Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More oily editorial updates

Posted by goatchurch at 3:01 PM
For those who want a video to watch, here is Robert Newman's A history of oil. For a conflicting story of oil there's this article from Armed Madhouse -- a very fine book which I am now reading. It's full of all kinds of short stories and vignettes on every page. It matters naught whether they are true; the stories are believable... it you are able to swallow the idea that our rulers now are no better than many of the rulers we know from ancient history.

Among the story submissions for the MundaneSF issue of Interzone are some rather apocalyptic visions about the end of oil in which all of society collapses and there's no longer anything to buy at the malls and people are reduced to living off weeds in between bouts of starting at their dead TV screens.


Think about it.

Humans were operating great European empires in the 1700s entirely without gasoline, satellite navigation or access to modern materials (plastics). You can be sure that when the gas runs low, every man and boy will be rounded up and put to work, doing the labour that used to be done by powered machines. We, our muscles, like horses, will once again be needed. It is very likely that society would become more integrated and interdependent than it has ever been before. Only with cheap oil do we have the luxury of going it alone and living our own isolated worlds, which is much more inefficient way of life.

In the future we might start living our entire lives near our parents, as humans always used to do till we got into the habit of splitting to the far corners of the globe. For many a modern person these days, this might seem unbearable. But maybe if we lived with our parents it would stop them becoming so eccentric; the world would be a better place if the older generation were prevented from becoming insane.

The quality of writing in the submissions is very high, which makes thinning them down jolly difficult for a novice editor like me. Unfortunately, no one is giving me any big ideas.

In 50 years time the world is going to be utterly unrecognizable to what it is today, and it won't be due to brain downloads or time travel.

If you can sum up your story in one sentence at the beginning, do so, and then get on with telling me about the big world beyond.

The key to the future is in the past. The old ways of doing things will come back, except it'll be different. It'll be like going back to grade school when you are grown up and 40 years old. Could you do it, go through the motions? Would it be very easy?

In some parts of the world the past is coming back. Here is a Carnegie Council podcast about North Korea. One of the worst famines of the twentieth century happened there in the mid-1990s and nobody noticed. This in a small country totally isolated from the world and apparently able to manufacture nuclear reactors and missiles. This ought to be impossible.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. How does one write a story set in the next fifty years (or so)-- without a significant breakthrough in technology -- simultaneous with a 'big idea'? What exactly are you looking for?

6/14/2007 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Who said there can't be a breakthrough in technology? Just be reasonable, probable. No fudging. This will require a lot of legwork before you can project into the future.

6/16/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger goatchurch said...

Well, here are some very big ideas that are nothing to do with breakthroughs in technology.

How much more technology do we need to have a nuclear war, or finally decide we're going to feed the starving of Africa?

The existence of the United States itself was a big idea in 1776. How much technology did that use that wasn't already available in 1492?

6/19/2007 04:05:00 AM  

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