Archive for robert heinlein

Prophet Margins: Predictions 2025

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 19, 2011 by theclockworm

As we all know, becoming a SF writer means predicting the future. Now, don’t get me wrong; I know that’s not what we actually do. But there are always going to be folks who think otherwise, and they’ll always be there to demand prophecies of us. We’ll bicker and defend and elude, but in the end, we’ll give them a list and hope the universe does something both self-serving and ironic with the information.

I’ve decided to jump the gun. Why wait until I’m published? Here, with tongue planted more or less firmly in cheek, are my predictions for the year…TWO THOUSAND TWENTY-FIVE.

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1. In the wake of the fallout from the First Mormon-Scientologist War, a new religious sect will emerge. Following the teachings of Robert Heinlein, they will practice a rugged brand of survivalism, solving social conflict through handgun-brandishing. Though they will preserve the institution of marriage, they will permit polygamy in all forms, as well as conducting themselves in a generally permissive manner sexually. They will practice a form of eugenics based on the society in Heinlein’s books; the long-term results will never be known, as a tragic explosion on their hand-built spacecraft will kill them all.

2. The Occupy movement of the 2010s eventually becomes totally ubiquitous. Out of public spaces in which to make a stand, people begin to occupy their own houses, making it very difficult for authorities to determine who is involved. Presidential candidate Bristol Palin concludes that Anonymous must be growing, perhaps bolstered by their victory in the war. However, she is unable to continue her campaign when she is reminded that the office of the president no longer exists.

3. As genetic re-programming becomes affordable and safe, a whole new lifestyle/art movement will arise. Combining performance art, cosplay, and socio-political activism, genomorphic groups will recreate various fictional worlds and stories, with varying degrees of success and commitment. Of special interest will be the Gethenians, a group of people who choose to adopt the un-gendered state described in Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Left Hand of Darkness. They will buy up land in Alaska, utilize the systems of time and culture described in the book, and attempt to eradicate non-Gethenian ideals. Ignored initially, they will be the focus of much media attention when a break-off sect of evangelicals, the Neuter the Earth movement, begin re-infiltrating the mainland.

4. The most popular of the genomorphic groups will be the Vulcans. Recognizing that Vulcanism is a practicable, attainable state, this group will spread over much of the globe, extending far beyond Star Trek fans. By suppressing certain mental functions, Vulcans will be able to control their emotions to a degree unavailable to un-morphed humans. The cosmetic differences will be considered comparatively minor, and will be shunned altogether by some. Many non-religious Jews will join the movement, as it offers a focus on tradition, contemplation, and ritual without religiousness.

5. The majority of divorce papers filed will cite Dream Linking as a major factor. The practice, which will allow two or more people to “meet” in a non-corporeal world, will allow for an explosion in infidelity. The state will involve full nervous system arousal, making it experientially equivalent to sex, but it will be difficult to trace, often anonymous, and will not carry the risk of disease or pregnancy. The birth-rate will drop for the first time in years after the service hits the market.

6. While searching for survivors from the war, workers will discover the secret underground lair of what will become known as the Cabal of Child Actors. A secret society of supposedly inactive, drug-addled, or dead child stars, the CCA will be suspected of controlling everything from the banking system to the military. Haley Joel Osment, having ousted the ruling duo of Coreys Haim and Feldman, will warn officials “We are your Dennis the Menaces. We are your Kevin Arnolds. We bring your rom-com leads together, and turn Hugh Grant into a nice guy. We see dead people – ALL THE TIME. We are your Malcolms, in the middle and otherwise. Do not fuck with us.”

7. In a coup unrecognized until much later, a heavily-bearded Wil Wheaton will single-handedly dismantle the CCA, saving the entire ship. I mean world.

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Thanks to io9 for the idea about Vulcanism. Thanks to Wil Wheaton for saving the entire ship. I mean world.

The Golden Age of SF is However Old You Are When You Die In An Alien Invasion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2011 by theclockworm

The columns of light striking the soil informed him of his condition. He was inside a SF story. Obviously.

