Why Speculative Fiction authors are always in a hurry....

A large part of what I am about to write below is a warning to my Speculative or Science Fiction writing brethren. It's not an attempt to cast blame, and certainly not an attempt to whine. It is merely an attempt to encourage writers to not procrastinate if their stories are contingent upon near-future technologies.


Unless this is your first visit to this site, (or you've not been paying attention, lol), you will undoubtedly know that I am currently at work on a rather large SciFi/Speculative Fiction series titled "d.o.mai.n", the first book of which is due to come out next year.


I have envisioned alot of new technology to be included in these books, spent alot of time trying to decide where technological trends will go in the 20 years seperating today to the setting of the novels. I will probably be wrong on much of it, overshooting on some advancements and not being ambitious enough on others.


Such is the nature of Spec. Fiction.


When you base alot of your ideas on fields or products that are just now at their infancy, you are in essence engaging in a footrace with the scientists tasked with bringing those ideas to market. If you procrastinate as I have, sometimes the scientists catch up to your vision.


In the chronology of my writing of d.o.mai.n, the second book was initially started a decade ago. It began as a screenplay, as with the advent of Blender and other special effects software, I fancied myself a filmmaker. One of the effects I had envisioned (though I doubt I was the first to come up with the idea) was of a car where every exterior and hard interior body panel was constructed of LCD, essentially making the car one giant television.


This was one of the first scenes I wrote, and I am pasting a short excerpt below in the hopes that you all forget you saw it in time for the publishing of the second book in the series, lol.


(Note: I did revise this passage pretty heavily. I did learn something while revising it though-If you want to see how far you have come in a specific discipline, all you have to do is take a look at the quality of work you produced ten years ago)


d.o.mai.n
Book 2


Excerpt-
The elevator door closed between them. With a deep sigh, Theo began to wonder if they would be able to manage their professional relationship alongside this fledgling personal one.

He let the thought go, deciding that they would figure it out as they went along.

For the past four years, he had secretly fantasized about his desire to grow closer to Victoria, but now that it was happening he began to doubt himself.

Would she still find him interesting in the morning? Would he be able to continue to cultivate the magic of this night into something more permanent?

He didn't have the answers to these questions, nor for the multitude of other seeds of doubt fighting for sunlight amongst the recesses of his mind.

He became increasingly cognizant that he had been standing at the elevator door for an excessive amount of time, and pivoted on his heel to leave.

He hadn't felt this light and free in ages. The hairs on his  arm bristled with the energy of untapped possibility, and he couldn't help but smile as he reached his car, lifting the door to slide inside.

After flexing his hands around the thermoplastic controls to work off some of the nervous tension, he pressed the ignition button on the console and the dash sprang to life in various phosphorescent hues.

The same instant that he eased the front tires outside of the parking space, a dark blur whistled past, only missing his bumper by inches. He wrenched his fingers around the controls in anger before yanking the right hand control back to slide the back end of the vehicle around.

The rear tires found purchase and he was in pursuit.

Within a matter of 600 feet he had caught up to the Black Mustang and removed any doubt about his mood by closing the distance between them to within 6 inches.

 The Infotainment screen flashed with an incoming call, and Theo barked out his command.

"Answer!"

 The screen blinked into life and a Kellen Malachai's face filled the screen.

 "You have to have her too?" 

Theo hadn't recognized the vehicle as it had nearly reshaped the front half of his vehicle, but instantly recognized the voice. Knowing Kellen's penchance for jealousy and suspicion of mental instability, he backed off slightly, loosening the gap between them by 30 feet.

Kellen began to scream at him through the speakers. 

"Don't you back down now, Golden boy! Don't you DARE try to run and hide! You think that I'm scared of you?"
"Kellen, I'm not racing you. You're obviously in a pissy mood. Why don't we both just go home before someone get's hurt, and we can talk about this tomorrow after we've both had a chance to cool off?"

 "I've always loved her, but you wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

 "Kellen.."

 "You can't love anyone but yourself."

 Theo hesitated. He had heard this line from Kellen before. Over Theo's first few years at ScourceTech, he had sensed a growing animosity from Kellen. He had been far too busy at the time to give it much thought, but now could see that it hadn't faded the way he had thought.

