Jonathon Dean

Writer. Human. Nerd.

Tag: Sci-fi (page 1 of 3)

I’m a Writer Again!

So this week I’ve actually managed to do some writing!

I know, exciting, right?

Since breaking my hand last year, and the resulting 8 months or so of casts, surgeries, more casts, physiotherapy sessions and so on, all of my writing habits were effectively destroyed. Really, I can’t stress the importance of developing good writing habits. Without them, I’ve been lost, and really struggling to get any writing done at all (you may have noticed from the fact that my blog’s done basically nothing for rather a long time). Only now am I starting to rebuild them properly, and I’m seeing my productivity shoot right back up again.

That’s not to say that was the only problem. For months I’ve been having idea after idea, working on it a little bit, then realising either I couldn’t make it work, or it needed some pretty major rethinks before I had a chance of being able to write it down in anything like a reasonable timescale. Those projects might see the light of day eventually, but right now, they’re pushed to the back burner. Finding the right idea, and I think I just may have found it, is the thing that makes you want to work on this every day.

Either way, I’ve got my idea, I’ve got my mojo back (baby), and I’m ready to rock.

What Do?

I’m torn at the moment.

I don’t seem to have any particular writing projects ongoing any more. Which means I’m antsing for a new one, which means I have to pick and develop one from the big long list in my brain, which means that actually being able to sit down with characters I know and put them on the page is kinda not really possible.

I’m also wanting to write more short fiction, since it’s been a while since I had one of those published, and I wouldn’t mind being able to have a few more pieces of my actual fiction online for you guys to read (and maybe add a new page to the site to list off my published fiction and where you can find it) – but for the moment that is quite a small amount, and I think having a tiny amount listed would probably look worse than having none listed at all.

Which means I can pretend to have had loads published, when really there’s not been a huge amount as I’ve tended to neglect the short fiction aspect of writing in recent years.

This was a cunning plan up until the point where I told you about it. Whoops.

Now, I’m not really one for reading authors’ websites. Most of my reading materials tend to come from the charity shop, as I’m not fond of reading ebooks and commercial book prices tend to get very expensive very quickly if you read quite as much as I do.

I know, I know, I’m hoping to make a living out of reading, and Kant’s Categorical Imperative would suggest that buying books almost exclusively from a charity shop isn’t great (honestly guys,  stop waving your degrees in political theory at me, mine’s already giving me dirty looks), but then there can be no ethical consumption under capitalism anyway, so this is a systemic problem and Kant can have an ethical ghostfight with Marx over it if he wants.

(Before you write in, yes I know that’s not a Marx quote, and apparently comes from the Tumblr hivemind – but I reckon Marx would have agreed with it anyway, and some ghost or other has to fight ghost-Kant, otherwise he’ll start trying to organise ectoplasm for maximum utility.)

So, as I was saying before that particular tangent, I don’t tend to read author webpages, particularly not of ones like myself who haven’t managed to attract a publisher’s eye with shiny things (agents, publishers, if you’re looking, I have some shiny things for you to look at), but it seems to me that there’s little point with no actual fiction on display. Who wants to read the blog of a writer who, as far as you can tell, hasn’t done much and isn’t very good in any case?

So short stories should be my current goal, but I can’t say I’m as fond of writing them as I am longer projects.

In any case, blog posts where I write about ghost-Kant and my own lack of committing to a new project for 500 words don’t get a new project committed to. But then, very little seems to these days.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a blank word document to stare at.

Genre Tax

With taxes being big news on both sides of the Atlantic, from the Tories’ major u-turn on their proposed raise in NI contributions for self-employed people, to the continued questions over Donald Trump’s refusal to release  his tax returns, we should take a look at taxes.

Tax forms a major part of the proper functioning of a modern society. As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes, and the same is true in your fictional world. As we’ve already looked at death (twice), it’s time to take a look at tax. Continue reading

The Afterlife

With even more celebrity deaths in the news since I wrote my last piece claiming that 2016 was the year of death, the year seems determined to prove me right with the deaths of Muhammad Ali, Kenny Baker, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Ron Glass, Andrew Sachs, John Glenn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael and sanity. That being the case, it’s time to look at another aspect of death that has a profound effect on the fictional society that you’re creating: the afterlife.

