Communion Of Dreams


The flow of events.
February 25, 2007, 8:05 am
Filed under: Predictions, tech, Writing stuff

As I mention on the homepage for Communion, one of the dangers in writing near-term speculative fiction is being outpaced by the real flow of events in the world, whether that is political, social, technological, or scientific.  Which is why early on I try and convey that the novel is set in an alternative time-line, thereby giving myself some leeway to be at odds with what actually happens.

But still, you run the real risk of being dated.  In the prequel to Communion, titled St. Cybi’s Well (still very much just starting to work on this book), I’m writing about 2012 – only 5 years from now.  One of the key items I had initially conceived of for that book was what I called a ‘UniPod’ – a small, Blackberry-sized device which had nothing but a screen on one side, and which would serve as a phone, satellite radio, music system, palm-top computer – you get the idea.  Sound familiar?  It should – it’s what the Apple iPhone looks like and basically how it functions (I’m sure the additional capabilities will be built in soon enough).  And it already exists, four years ahead of schedule.

Likewise, the pace of world events isn’t what I establish as the basis for my ‘future history’.  In it, there has already been a nuclear attack against Israel, and they have unveiled (and put into operation) a plan to establish a substantial colony on the Moon using conventional heavy-lift rockets.  Unlikely?  Maybe.  Outlandish?  No – I don’t think so.

But these kinds of things get in the way of people getting into the novel, I think.  For any work of fiction, you need a willing suspension of disbelief, and a lot of people have a hard time divorcing current events from what I speculate upon.  Yet if you were to go back to 2000, and say that you predict where we are today – bogged down in a nightmare in Iraq, significant curtailment of our civil liberties here at home, seeing the resurgence of Russia as a major power, et cetera – I think a lot of people would have a hard time swallowing it.  But having lived through it, being there for each twist and turn, it all makes emotional sense to us now.  Solid enough emotional sense that some people have a hard time imagining anything different.

Jim Downey


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