During this exchange, he had been slowly decelerating, using the conversation to distract Kellen from his retreat. Kellen had been slowing as well, negating his efforts. Theo wasn't sure if he had intended this, or if it was merely a by product of his distraction. 

Theo had his answer when the back panels of Kellen's Mustang erupted in bright red light, signifying a full emergency stop. Theo had to lock up his own brakes to avoid reshaping the rear fascia of Kellen's Mustang.
"Cut the shit, Kellen. Is this really worth getting both of us killed?"

 Through the display, he could see that Something had changed in Kellen's eyes. Theo couldn't place it, but the manic glint didn't ease Theo's mind in the least.

“I'm thinking that we should ask Victoria about this, just to settle it once and for all? How does that sound?”

Theo had never heard Kellen speak like this. He had always been cold, calculating, but the man speaking to him from the vehicle 20 feet away had the speech patterns of a child, as though his mind had returned to a more petulant, less stable version.

Kellen snapped the rear end of his Mustang to the left, barely allowing it to make the next right had corner. Theo had plenty of time to react, but at the speeds they were traveling he was amazed that Kellen hadn't ended up in the adjacent ditch.

Theo deftly maneuvered the Fiero around the corner, the whine from the gearbox behind his back rising in pitch exponentially as he accelerated out of the turn. 

He knew where Kellen was going, and if he didn't make it there first, there was no telling what might happen. Theo thrust the controls further ahead, urging the Pontiac into a drift as he negotiated the next corner.

Through the dark tint of the Mustang's windows, he could only make out an outline of Kellen's torso as he sailed past him and quickly put a car length between them.

Once Kellen had corrected his trajectory, he continued his constant barrage of insults for Theo as their cars danced along the desolate stretch of asphalt, a track that would eventually bring them around the mountain and back to Victoria.

His mind racing, trying to think of a way to bring this situation under control, Theo gave up on negotiating and tried escalate the situation in an attempt to get Kellen to back down.

"I'm not going to let you hurt her."

Theo disregarded Kellen's incoherent response. 

"You couldn't just step step aside and let me have Victoria, could you?"

Theo again broke his silence. "Step aside? You seem to be harboring some illusions. She thinks your a freak, and after tonight, I can't say that I disagree with her." 

Kellen growled and nudged the back corner of Theo's car, lifting the rear suspension and causing the tires to break loose.

Theo redirected torque to the front with a flick of the wrist and controlled the slide.

"This needs to stop, someone's going to get hurt." His tone suggesting that it would not be him.

Even through the holographic projection, the malicious glint in Kellen's eyes told Theo all he needed to know.

"Okay, you want to talk, we'll talk. Just stop this."

Kellen peered closer to the camera. The image on Theo's Heads up display distorted, enlarging his eyes to inhuman proportions.

"I'm done talking." and he nudged Theo again.

Theo had never seen Kellen like this before. He had always suspected this kind of instability, but the level of animosity currently directed at him was incongruous to any of their dealings. He made the decision at that moment to stop trying to reason with someone that was beyond help.
He needed to find a way to keep Kellen from Victoria, but was more intent on disabling his car than the man himself.
He panned his HUD display to pick up the front clip of the Mustang. The animated flame wrap was flickering wildly, the underlying electrical grid responsible for it's function making momentary connections before vibration or wind separated them. 

Theo leaned into the controls, pushing the drivetrain to it's limit. The rear tires scrabbled for grip as the directional management computer divided power amongst the wheels. The speedometer climbed past 140, then past 150. Theo knew the limits of his machine well, and knew this particular stretch of road almost as well.

Kellen faded, but not nearly enough.

Theo grazed a hidden contact switch with his thumb, and a rotary menu spun into view. Another slide of his thumb selected the onboard reserve capacitor, which had been originally intended as a backup to the main battery. He had replaced it with a rapid discharge unit to allow for momentary boosts of speed. He just hoped it would give him the distance he needed to pull off his plan.

The modification wasn't strictly legal, and he had promised the technician friend that had installed it that he would never use it unless on a track due to the unpredictability that accompanied forcing double the power through the performance stator.

He saw no other choice at the moment to put the needed real estate between the two speeding cars. The cold steel of a gunslinger washed over him as he prepared himself for a very wild ride. 