His room appeared no different than it had before; the bed he woke up in, from which vantage point he witnessed this impossibility of aggression, was comfortable and worn and sagged near the center where he tended to resolve in his nightly rotations. But however familiar the setting seemed, he knew it could not be real, that this was no longer his real life – if indeed he had ever had one. In real life, green shafts of unknown energy did not smash into fields and streams, sending floods of muddy frog-water and whole stalks of corn careening through the morning sky. In the real world, one could not sense the fissuring of the crust below through the foundations of a house, the disconnection of plate from plate as the earth itself buckled. Since these things did not happen in the real world, this must not be the real world.

Assuming he had entered a fictional universe, some very basic questions begged an answer. First, what sort of story was it? SF isn’t without its own inner lines of demarcation, after all. Looking around, he set about trying to determine the parameters of his condition. Maybe if he could guess whose story he was in, he could figure out his role, a way to survive.

He narrowed his view, tried to look beyond the obvious. After all, perhaps this was a pastiche inside a dream or on a television show, itself occupying a less Golden Age-type tale. Maybe he should start small, think creatively. What criteria could he use? He looked away from the window, from the glaring blaze of heat-death; from the walls, blank and simple, devoid of clue or genre marker; past the empty nightstand, the mundane closet, the boring things strewn and hung here and there. Looking down, he saw the bed. Ah ha.

A writer would start here, and so he, being written, started here. Whose bed could this be?

He recalled the massive, luxurious beds featured so prominently in the works of Robert Heinlein. These beds were central to the galaxy-wide Red-Headed League that Lazarus Long had spawned. More action took place between sheets in the typical Heinlein book than ever happened between enemies, who usually dropped after a single shot. Looking left and right, he noticed the absence of even one, let alone two, people there with him. This was not Heinlein’s bed.

Could this be Le Guin’s bed? Was this the place where brilliant scientists crashed with manic irregularity, to dream up a fiery addition to some foreign physics? Was it a strange bed on a frozen world, a friendly posh bed or a simple warm bed in the territory of doubtful allies? He checked beneath the sheets, found the familiar things; the beam hadn’t left him genderless. Looking at his arms, he found that they too retained their usual hue. The beam had not rendered him colorless and gray. Alas, this was not Ursula’s bed.

Was it William Gibson’s bed? Was it a lonely rack in a shoddy motel, where a broken and lost relic of the filthy future might be consumed by a figment of someone else’s imagination? Was it a mere cubby hole, the ultimate symbol of minimalism and badass-ness, a claustrophobic cubicle where one might be ridden by a girl with sharp claws? Well, it was a bed; that alone seemed to disqualify it. He checked about for ratty plastic interfaces, or “decks;” none were apparent. Inside the bedside table, a lack of stimulants, weapons, or eyewear of any sort. No go for Gibson.

He tried to remember a bed in the works of Philip K. Dick, but came up empty. Maybe this was reflective of the man’s life. Other than one terrifying scene of domestic paranoia involving a teenage narc, he could remember not one example. Dick seemed to steer as clear of rest in his writing as he did while writing. If this was Dick’s bed, surely it was a mere pretext, a trap-door he would soon fall through into a hell of perceptual doubt or esoteric cosmology. More likely than not, in Phil’s universe, there were no beds at all.

He scrolled through the traitorous royal chambers of Herbert, the Freud-laden psychopathic millionaire mattresses of Bester, the horribly heavy beds of Lem, newly populated by the very old. He considered the lonely corporate-funded suites of Tiptree. He came up blank.

Outside, the beams moved steadily closer to the house, sending ancient trees up into wisps of smoke and ash. Time was running out, and so were ideas. A strange thought struck him from the corner of his mind. There was a new writer, he thought, whose stories had been showing up over the past few months. He liked to play with tropes, to layer allegories, to explore transcendence and iterative identity. He was also quite fond of literalizing, and considered SF to be a dialogue, carried on by SF writers in a constant interpretive cycle. He didn’t mind sacrificing a nameless, faceless character to make a point, either. There was a bed in one of his stories, and it was filled with the copied forms of a whole history of lovers. Maybe this is his bed, he thought, the heat now palpable as the beams moved across the lawn. He couldn’t recall his name.