Rhobin Courtright’s topic for her fellow bloggers is “How can contemporary fiction cope with the rapid changes of today’s world?”
Last century, this was no problem. While life has always been full of surprises, at least there was an illusion of predictability. We were Bertrand Russell’s chicken.
You don’t know the story?
Every morning, the farmer came with a bucket of food. So, the chicken learned to welcome the sound of his footsteps, and eagerly came running. Then, one morning, the farmer came bearing an axe instead…
When the rate of change was relatively slow, we could write fiction set in the real world, and expect it to stay reasonably appropriate for years. But now, if we include current affairs, something presently believable could be as dated as, say, Macbeth in a few years, or even a few months. Just think, in December, 2019, no one thought a war between the USA and Iran to be all that threatening. Then Trump had to assassinate a person, supposedly to prevent war. The result is an escalation of tensions as I write, and by the time this essay is published, we may again have thousands dying and suffering for no reason but to pander to one person’s ego.
I have tried to cope with the volatility of the present in several ways. One was to write historical fiction. Guardian Angel is set in the 19th century, which is not at all changeable. That’s why I returned to it after a long gap, and finished it. That activity provided relief from presentitis.
Hit and Run is set in 2015, but doesn’t read like ancient history, because it ignores politics and other things you might see on your TV (if you have one — I’ve liberated myself from that monster since 1975).
A short story that was last month’s Rhobin’s Round assignment is Labels. I enjoyed writing it, and the comments have been complimentary, so if you haven’t read it, please do now. That’s set today, but, like Hit and Run, it is basically independent of current affairs.
This was not possible for the Doom Healer series, because environmental catastrophe, politics and other current affairs are integral to the plot. Here is my solution, after advice from several of my friends. I am still open to feedback.
Right. I am giving you a magic wand loaded with one wish. The wish cannot be selfish. Please record below how you are going to change reality, then visit my fellow bloggers:
Rhobin L Courtright