Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I hate inventing technology

I suppose that may sound weird for a science fiction writer, but it's true.  Sometimes, anyway.  I don't always hate inventing technology.  Sometimes I come up with a really neat idea for a piece of technology and I just run with it (sometimes things I wish I had the ability to invent,) but when it comes to populating a story with environmentally-appropriate gizmos, I'm often at a bit of a loss.

This is particularly a problem because much of what I write takes place in the near future.  Technology (computers, tablets, e-readers, phones, etc) evolve SOOO frequently that I have a hard time finding a balance between what's familiar and what's realistic.  Thirty years from now, will we even still use the word "computer?"  As a more generic term it'll probably still be around, but the specific types we have:  desktop, PC, MAC, laptop, notebook, netbook, tablet...  They'll probably all be long gone.  By that token, I could make up any word I like for the gizmos my characters use, but if I use terms that nobody has ever heard of I then have to explain them.  Explaining that a Dooziedoo is a computer 1,000 times more powerful than anything we have today but it fits under your fingernail would be a complete infodump, taking the reader out of the story--at least if it's meant to just be background information that is only mentioned once or twice.  (Actually, fingernail computers could be fun.  But I wasn't planning on doing that...)  If I use more familiar terms the reader will be able to breeze past it easier, but it might make my society look old-fashioned.  I try to take logical leaps on where technology will go next, but thirty years ago, could anyone have guessed at the variety of gadgets we have today?

In some respects, writing technology that will exist a long way off in the future is easier than the things just coming around the bend.  The farther out we go, the less familiar we expect everything to be so we can just make everything up.  In the near future a lot of things will be the same, while others will be different.

Okay, so I don't always hate making up technology, but last night I decided I didn't like the name I'd used for a handheld computer in my novel, and it took me forever to come up with something better.  In fact, I'm still not sure I like what I came up with, but it will have to do for now.

How about you?  How do you handle advancing the future?

1 comment:

Charlie Holmberg said...

This is why I write fantasy. XD