Peruse your local library, book store, or Amazon Kindle’s online selections and you’ll find many sci-fi stories have similar futuristic elements. We writers tend to create futuristic predictions for human society based on current events in the real world. It’s not hard to see why. Search down any news feed and you’ll find scientists worrying our economy, technology and climate change everyday.
In his article, Escaping the Default Future When Writing Science Fiction, sci-fi author Karl Schroeder discusses an idea that falls outside of popular culture’s imagination. He writes there are three default futures we all tend to fall prey to: “an Orwellian dystopia, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or a space-faring urban hyper civilization.”
Science fiction stories often fall into these default thought patterns based on our real life predictions for our future, but are these the only futures we can imagine? Schroeder questions these norms and encourages writers to think outside the box and find a new future that isn’t so expected or bleak.
The expected apocalypse just hasn’t happened.
This is the question I am asking myself while writing my science fiction novel One Way Ticket. Set 60 years in the future, not much has changed on Earth except technology, communication, and industry of commerce. The expected apocalypse just hasn’t happened. It is not set in an alternate universe where humanity is any different than it is today.
Yes, people are ready to venture into space, beyond just astronauts and scientists. It has taken far longer to accomplish this feat than our real-life scientists think will occur in our real-life world. 60 years in the future, we won’t have conquered the universe living in multiple worlds, we’ll still have an Earth that we try but fail to take care of, and humanity will still live with a bit of disdain for each other.
Mars, in fact, is the first real settlement point in One Way Ticket, and April, the main character somehow wins a spot as part of the crew working to build a Mars colony for anyone who can afford a ticket. April is a farmers daughter in a world where family farms have died off in favor of mass production by technological conglomerates. Sort of what we are seeing now. Her farm, Awecross Acres, is one of the last remaining family farms when we first meet April and her world changes drastically.
Some say change is easiest to make when your life is in turmoil, when you are most open to accepting it. But April isn’t so sure. Learning her whole life might be a lie, she continues to question her fate and look for answers she may never find.
“A lot can change in sixty years, but a lot stays the same too.” ~ Hattie Awecross, One Way Ticket
In One Way Ticket, there is no grand dystopia or utopia forcing April to move on. Just her own world spinning out of the control. The Earth isn’t crumbling and Mars is a fantasy for most. All of the issues we face today are still prevalent but different in that future. The world has changed, but as Hattie Awecross, one character in my novel says, “A lot can change in sixty years, but a lot stays the same too.”
You won’t find fantasy or magic in this story which seems to be what the majority of publishers want. Yet it isn’t so simple that we don’t question humanity at its core and how to find yourself and where you fit into an ever-changing world full of people just trying to live day by day.
I’m at a crossroad as I near the ending of this book and evaluate all of the characters and plot details that have lead April to her final chapter (in this story anyway).
Schroeder discusses how he does this in his newest novella, The Million, which I am looking forward to reading. He leaves with hope and ending his piece by writing, “Of course, nobody owns the future. I hope you’ll go exploring, too.”
So, how can I escape the default future when writing my science fiction novel? I don’t know. I am still trying to figure that out. I do know, it can be anything it needs to be. Of course, that is up to my characters to decide.
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