Saturday, July 22, 2017

Flawed futures

One thing that bothers me (or makes me laugh, depending on mood) is when all the technology in a futuristic story works perfectly. Our past technology didn't work perfectly; our present technology doesn't work perfectly; surely our future technology won't!

One reason I don't rush to completely computerize my life is the plethora of error messages, freezes, crashes, power failures, etc., that have been a regular feature of digital life. We've probably all found ourselves hollering at imperfect voice-recognition bots on the phone, trying to make them understand what we want, giving up and hitting zero in the hope of getting a live human being. I've been thwarted by voice-mail menus that told me which number to press for which problem--and found that my problem didn't fit into any of their categories.

Cars break down. Batteries die. Repair people fail to show up. Heck, even our older inventions let us down: zippers jam, radio stations get staticky, shoe heels snap.

These problems can not only lend authenticity to our stories, but they can become plot elements. I always liked the way the electric fence in The Hunger Games was usually turned off, and had a hole in it. That situation was realistic, and it gave room for the government to tighten the reins in the future. 

The world is a flawed place; even our dystopias will probably be flawed.


  1. You've made some valid points here, Jennifer. I'm afraid to put all my stories and therefore my life only on the computer or online for fear of losing everything. Every time I turn around, something's down or not working as it should. And yes, I like that little detail of life in The Hunger Games as well. Because that's how life truly is--even in fiction.

    Oh by the way, congratulations! I have nominated you and your wonderful blog to receive the Liebster Blogging Award. Please visit my Adventures in Writing blog to find the details:
    You will find your blog listed there with brief details about it and some questions to answer.

    All the best to you!

  2. The thing is having the technology break down is like having the horse balk in fantasy: it signals the hand of the author.

    1. If it's clumsily done, yes; if the timing is just too fortuitous. It shouldn't break only once at the critical moment. But regular flaws are part of the real world, and I like to see them in the fictional world also.