Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Thursday, September 29, 2011

keep up appearances

The writing proceeds apace. I'm starting to see a shape to the book and, even though I don't know how it ends, I see HOW it ends, if that makes sense. The mechanics, the motivations, the why's of these characters that can make certain events occur, and conclude. It's interesting. I keep coming to these moments where I don't know what's next, and then, startlingly, I know. I see it. I tell a friend of mine about what's happening, and I say, "Well, apparently, this is happening." and I sound a little nonplussed, because, honestly, I have a general idea, but these characters surprise me.

And here I am. Writing more. It seems I can't help it. Once I get started, I can't really stop.

In totally unrelated news, one of my favorite authors, John Crowley (though, seriously, Livejournal?) has an article at Laphams Quarterly about fiction and the future. In addition to being an excellent read by one of the more interesting minds out there, it's also an insight into the process that, if I'm guessing correctly, informed the creation of Engine Summer. He's got some ideas about how writers predict the future in their work, and he brings up something I've always found fascinating, especially as it relates to science fiction.

When I was growing up, watching science fiction movies and TV shows and reading science fiction books, I always noticed how the future worlds these works created were always extrapolations of the present. Logan's Run saw the future as polyester and plastic and curvilinear surfaces. The Tomorrow People was all brutalist architecture and the depression of 1970's Great Britain. Star Trek looked like a 60's hipster's idea of the future, etc. etc. Crowley came up with an alternate method - figure out where things are going and posit the opposite trend.

Really, he says it much better than I ever could, but it all made me think of Frank Herbert's ideas on prescience in Dune. Herbert thought that any prescient vision automatically set into motion the circumstances under which it would come to pass. Well, we've obviously disproven that time and again, and it's comforting to think that, not only is the future stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we CAN imagine. That actually gives me hope. It's easy to imagine the ways that our mistakes and stupidities screw up the future, but I take some comfort in the fact that the future will be screwed up in vastly different and more interesting ways.

No comments:

Post a Comment