Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back to the Near-Future

One day I set out to write a science fiction book. I had several ideas running around in my head, and after a bit of chewing the fat and drinking the scotch, I settled on an idea for a near-future science fiction book. After a bit of brain molding, which, incidentally, consisted of more scotch, I set the novel only a few years away, with the possibility of a sequel stretching off into another decade.
The very first problem I ran into was world building. It is one thing to write come up with the strange and fantastic. It was quite different to write something close-to-home and familiar. It was both challenging and fun. And slow. Reeeeeaaaaaallllly slow.
Writing about the near-future required a lot of research. I used the interwebs. The library. I had to order my own books. My spreadsheet of writing expenses says I spent $253 in books for this project, half of that esoteric research material on Pacific Northwest Native Americans.
My research was not insular. I had to have my novel read by several experts. I needed someone to check my work on firearms. I had to have someone in law enforcement as a beta reader. I even had to seek out someone familiar with Washington State finances.
Once I was finished, I had a huge appreciation for writers placing their novels in a historical setting, those special authors who would spend days making sure they had a particular detail correct. I also had an appreciation for science fiction writers who can make a world come alive.
Mostly, however, I came to the conclusion that to write about the near future, you have to be crazy. If I would have known most of a month would go to researching the rich history of totem poles, and then hypothesize how their use could morph in the future due to cultural shifts, I might have said “pass.”
It’s an interesting sub-genre, I don’t know if it is for me or not. Anyone else here in Adventures in Writing land tackle the near future?


  1. I haven't Anthony, and I never even considered how much research it would entail.Perhaps I should drink more! Do you think the book has legs? It would be really interesting to see how your research informs the finished book - I bet it will be great - it ought to be after all the time and effort you've already invested in it.


  2. Thanks for the comment Julie. Good question.

    I feel the manuscript is hot. However, I have since learned it is difficult for the genre I picked to break out in a serial format. The book is part one of a trilogy and, while stands on its own, cannot be tossed out there as a singular entity. It's a three book deal or nothing.

    So I wrote another book to break out with.

    Now, I do know of a publisher that specializes in libertarian gun nut fiction. So in between other projects I'm going to float it direct. Wish me luck!

  3. I love to write the near future. However I don't typically have to do a lot of research into the region because I usually write about the san francisco bay area, and all I have to do is look out the window.

    I usually pick a topic that involves an up and coming piece of technology, and say "What if?"

    The story follows from there.


Join the conversation, add insight, or disagree with us! We welcome your thoughts.