Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
How soon is too soon to include a real-life event in a fictional story?
I certainly don’t want to be reminded about this year’s events for quite a while, thank you so much!! Even in fiction. Which would have to be pretty extreme to be worse than the facts.
As I don’t write contemporary stories, the problem never arises. But the question remains, in the future, events will still be shaped by what happened in the past. The dwellers in my worlds have memories and celebrations, just like we do.
So I’m going slightly off-piste, as I tend to.
In writing my futuristic adventures, and even in my alternative reality work, I come up against the problem of history and current events all the time. With the added problem that, as the future doesn’t exist (yet), I have to create it. And not just the future, I need to know the history of the future as well. So my characters have a past that they can use in their present. It’s almost like time travel, except that the present hardly features.
The really big question is this. How much of the history of the future do you need to include, either as general back story or as relevant to your characters present situation?
And how much of whatever the present situation in their worlds might be is needed for realism in your narrative?
I have a lot of backstories, it’s unavoidable, with the four or five universes that my various series are based in. Inevitably they overlap a little.
For simplicity and leaving the Steampunk aside for a moment, as it’s a bit of a special case, I’ve kept most of the main things the same. The method of trans-light travel, a lot of the capabilities of spaceships, construction materials and communications are identical across my universes. Planet names vary of course, as do time frames and political systems.
In an effort to keep track of it all, I imagined a magazine for the interplanetary age and called it Galactographic! I wanted it to be a souped-up version of National Geographic (without pictures, obviously). It currently resides in a folder on my computer, where I use it as a repository of all my back story. Everything is arranged as articles, much as NG does now. I even made a rough idea of the cover of one issue.
It’s been very useful, one day the backstories it contains might even exist as a standalone book. In its world, Ballantyne Alysom, the explorer, was the man who started it all. In fact, his family still own it centuries later.
The magazine and the Alysom family even feature in several of my novels and short stories. You can find mention of him and his times in Freefall, Survive and several of my short stories.
Back to the subject.
In my Dave Travise universe, they know all about the Holy Wars and the destruction of Brethren’s Host. It happened in living memory.
Miles Goram in the Balcom universe can celebrate Hyperspace day on Centra. It was a while ago, but so important that everyone knows when it was.
Jackson Thwaite (The Orphan Detectives) knows the history of Norlandia, which just happens to be the Horis Strongman novels. This is a neat trick; if you can do it. Readers of this one will now be encouraged to read the other books.
And there are many more examples in my books.
One of the biggest compliments I have ever had as a writer (not that there are many to choose from), came from a reader of Survive. She said, “This reads like a history of the future.”
Perhaps, one day, it will be?
As the dedication for one of my books says,
One day the future will be history, taught in schools to bored children.
I think that I almost kept to the subject this week. Well done if you managed to make it this far through my thoughts. Now let me know what you think. Then go and check out the other great blogs on his hop by clicking the purple link below.
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