Every society has some view of  what happens after death – whether that includes some kind of afterlife, or simply a nothingness – and that belief can have a profound effect on how people behave. A well-defined belief in an afterlife can add depth to your world, and define the shape that your society takes. Continue reading

Political Opposition

In the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, increasingly extreme views have appeared in the UK’s mainstream political sphere. From increased racist attacks on migrants, to more and more openly xenophobic policies being put forward by the Conservative government under Theresa May. This week, one Conservative councillor has even gone so far as to start a petition demanding that continued support of the UK’s membership of the EU be considered an act of treason.

This raises an interesting question for your fictional world: How are the people who openly oppose the majority’s beliefs or the government’s policies treated within your society? We have looked at violent dissent before, but not everyone in your society must think the same way, or agree with the same things, without it being an issue of extremism. Real-life societies tend to comprise a broad spectrum of views and opinions which may not necessarily be compatible with one another. So how does your society deal with these differing views? Continue reading

Pollution

This week brings news that China and the USA have both formally joined the Paris climate agreement, committing themselves to a drastic reduction in emissions in order to keep the global average rise in temperatures under 2°C. Between them, the two nations are responsible for around 40% of global CO2 emissions, and their ratifying of this agreement is a significant step forward for the agreement and its goals.

Pollution and environmental effects can have a profound effect on the way that people live their lives, and the shape that a society takes. How might pollution affect your society, and what steps might your society have taken to deal with it? Continue reading

Strangers in Strange Lands

With the Olympic Games comes travel. A lot of travel. Athletes and spectators from all over the world descending on a country to which they otherwise would never have gone – and in many cases, to one which they know nothing about. Foreign customs and conventions, strange foods and diseases, and many opportunities for misunderstandings and misadventure.

The Olympics is often also an interesting time for authoritarian regimes like Eritrea, with a number of athletes and officials taking the opportunity to defect (and in related news, this week sees the defection of North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK). With travel and exploration such a big part of much genre fiction, this is a great opportunity to examine what happens when people from one culture go to visit another. Continue reading

Ceremony and Tradition

With the beginning of the Rio Olympics dominating the news around the world, the sports themselves can often take a back seat to the pomp and circumstance. Each host nation uses the beginning of the Olympics to proudly display something about themselves to the world, in a celebration of culture and history, full of symbolism which can sometimes be arcane and opaque to outsiders (who can forget US viewers utter confusion at the NHS tribute and mistaking Isambard Kingdom Brunel for Abraham Lincoln back in 2012?). The traditions of the Olympics themselves are just as prominent, from the Parade of Nations and the Olympic Flame to the Olympic Torch relay (which we’ll all conveniently forget was devised by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin games).

These kinds of ceremonies and traditions can add colour and culture to your fictional setting, imbuing a civilisation with a sense of history, belief and custom, and avoiding a dry, functional portrayal. What do your people celebrate, and what do their traditions say about them? Continue reading

Generational Divides

Since I’ve already written about political unions in the past, the inescapable news that the UK has narrowly voted for “Brexit”, the UK’s exit from the European Union, would seem to have me stuck retreading ground and discussing the same thing all over again, only with a slightly gloomier outlook.

However, one of the interesting things to emerge post-referendum is the demographics of those who voted; broadly speaking, the young were most likely to vote remain, and the old were most likely to vote to leave. This shows a huge divide between the generations in our society – might your fictional society have a similar divide? Continue reading

Privacy

Over in the US, the Supreme Court has just approved a law change that will allow the US Government greater powers to hack and access computers and phones both in the US and abroad, something which could have huge implications for privacy. Simultaneously, new rules are being proposed which may give citizens greater control over what information is collected by service providers.

This is part of a wider discussion about privacy which has continued for decades, from the USSR’s use of informants to the UK’s “snoopers charter“. Where does a right to privacy end, and other concerns – such as security or stability – become more important? Continue reading

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