1. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20

    how your time period affects your writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Oct 19, 2012.

    I'm writing a sci-fi short story, in a dingy space station. I want it to have a really old timey sci-fi feel, from like the 70's, so it can be set at like the edges of space, but without all of the advances with actually have made technologically.

    For instance, I feel like if I were writing this story 40 years ago, I could say "They sat at the edge of Neptune, reading out the pages from the printer," but I'm afraid nowadays people might say "Uh, if they're at the edge of Neptune, surely technology has advanced enough that they aren't printing things on paper. They would be using ipods, nimrod." Or some such thing, I'm just trying to make a point, that wasn't necessarily the best example.

    Will people just accept the world I create, or does it have to have some sort of consistency with current standards?
     
  2. Fivvle
    Offline

    Fivvle Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Washington
    If you want that olde-timey feel, I suggest reading something like 2001: A Space Odyssey. One thing I remember from that book in particular was the use of velcro to provide space-flight passengers with a semblance of gravity.
     
  3. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20
    Yes, but that's my point. That was written in the late 60's. Could something like that still be written today, or is it too outdated? Can you write about the future as if you are writing from in the past?
     
  4. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I would think it would be okay as long as you warn your reader and make sure you do your research
    not slipping up and mentioning something out of your time limit -
    other genres do it - I've noticed a few years back noir mysteries had come back into
    style.

    Also there's a lot of angle's to sci-fi that don't have to be technologically based - in fact too
    many to list. If yours is based on dazzling with dated technologically it probably won't work but
    if that's not the main drive of your story - I say go for it.
     
  5. 123456789
    Offline

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    6,339
    Likes Received:
    3,086
    This is a great question, one I've contemplated for my own works.

    One thing that always sticks in my mind about Isaac Asimov's Foundation
    was his inclusion of cigars. Initially, I thought "Damn, they have space ships and galactic empires and people are still smoking cigars?"

    Then I realized, this is after all science fiction. Even speculative fiction can' hope to predict what evolves, what regress, and what stagnates. Sure, big things like transportation, weapons, etc, may require more explanation if they deviate drastically from what one would expect. But all the other details, like paper, birth day parties, etc, I think are small enough that any one of many factors might allow for their continued existence. The reason could be economic, cultural, or whatever.

    Personally, I think that some parallels between a sci fi world and our real world can help to make the reader feel more at home.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Read Asimov's Foundation stories. Some aspects have an anachronistic feel, and yet the technology and cultures are believable. Even though it's set so far in the future that Earth is long forgotten, it's believable, especially given the theme of growth and collapse of civilization.

    EDIT: I see that 123456789 has also cited Foundation.

    Sometimes things come back into style, even unhealthy things.
     
  7. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Cogito, I hope you're not saying that Foundation is unhealthy. :)
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Hardly. 123456789 mentioned cigar-smoking in the distant future portrayed in Foundation. I abhor tobacco use. It's an ugly, smelly habit that kills on a grand scale. Nevertheless, it persists as a cultural practice in one form or another. Even if it falls from favor to the point of disappearing, I suspect it will continue to reappear down the line. There's a romanticism associated with it that transcends common sense.

    There are many such social affectations. Some are as harmless as fashion statements (I'm waiting for a resurgence of the Zoot suit), others with tragic consequences associated with them (drug culture, extremes of body image between obesity as a symbol of prosperity and anorexic leanness as a standard of beauty.)
     
  9. SuperVenom
    Offline

    SuperVenom Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    South Wales
    Not a book but idea wise, firefly had a space theme and merged it well with the old west.
     
  10. maidahl
    Offline

    maidahl Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2012
    Messages:
    332
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    I'mscared
    If it's a severe stretch of the imagination, make sure it is not such a mental strain for your target audience to maintain suspension of disbelief. If it's well-written and appropriate as per your common sense as the author, then make it suitable for your intended reader. Teen audiences usually need things more spelled out, connected, and as such, depending on the class of book and author's rhetorical skills, pacing varies.

    http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Revenge_of_the_Cybermen_(TV_story)
    Link to a cool 29th century example aglitter with wonderous details that work for me.

    "The House of Mirth" is a cool period film, which is a kind of cool way to figure out how to approach time period stuff. And god is in the details, as usual.
     
  11. SuperVenom
    Offline

    SuperVenom Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    South Wales
    Besides who knows in the future what they will advance, maybe they worked on perfecting teleporters and thought that printers where as good as they needed to be so didn't advance them. Or the company that where making the next machine to replace the printer got sued (possibly by apple lol....joke) and therefore research and development never took off. we cant argue with your vision of the future, it's yours. Obviously they lifted the smoking restriction on spaceships though.
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    all you need to do to avoid confusion is make clear to the readers early on, what the level of technological progress is in the time frame you've chosen for the storyline...

    a nostalgic look back at our earlier decades can be quite entertaining, imo... for those too young to have been alive then, it'll be a bit of a lesson and for those of us who were, it would be fun to recall how much more hands-on life was then...
     
  13. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Firefly, already mentioned, had human expansion to distant parts of space, places where the resources for technology weren't available and humans without a lot of money had to revert to single-human-sized technology. So spaceships visited planets with horse-drawn wagons.

    Battlestar Galactica (the remake) had a history of robots taking over computer networks, so computer networking, at least on battleships, was extremely limited. That meant that, among other things, they used old-fashioned tables (I don't know what they're called) to simulate their battles. I could easily imagine them having printers.

    In Babylon Five, one of the "future" episodes had a future where technology had been lost/rejected and I think that people were all the way down to hand-copying manuscripts.

    So I can easily imagine:

    "Printers? _Printers_? I haven't seen a piece of paper since my great-aunt's wedding. Surely it would be less expensive to hand out tablets, even for free?"
    "You know the price per kilogram for bringing in cargo, like computer tablets? It was half a year's profits just to bring in those two printers."
    "Well, of course you wouldn't import them halfway across the galaxy; you'd make your own."
    "You see any factories on this planet?"
    "Well, no."
    "You see all those reeds around the landing strip as you were coming in?"
    "Yeah, and?"
    "Papyrus--well, close enough. We make paper in the hay barn--in the spring when it's empty."
    "....oh."
    "But if you want 'tablets', there's plenty in the school."
    "Oh, that's nice. Some sort of government program?"
    "No. Slate. And chalk."
    ".... Hey, that's a great field of corn you've got over there!"
     

Share This Page