THE WRITER’S LIFE
It’s not too much of an imagination stretch, to see the world and humanity currently at a pivotal point, nor that we may be witnessing the beginning of the end. Doomsday was always going to be a longer period on the clock than a single day. And some people are rather excited about all of this.
Sci-fi writers see utopian and dystopian scenarios in near and far future settings, where current technology could plausibly change everything, for better or far worse.
Good science fiction can be affecting, because it could so easily be true. My depression is sometimes a tool, because oblivion is something I’ve seen, yet I’ve also dreamed of escape. With the clocks recently going back, the darkness is longer, tempting the imagination.
In the UK for example, the already tangible public resentment, towards a government which vainly clings to power, could erupt into violent protest. In response, the government might impose martial law. In the event of a complete breakdown, a government isn’t just useless, it becomes the enemy. And then, something could happen which makes people think differently, and warring factions are forced to confront a common threat: “We have your internet…” (Imagine the confusion and panic) “…We demand a general election, and when it’s agreed, we will return your internet. We are Anonymous.”
It’s a story with two key elements: a ransom demand, and a third party. A larger scale sci-fi might have the USA on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea. Then, extraterrestrials – who have perhaps been observing us for millennia – threaten to use their advanced technology to destroy a planet they see as infantile and un-evolved, removing a carcinogen from the galaxy. This scenario may be the only one to bring Trump and Kim into alliance, fictionally or otherwise.
Those two outlines are ones I may use for some upcoming stories. What makes them good material, is that both could go either way, and neither is too difficult to imagine at the moment.
I’m still able to write sci-fi shorts while I’m working on my family history book, simply because there is so much material out there (physically and fictionally, dark matter too) for the mind which enquires of the dark. And with a brain which could do with a tranquilliser dart sometimes, I have a lot to write.
After editing down a couple of my horrors recently, they served a number of purposes. It can be difficult to not cross-pollinate genres with writing styles, and there was never a danger of my parents coming to any harm in the garden of England they’re walking through in the book, but analogies are easy to paint unintentionally (especially for the surrealist writer, who can place much subliminal thought in a story), so I was keen to finish any horror hangovers before I moved on. The recent flash fiction horrors then, served as place holders. It’s inevitable I’ll return to horror, but just as that originally led me to refine science fiction, the latter worlds are still safe for my broader mind to inhabit, while I concentrate on a much more personal, introverted and longer story.
I’ve found balance, after some temporary unrest, so that I can concentrate sufficiently on a personal book, while also able to churn out the other stories which people seem to like.
There are two new sci-fi tales coming out in the next fortnight: ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Animals’ is this weekend, then ‘The Long Now Clock’ a week after, and there are more planned. My next two books are on schedule, and I’m enjoying working in two different genres simultaneously.
Sometimes, my mind can wander where it shouldn’t. Other times, it finds a way. It’s like those two warring factions uniting in the face of a common unknown, and it’s that which we don’t understand, which we find most terrifying, because it renders us powerless and futile. But to better understand it, we need to interrogate it. And that’s how I live with my brain, riddled as it is with many riddles.
Doomsday is always longer than a day. And the clock can be altered. I should know this, as I’m a sci-fi writer. It’s that which keeps me sane, depending on who you interrogate.
Writing allows me to deal with my depression and anxiety. Most importantly, on my own. I don’t know if I ever want to be “cured”, if to be cured means to become “normal”, when I don’t see myself as normal, and I celebrate the differences in humanity. As my mind continues to cede to me, I’m able to write about it.
I’m not really capable of excitement, but I’m quite relieved about all of this.