Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

On being Strossed


There is a problem in writing near-future science fiction, which is that the real world is often closer to your fiction than you think. Charles Stross has written a fair bit about his experiences of this when writing his near-future novels Halting State and Rule 34, with key chunks of the plot of the after (and it’s originally planned title) eaten by Bernie Madoff and by rumours about Goldman Sachs (rumours which of course are not true).

I think I may have just had a similar experience, albeit on a smaller scale.

I’m currently working on a short story that has as its core conceit the crowdsourcing of various works to benefit the environment, with rich westerners spending their evenings driving drone bulldozers on environmental construction sites etc.. And now I read that Google is planning to deploy drones as a way of tracking and combatting ivory poachers.

Cool idea, one I now feel I should have had, but it opens some of the same cans of worms as the ones I was working on in my story. Guess I’ll have to work harder on the rewrites.


Author: davecl

Astronomy, science, science fiction

4 thoughts on “On being Strossed

  1. This is why William Gibson’s recent approach — of using the skills he developed as a science fiction writer to write about the present — seems so powerful and relevant now. Why not incorporate that Google ivory project into your story? Doing so would require you to learn more about it and to imagine what it will feel like and what it means, exactly the literary tasks science fiction should be performing anyway.

    • My sense of what Gibson is doing is that instead of using the future to write about the present, which essentially is what most SF writers are doing, he’s using the present to write about the future. That’s a much harder proposition, and something that I think only Gibson has really been able to manage.

      I may well be able to use these Google drones in the story, at least as back information if not as some extra garnishes to the plot.

  2. So the question is now: what worms did you see in the cans?

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