I grew up reading science fiction, inspired by my father’s love of the genre and my own burning fascination with other planets. I couldn’t wait for commercial space travel (Hello 2001 A Space Oydessy), convenient time travel (even if it required a DeLorean), and, yes, Jetson style flying cars. The future looked good!
As I aged and my tastes matured, I wandered into the darker corners of the speculative fiction world. First contact stories ranged from the benign E.T. to the terrifying Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Artificial intelligence helped the human race (I, Robot) or destroyed it (Terminator movies.)
An odd thing occurred to me this morning. If you live long enough (and I have) you are going to eventually end up living in a science fiction novel. You just don’t get to choose which one.
Ah, it could have been cloning (Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.) Or we could have spontaneously developed telepathy (More Than Human.) It could have been an ecological disaster. (Actually, it still might be.) There were so many options.
Which one did we get?
The global pandemic one. Sheeesh. It would not have been my first choice.
The nice thing about novels is all the boring stuff happens fast or behind the scenes. Most time is taken up by people doing something about the situation. There is a nice story arc, and whether all ends well, or a few key heroes survive, or we all get wiped out — something happens.
The problem with living through the real-life version is that it is incredibly slow and confusing and no one has much faith anything is changing. It’s not nearly as exciting to live in a time of crisis as one would think.
But here we are, each writing our own story every day. It’s no action-packed thriller, that’s for sure, and we have to face the fact that months may get condensed into a single sentence.
“She ate a disgusting number of cookies for dinner each night.”
But there will be an end, because the only thing we can count on is change, even when it is slow and we don’t see it coming.
Get ready for the next book in the series. The possibilities are endless.
(Yes, the title of this post was inspired by “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” and I recommend the novel. It will give you something new to do while you eat those cookies for dinner. You might also want to check out this year’s Nebula-award-winning best novel “A Song for a New Day,” about a culture designed to survive an onslaught of new viruses. It was written just before covid-19 hit.)