The following is an article I wrote in 2014 about a sci-fi novel I thought up. This story is still in a rough draft stage because I've spent the last 10 or more years focusing on The Lightning in Her Veins (release date TBD. But sign-up for my newsletter to be notified when it comes out!). Also note, I've had to update some links, so not everything from the original post will link to 2014 sources.
In January 2014, I was completely surprised when an idea for a sci-fi novel took over my creative world and inspired me to write 50,000 words of a rough draft. You might be thinking, historical fiction to sci-fi . . . bit of a leap! Actually, I've always been a huge sci-fi fan, and was even raised in what you might call a "sci-fi family." My dad read all the 1970s and 1980s sci-fi classics, and my brother and I loved science. He even became a bio-chemist. Not to mention the first book I tried to write was sci-fi. I had been thinking up the idea throughout college, but when I finally got around to writing it, the story of A White Room swept me off my feet.
Now S0L-M8 has grabbed my creative attention. By the way, "S0L M8" is texting lingo for "Soul Mate", inspired by predictions of how texting might influence our future languages.
Here's my initial write up for the story:
A Love Story
2153, the world is dead, the air toxic, the sun searing, terrestrial life wiped out. Humanity has survived by retreating to encapsulated, underground homes, all of society geographically dispersed but electronically connected. The only time humans leave the safety of their homes is when the United Continental Genome Algorithm places someone with their digitally-determined soul mate .
Caraway Pearman met her soul-mate, JayBird, when she was five years old, and there is no doubt in her mind that he is her one and only. That is until they meet a couple online, Geyser and Chrysalis, two people the algorithm matched as children but who are clearly not soul mates. Caraway and Jaybird always thought the algorithm was flawless, especially because there is no mechanism for re-selection or what people once called divorce. Caraway and Jay’s arguing suddenly becomes a terrifying possibility: maybe they were a mistake too.
Caraway seeks help from her mother, but in the middle of their conversation, there is screaming, shouting and then the connection is gone. Caraway and JayBird learn the Human Operated Robot Network or HORNET authorities placed her parents on informational lock down and house arrest, but what's more is that they have removed her twin siblings and her 17-year-old brother Carob from the house. It's unheard of, and no one will tell her why and the systems she grew up with aren't calibrated for this situation. Desperate to help her family, Caraway and JayBird decide to risk criminal charges and their lives to help the only people she has ever truly known. Their journey will not only determine who they are to each other. It will change everything they thought they knew about their world.
I got the idea while washing dishes. My husband is a total techno geek, so I know about a lot of up-and-coming technology from him, and I was thinking about how we are in the middle of a technological revolution, much like those who lived in Gilded Age (there's the connection to history). Rapid industrial or technological revolution has a tremendous impact on generations of people, culture and society. Things are progressing at an incredible rate, and it occurred to me that in ten years, I might not be washing dishes the same way I do today.
Wait, let's look back at that idea moment in slow motion. I'm washing dishes, and I thought to myself, we can go to school online, and that will eventually spread to more than college. We can have products airlifted to us from Amazon or just print them out on a 3D printer. Some surgeons are performing complex procedures on someone located thousands of miles away. We're growing meat in petri dishes and turning buildings into pollution-combatting growing centers. We get our exercise through video games like the Wii. We can socialize virtually, and pretty much find anything online.
So, what if we never left our homes because we didn't have to, and over time, our society and world changed to a point where we couldn't leave anymore? Say if the environment collapsed, another expectation for the future. Then my idea exploded into hundreds of details, and by the time I walked to the bedroom to tell my husband, I had a whole futuristic world to explain.
Idea to Story My mind exploded with ideas, but it wasn't a full story yet. The next step: research spree. My favorite! That's my secret to turn an idea into a story. I was unsure at first how to research the future, and then, I remembered TED Talks, which have tons of videos about potential technology that may well redefine our future. I determined that I really didn't want to write a book that predicts the future, but write a book that reflects the possibilities of today. Everything in this novel is going to be based on this potential technology being coming from where we are today.
Oh, and it's a love story. You guys know how I like to use pictures for inspiration, and I just happened across this image taken in 2011 during the Vancouver riots (it's also the cover of a Placebo album.) The feeling you
have when you look at this photo is what I want to create with my novel. Love amidst chaos. Beautiful. I'd seen that photo before my idea, as it was taken a few years earlier and what's interesting, is that I remember reading that the boy in it did an interview where he said it was not an embrace but just him trying to help a girl up after she'd fallen. It sounded like they were strangers, much like the characters in my story before they are matched. Yet, when I researched the image for this article, I found a Guardian article saying that they were a couple at the time, so this may have been more intimate than two strangers after all. Well, I wanted to share the image with you because it will be the image I return to time and time again as I continue work on this, just as I returned to the image of the Doyle-Mounce House over and over for A White Room. Keep in mind, things may change as I write and there may be some surprises in the future..
Boy, were there surprises, indeed!
Imagine how shocked I was when a potential origin story for my idea happened to all of us in 2020! COVID really did put us in a situation where we needed to continue to live but at home, and there were and still are concerns of pandemics happening more and more and possibly becoming the norm, which after two years, it was for a while. Like in my story, children from preschool to high school started attending online education, a giant portion of the public embraced remote work and entire industries re-evaluated their products and services. Thankfully, we were released back into the world, but what if we weren't? The sci-fi world I created suddenly had a real-world backstory!
In 2014, I said we were on the cusp of the future, but today, everyone says we are in the future. There's so much new technology, most people can't keep up, but not everything turned out as expected. Google Glass didn't go anywhere and Amazon is STILL figuring out their drone delivery system. Self driving cars and environmentally safe cars still aren't where they should be.
Som e of the technology I researched is still around and has progressed in different ways, including military bug drones and chetah-like robots. We also have industrial and dancing robots. I didn't expect the dancing but that's a beautiful part of our world, we have fun and we get silly. Virtual reality and augmented reality found their way to the consumer market, but have not developed as quickly in the social realm as I thought. Instead, it's become heavily used by the enterprise and public sector, healthcare and engineering. Of course, 50% is still video games, but like I said, we like fun.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing climate change and other environmental issues as predicted and we are all learning to embrace new weather problems and the facing issues for our ocean. We also have the pretty big addition of AI, making a big splash with ChatGPT; however, what most don't realize is AI is already used in many different industries people interact with on a daily basis.
And yet, despite it all, I'm still washing my dishes exactly the same as I was nine years ago when I first thought of the idea. Darn. LOL.
As of this writing, I've placed this novel on the back-burner for now, so it will be interesting to see how much my original idea of the future develops by the time I can work on it again.
One last update, since this book idea is about love after all, the Kissing Couple from my inspiration picture . . . they are still together!!!