Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Writing - Back to the Future, 1984 and Cessation

Periodically, writers dip into the future, in fact some writers have made a living from it, others just feel the need to speculate.

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1984 - George Orwell

The book was published in 1949, when the aftermath of war was finally dissipating, and people were looking to what the world could be like in 30+ years in the future. It was full of Big Brother watching us and political control that smacked of Nazi-ism and the deception of the ordinary citizens by the state. How far is it from the truth? 

Let us consider.

North Korea could well be the model for the book if the latter had just been written. There are other countries with similar records, China as another for example.
Then there are the revelations by Edward Snowden about the surveillance activities of GCHQ and the NSA. The depth and extent to which they watch us is frankly worrying.

Other stories with similar themes would be the film 'V' where the anti-hero quotes 'people shouldn't be afraid of their governments but the governments should be afraid of the people'.

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Back to the Future II

Then of course there are the Back to the Future films the second which is of particular relevance. In the movie the first journey is forward from 1989 to October 21st 2015 and much has been made of the predictive success of the film.

What did it get right or wrong?

Well we are not quite able to fly cars around or skateboards but the silent running of today's electric vehicles is similar to those in the film. The idea of throwing rubbish into a tank to fuel the car may seem even more far-fetched but in Bristol and Bath there are buses that run on waste food and sewage.
Biff paid a bill with his thumbprint which is indirectly possible today. There are apps that allow you to pay using your smartphone which may have to be accessed by using your thumb. Similarly, there are computer operated door locks and even my central heating is controlled through my smartphone.
Marty wore a talking jacket and we have lots of wearable technology.
In the film there were shoes with self-tying laces and Nike have recently applied for a patent of the same.
Then there is the whole area of robotics which is currently enjoying a rapid acceleration in developments.
The biggest miss is the smartphone itself. They show Marty making a call from a street payphone.


The dystopian novel I published in 2013 is somewhat less positive than the BttF franchise. It is set in 2023 and considers the state of the UK at that time.

The story is a speculative journey into a possible future that may lie ahead of us all. There is evidence that such a future may not be impossible. We have been warned that unless we increase the ability to produce electricity there could be power cuts in the next ten years. Our modern day lives are permeated through with the need for electricity and its production. 
Although Cessation could be categorised as a dystopian story I find that rather a negative word and the purpose of writing the tale is to allow elements of hope in a seemingly desperate situation. 
The story begins in 2023 a couple of years after the lights go out for the last time. Our group of survivors are thrown together on a farm in the low Pennines north of the M62 motorway and within striking distance of a number of northern towns which could prove useful for supplies. Initially the group is small and live on a farm called Serendipity but as time passes the size of the group waxes and wanes for a variety of reasons.

This book is available in paperback and electronically. I deliver a warning at this point. Amazon advertise my story on 3 occasions under my name but the first 2 entrances are for paperback only at some ridiculous price of over £11. The 3rd entry has the paperback at £5.99 and the ebook at £2.93

God Bless