones, heck, cell phones in general, touch screen computers, and those are just some of the technologies that we’ve already obtained.

HG Wells predicted that we would go to the moon long before there was flight.

How did they do this? When I started reading futuristic  scifi, I became intrigued by the futuristic world.  I wanted to be a futurist, but didn’t know where to begin.  I became a little discouraged when I discovered that many of the books that I was currently reading were by authors that were high-ups in the tech industry before turning to literature.  Many of them held patients, even.

They were masters of their fields, with years of study and inside knowledge.  What hope was there for me?

According to a book that I’ve mentioned before: Physics of the Future, Jules Verne wasn’t a scientist.  But one thing that he did do was associate with scientist.  He would ask them what was cutting edge, and use that information to craft his stories.

We can do this, too.  We can talk to scientist.  We can learn these things for ourselves, as well.  That book is amazing for predicting the world of tomorrow.  The internet is full of cutting edge technology information.

Of course, at this point, all we have is science.  As a writer, you have to take it one or two steps further.

It’s not enough to just know what technology is cutting edge now.  You have to visualize where it will go next.  Maybe even the stop after that, and what impact will it have on life?

My guy and I were talking the other day, and somehow the subject ended up with a future of strict population control, where the government far exceeds its reach and possibly kills everyone after the age of 40.  I argued it all started with education.  How did one thing get to the other?

Well, first let me start by saying that I think education is very important.  I was saying that we should have parenting, finance, and nutrition classes as part of the core curriculum in schools.   He argued it’s difficult enough to keep evolution in schools due to ideology, so how is parenting going to get there, since everyone has different ideas.  I said, well, if it’s good for society as a whole, then maybe they should just do it.  This went on and on, until parenting classes turned into mandatory sterilization and passing criteria to reproduce, to mass murder…  Maybe you had to be there.  The point is, one simple idea transferred logically (in the conversation) to something extreme in the future.  But we could see how it go take the first step, then the second, then before you knew it, it had run away into this whole other thing.

That is how we see the future as writers.  We don’t just see today.  We connect the dots.  We see evolution of everything from animals to society to technology, and everything else.  We can take the idea of a 3d printer and stem cell research and imagine how those could combine to be the replicators of Star Trek someday.  We can see how current limb replacement for amputees with sensory feedback could result in people living in a manor like the movie Surrogates.

Take a look around the internet.  What will come next after OLEDs are so thin and cheap that they replace paper and televisions alike?  Will nanites led to deep social networking or a hive mind?  Will we live in a world of robot slaves or be robot slaves?

The future isn’t written just yet.  But you can help write it.