It refuses to stay still!

Our round robin topic for February, 2023 is “How can contemporary fiction keep up with our swiftly changing world, politically, socially or technically?”

When I was young, like in 700 BCE, there was a steady state. In a particular location, with its particular culture, most things were predictable, with occasional upsets like an invasion or a drought. When writing about that time, I could focus in on the events that caused change, and this allowed progression. For example, a little fellow travelled around for ten years and brought back a great deal of knowledge that allowed him to end a war.

Try doing that now! In ten years, everything will be different. Compare 2013 with 2023. A few random developments:

  • The climate catastrophe is no longer in the near future, but has struck, hard.
  • Renewable energy has taken off and is changing most things people do.
  • A global pandemic has caused huge social and cultural changes.
  • Britain has left the European Union, with various global effects.
  • Donald Trump has come and gone as American president, and had a good go at starting the second American Civil War.
  • The Ukrainian war would have been inconceivable in 2013.
  • An emerging fun development is the growing abilities of artificial intelligence. Our mechanical slaves are threatening to become our masters.

How can writers of contemporary fiction cope? Here are a few tricks I have used.

Pin it

Ascending Spiral includes explicit mention of particular time period. Things like technology are correct for then.

The very first line is, “In 2008, a young woman came to me as a victim of crime.”

Fudge it

Who says you have to describe things with laser-like precision? Since politics is not relevant to Hit and Run, it doesn’t get a mention.

Change it

A novel is fiction. Get it? It is the author’s invention. Some of the short stories in Striking Back from Down Under describe technology that, as far as I know, hasn’t been invented. No one has complained about the painting software and hardware the handicapped hero of the lead story, Cruelty and Compassion, uses to make his wonderful paintings.

Similarly, Sleeper, Awake requires technology in our times that converts a human into a revivable block of ice. If such a process is available, no one has told me about it (except for Flora Fielding, the hero and narrator of the book).

Are there other ways of coping? You and I may be able to learn a few tricks by visiting the other round robiners below:

Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
This entry was posted in Rhobin's round robin, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to It refuses to stay still!

  1. Victoria Chatham says:

    Pin it, Fudge it, Change it! Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Bob. I love your Pin It, Fudge It, Change It strategies, and also your list of just some of the changes in just the past 10 years. It really does stop and make you think to see them listed out like that. Who knows what the next 10 years will bring?
    Thanks very much for setting us this topic. It’s brought a fascinating range of answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Helena.
      The next ten years? According to the IPCC, we have less than that to save all complex life on this little blue jewel. So, we’d better get cracking!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, ten years ago we thought climate change was a long way off. It’s very frightening to think of what might happen in another ten years.


        • Dr Bob Rich says:

          That’s why I use the tools of Buddhist psychology to stay sane. Mind you, all the great philosophies and religions tell us to do our best without worrying about outcome.
          Only two things matter in life. What we take with us when we die, and what we leave behind in the hearts of others.
          And it’s important to have a few laughs while we are doing it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Skye-writer says:

    Like your Pin it, Fudge it, Change it summary. All good strategies. As for the nearly started American second civil war, Trump, as offensive as he is, is just the face of the issue. The whole WOKE theology has offended at least half the country and eventually we will revolt.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Skye.
      Scratch any issue, and about half of Americans are against it, right?
      Reminds me of the old joke: put 6 biblical scholars in the one room, and you get 12 opinions on every matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Skye-writer says:

        It wasn’t always this divisive in the US. I’ve watched over the years as the whole idea of civil debate has died an agonizing death while pitting one side against the other has become the norm. Working across the aisle in congress used to be common – now it would be a miracle.


        • Dr Bob Rich says:

          My explanation is “Follow the money.” Greed rules, so if divisiveness leads to profit, it happens. And it does. But basic human nature is generous rather than greedy. All we need to do is to return to it.


  4. Another excellent post, Bob. Pin It, Fudge It, Change It may become my mantra… Anne

    Liked by 1 person

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