He was secretly impressed that Kellen hadn't found a ditch by now. He made a note to remember not to underestimate him in the future. Of course, the lesson in humility that was about to take place might help alleviate those concerns, but Theo prided himself on planning for every contingency. 

A press of the contact switch and Theo pulled away from the Mustang in a flash. Theo had to force his body back against the restraints, fighting momentum to keep the accelerator to the stops.

Theo waited for the GPS alarm to sound, warning him of the unsafe approach speed of the oncoming corner before he jerked the right control back and as he thrust his left hand forward, initiating a spin.

The resulting blue, oil rich smoke billowing from the rear tires shrouded the straight section of road and at the same time scrubbed off a terrific amount of speed. He continued the rotation until he had completed another four revolutions, then allowed the stability safeguards to correct his movement.

Theo barely had time after returning the controls to the neutral position to make the corner.

Theo had known the specs on Kellen's car the moment he had laid eyes on it. A car buff, he knew that the Mustang was a throwback to an earlier time when going fast meant removing everything not expressly needed for speed. Things like electronic chassis controls, entertainment systems, and GPS warning alerts would have been scrapped. This allowed for a more visceral ride, but also left the car entirely at the mercy of the drivers talent.


He was betting that his talent exceeded Kellen's by a far margin, and with the assistance of modern stability controls, he understood his chances were better than fair that plan would work. 
In his rear view mirror he watched with barely restrained enthusiasm as the Mustang erupted from the smoke cloud, skipped off the curb and careened across the ninth hole of the adjoining golf course.

Kellen did his best to stop the machine, but the pent up momentum sent him sliding over the green, tearing four large swaths into the fragile surface before depositing it into one of the large greenside bunkers.

Theo chuckled to himself as he rejected Kellen's incoming call, having a fairly good understanding of what he would hear. He wondered what Kellen's story would be for the police, but it had better be good. He knew the owner of the golf course well, and he was no fan of Kellen's.

A second call illuminated his display. He accepted it with a glance.

"Theo, care to tell me what's going on?"

Kincaids voice rang in his ears, clearly annoyed.

"Kellen followed me from Victoria's, tried to drive me off the road."

Kincaid went silent. Theo knew his friend well enough to know that he had given him every bit of information he would need to reverse engineer what had happened. 

When Kincaid spoke, his voice carried a tone of bemused acceptance.

"I guess we're playing the back nine until the grounds crew can get it grown back. Maybe I should have told the designer to locate a pond there."

-End of Excerpt

The technology that I am referring to is the animated LCD panels on Kellen's car. Of course, Theo has these on his car as well, but as he is inside during the entire chase, they are outside of his field of vision and as such not worthy of note in this scene.

A few days ago, I came across this video, a concept animation by Toyota, showing much the same technology. It is the first implementation (although in a purely CG sense) of what I had envisioned ten years ago. In other chapters I outline the augmented reality windshields, but I had envisioned them as a clear overlay that would still allow for traditional vision through the glass.  


(In order to regain my geek honor, I decided to include these ideas in my current project. I may have done it even if I hadn't seen this video, but after seeing it I had no choice. If design committee's at Toyota were thinking along these lines, I needed to stop procrastinating and get my thoughts down on screen as soon as possible. 


The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is the case for all Sci-Fi writers, unless you are writing stuff so far out there that you can procrastinate all of your life and still be early by a few thousand years. 


So in closing, don't procrastinate. Don't rush out sub-standard work, as everything you do will be a permanent exhibit with your name attached (ask all of the actresses and actors that do nude scenes early in their careers, no one loses that footage, EVER).


PS-Yes, I realize that the picture I photoshopped is not of a Mustang, past, present, or future. But copyright laws the litigious lawyer-fest that they are, I decided to mock up an image using a shot of MY car, since I presumably own the rights to the picture I took with my camera in my yard with my car. Not sure if that will hold up in court though, so don't tell anyone, ok? 

Post : Chris Godsoe ~

Post:Why Speculative Fiction authors are always in a hurry.... by: Chris Godsoe was published Tuesday, December 6, 2011. Thank you for your visit, please comment. There are 0 comments on this post. Why Speculative Fiction authors are always in a hurry....
 

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