Confessions of a Pessimistic Megalomaniac

I have to confess that this summer hasn’t been as productive as I’d hoped, writing wise. This is partly due to the recent impossibly hot weather (now resolved into a more normal British summer of grey, cool and sometimes wet), partly due to a certain disillusionment at my lack of recent story sales, and partly due to having Beloved at home (he’s been very good at not disturbing me, but frankly I’ve been looking for an excuse not to work, and he’s one of the best).

However, despite the lack of progress on ‘Star Season’ and despite not having got any new short stories out for the last couple of months, I have managed to get the future sorted. The future according to me, that is. SF writers are in the unique position of being able – obliged even – to create history. And it’s future history, which means the past can be plundered with wild and irresponsible abandon.

In my version of the future, humanity is going to start paying for its mistakes in the next few decades. If it were the real world, then I reckon we’d be (perhaps will be) more or less doomed, having well and truly messed our nest. However, the joy of making your own history is that you don’t have to play by the rules. In my future, something intervenes. Not aliens as such, more an outside influence which is going to mess us up further – or save us, depending on how you look at it. Either way it irrevocably changes humanity. And the ramifications of that change will reverberate throughout the next few centuries.

Science Fiction is about space as well as time. So at some point in the future, humanity will leave earth behind. We won’t be doing it in quite the conventional manner though, and it won’t exactly be a choice. Aliens feature of course, though not to the extent they do in some people’s universes. If humanity is anything to go by, ‘intelligence’ may well be self-limiting: I have a nasty suspicion that the smarter a species thinks it is, the more likely it is to trash itself. So, any aliens humans encounter in my future are either the few who did boldy go while somehow managing to escape self-annihiliation, or the ones who stayed at home and are quite happy there thank-you.

My future is also cyclical, not in the time-twisting Moorcockian sense, just in that humanity and human civilisation (not neccessarily the same thing) travel through peaks and troughs. What is lost can be found. Then lost again. Or vice versa.

My future history spans about seven thousand years. Obviously that’s just a framework, but getting the overview in place has given me a certain degree of writerly satisfaction, as now I know how stories (existing and planned) fit together. I’ve also developed a strange desire to go ‘Cower, puny mortals, for I control your destiny’. Hey, it’s my future, I’m allowed to play with it. And I think I’m going to have fun doing just that.

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