Storm and stress my friends! The world is a volatile place. I’ve been reading an article in the latest National Geographic about Singapore and I can tell you that flying cars aside, the science fiction of my youth is here. Watching Steve Jobs totally flub trying to type on his new Star Trek TNG inspired gadget, or listening to the debate on setting up an industrial pollutant commodity market makes me realize that as science fiction writers we are not just authors and entertainers. We are also sibyls. I think that is why the near future stuff is so important and that accounts for its prevalence. Far off sci-fi can only interact with our time in terms of metaphor, while near future (or alternate present I suppose) sci-fi is making a statement on the right now. It is by force a critique of the moment the reader is living in and thus it is a critique of the reader. The first novel I wrote (lovingly tucked in a steel cabinet to my left) was set ten-thousand years from now, my second novel 1500 years into the future. My current chapter drafts of the complete rewrite of my second novel? They are taking place right now, I’ve been working on it for awhile. Writing in the far future frees you of being socially aware (a blessing for many of us). For me, if I had a plot hole, I could simply alter the mythology of the universe and fill it, but every time I did it, a small fracture occurs in the narrative space/time that I could only fix by getting all the extra dimensional Cmndr. Datas together and hitting them with a tachyon burst, thus sealing the cracks…. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, but there is a point. Far future writing lets the imagination off the hook when it comes to discipline and deus machina takes over. Far future takes real discipline, Frank Herbert discipline, Orson Scott Card discipline. Without it you are just suffering concept diarrhea and no larger themes or meanings can manifest. I’m not saying don’t write far future sci-fi. Write it, by all means we need more of it. Just remember, you must be careful, be disciplined, and beware. Near future may be more difficult to write, I mean you can have an intergalactic empire by 2014, but man what a ride! Hard sci-fi gets the short end of this stick. Softies tend to get to enjoy it more.
You know, Tokyo gets so used in science fiction that the industry should pay that city royalties.
So here it is. My list of sy-fy network pitches for movies, series, or mini-series:
1. Golgothic, the story of a scientist that goes back in time to meet Jesus only to discover that he takes back with him a virulent strain of flu that decimates the Roman World… with sexy results.
2. Birdsnake, trying to retroengineer dinosaurs creates a venomous birdsnake that, like, gets all in your face and stuff.
3. The Noise, a group of teenagers are plagued by ephemeral pleas for help that come from everywhere only to discover that they are pleas they themselves are making….wait for it… from the the future!
4. Warmoon Interstellic, The story of the last surviving fleet of humans as they flee from evil robots that they created. What will get them first? The enemy without… or the enemy within? Oh, yeah, there is like this twist at the end, and nudity and stuff.
5. Birdsnake II, because you can never get enough Birdsnake.
6. Arthropod!, innocent little pill bugs indeed.
7.Reruns of Dr. Who, okay this is technically not an idea either, but I can always handle more of The Doctor.
8. Earth Force 2018, about a group of teenager that are all that stands between us and complete annihilation by, I don’t know, aliens? Demons? Dinosaurs?
9. Journey to the center of Middle Earth, COME ON! You know that would rule!
10. Birdsnake III, something about a new breed of more sinister birdsnakes that require humanity to team up with the original birdsnake in order to survive.
That was the science of fiction…. the story of a young man with nothing to loose and everything to prove as he tries to publish stories but gets rejected by… what? Editors? Aliens? Demons?
Next up: I put it all on the line with another list, because they are easy. And I want to talk a little bit about your rights.
Andrew C. Porter