Predicting All of the Future

The other day I came across an old review [August 2012] of my novel Flash, in which the reviewer wrote:

“Jonat finds himself on the wrong end of an enormous corporate conspiracy. This is the point where most protagonists would find some way to expose the malfeasance and cleverly put their enemies into a position of harmlessness. Jonat, on the other hand, embarks on a bizarre rampage of assassination and murder when confronted…”

In reading this review, I realized that in 2012 many Americans had, and some still do, the naïve assumption that merely exposing corporate or government wrong-doing is sufficient to right the situation. In the past, this may have been at least partly true. Given what’s occurred in the last four years, it’s clear [at least to me] that this is no longer a valid assumption. And given that Flash takes place more than a hundred years in the future, I’d submit that my assumption – that mere “exposure” wasn’t going to solve the problems Jonat faces – is far more accurate than the reviewer’s opinion.

I don’t cite this as an “I told you so” theme, but as a reminder that both authors and reviewers often carry unconscious assumptions about how society operates and project those assumptions into the future, without considering how technological change, either forward or backward, and social change may change basic personal assumptions about society.

Too often, reviewers make that mistake, even when an author, as I believe I did, depicts a society with different social and cultural mores, and, in this case, where mere “exposure” is meaningless, because no one knows whether that “exposure” is accurate or fabricated… as seems to be the case more and more today… a mere eight years after the review I cited… and not one hundred.

Writers work hard to depict future societies, or fantasy worlds, and the impact technology or magic can have on society, but it’s also a good idea to show how those changes impact individual behavior and personal assumptions, to predict all of the future, if you will, but that can be a challenge when the changes an author projects go against current deeply-held and almost unconscious assumptions of readers… and even reviewers.

4 thoughts on “Predicting All of the Future”

  1. Wine Guy says:

    While the vigilantism that seems common in Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy is not (I hope) common in today’s world, I can easily see it becoming so for a number of reasons:
    1. Failure of the legislature bodies at the local, state, and national level to adequately (competently?) represent their voters,
    2. Lack of even-handed enforcement of laws not only by law enforcement but by the various government bodies that enact rules/regs for day-to-day governance of the workings of society (witness the problems with healthcare).
    3. Failure of the media to be even-handed in reporting of the issues of the day – too much interest in telling us why we should think that the recent occurrences mean one thing or another and not enough interest in passing along actual facts.
    4. The increasing feeling of powerlessness in multiple parts of society/general public.
    5. The social mores that many of us learned growing up are increasingly irrelevant – and they aren’t being replaced with new ones; they are just being discarded.

    1. Grey says:

      I often think about this. The people in the US who will be most affected by failing ex-urban economies, and most affected by climate change seem to be the people that have all of the guns. The political party that they back and that has passed economic policies that disadvantage these people, but so far for decades has successfully directed their attention and blame somewhere else.

      What will the people with all the guns do when they realize that they have been lied to and used? What if they reach a breaking point before they realize that?

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        The left rewards the unsuccessful. Subsidy increases frequency. The right doesn’t do that so much, so they’re at least not encouraging losers to stay losers while breeding more losers.
        Hint: minority unemployment is at the lowest levels ever; Democrats didn’t accomplish that.

        Climate change is less of a crisis than the power-hungry alarmists suggest (if it’s a crisis at all) as the failure of their more severe predictions demonstrates; and in any event, minimally intervened-upon capitalism is getting alternative energy and electric vehicles out in its own good time, as the prerequisite technology matures.
        Hint: my next car may be electric, NOT for environmental concerns but because they’ve advanced to the point where initial+lifecycle cost vs functionality (acceptable range, excellent performance, lower maintenance, beautiful QUIET) are to the point that they fulfill my expectations. _That’s_ what brings rapid change, not authoritarian central planners (the far left) but the marketplace offering goods and services that satisfy people’s expectations _now_ at least as much as any promise of avoiding disaster a decade or two from now.

        The only ones that (through their own actions!) risk being the target of revolution are the liberty thieves of the left; and only if they illegitimately take and hold the amount of power that some of them promise would let them create a socially “just” green utopia (by means both economically and physically impossible, and contrary to human nature, aside from those math challenged persons who think they’re entitled to free everything of course). (to be sure, I think the left is always illegitimate, but powerless, they’re harmless fools, not worth a revolution or bloodied conscience to get rid of)

        Oh, and authoritarian central planners like the PRC and the former USSR caused way more major environmental problems than wild-west(ern) capitalists did.

        And not least, those who find the above by itself far too cruel are quite welcome to be generous with their OWN resources, whether individually or in voluntary cooperation with others. The one honest (if misguided) left-winger I can think of (Carter) did lots of volunteer work; so if even he thought it worthwhile, there’s no excuse not to consider that option.

  2. Tom says:

    Writers can invent environments that are complex and fascinating but the inhabitants who control what happens in these bright new worlds are humans: there’s the rub.

    If the brave new world makes it impossible to reason then mayhem is an expected result.

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