I pretty consistently read about emerging technologies and scientific breakthroughs. It interests me and, if stories are nothing more than possibility taken to its logical conclusion, they are a goldmine of story ideas. I have a lot of ideas that take place in some future, whether it be The Manifest Destiny and mankind’s journey to the stars, or The Time Bubble‘s future 100 years from now. However, I’ve had a hard time world-building in a way the serves the story, is fully realized, and isn’t so similar to our present day that it’s hard to believe I’m writing about the future.
As an aspiring (I almost wrote burgeoning, but that can’t be right) science fiction writer I spend a lot of time reading about the future. One of the things that has my attention and interest right now is the transhumanist movement, or the attempt by a small subset of people to achieve immortality through enhancements of their biological form. This could mean using biology and chemistry to reverse the natural aging process, using cybernetic enhancements to prolong life, or forsaking biological needs altogether by transferring consciousness into a digital form.
But as I’ve been reading about this movement (specifically The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istfan – yes that’s his real name and, fun fact, he plans to run for President next year) it occurred to me that my “vision” of the future has been too general. When researching The Time Bubble I spent a lot of time thinking in broad strokes – how will buildings be different? How will medicine advance? What will shopping be like? A major plot point to the story is brain enhancement and all of the moral and philosophical conundrums that stem from that, but it’s only spoken of in terms of broad discussion, like privacy and government. What’s missing from my vision of the future, I realized, was how individuals might change with technology. How their morals would adjust. How their belief systems would clash with technological advancements.
The transhumanist movement, as an example, is a very personal thing. In The Transhumanist Wager, the main character, Jethro Knights, is a radical transhumanist that takes it upon himself to lead the movement in (often scary) new directions. His personal belief, however, is that transhumanism has to be a selfish endeavor. He doesn’t want to help other people live forever, he wants to find a way to live forever for himself alone. That character trait makes everything in the story flow into and out of Jethro – it gives the story stakes. It makes sense to explore ideas like this on a personal level. I neglected to do this in The Time Bubble.
I think there is the kernel of a great idea with The Time Bubble (and probably a better title somewhere, too), and I think it has to do with the characters struggling with new technology. Whenever there is something life changing as personal brain implants would be it affects government, religion, education, and everyday life. Right now, The Time Bubble only goes halfway with exploring those ideas. To be a properly built world, it needs to go all the way.