Predicting the Future 1 Comment

Predicting the Future

Sci-fi isn’t just writing with robots, but rather the art of predicting the future through fiction. It functions as a way of reflecting current society while speculating on the future(s) in which we may live.

Initial observations can come simply from seeing the latest ‘exploding future’ movie that’s out, Looper.

While the complexities of time travel are not worth going into (a sentiment shared by Bruce Willis’ character, who exclaims, “I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day”) it’s often the more subtle points that give us something to look at. There are solar panels on every car, the disparity between rich and poor has continued to grow, and even telekinesis where “everyone thought we were gonna get superheroes, but it turns out, this was it. Now it’s just a bunch of assholes who think they’re blowing your mind floating quarters.”

Observations of the future, or what the future holds, can be really useful as a way of working out where we are now in the author’s imagined timeline – and what further possibilities the world holds. Look for example at the cloning and foetal alterations of Brave New World, or the extreme surveillance of A Scanner Darkly. These predictions may not turn out to be 100% accurate, but the fact that there are already elements of both in our world today gives the writers much credibility.

The best part is that there are already astounding things happening right now and that if you are aware of them, your writing will be even more amazing.

To give you a taste of what the present is like:

  • Fibre-optic cables that we have currently in labs are able to transport “26 terabits per second, enough to send the content of the entire internet in less than a minute.” (Technology That Will Change The World, Santen)
  • We already have robot butlers and a robot soccer championship.
  • And we’re even working on hoverbikes.

But it is important – even with all this amazing stuff – that you are aware of how to create a believable future. From reading science fiction (through Voiceworks submissions and elsewhere) I’ve realised that one of the most important elements is believability. What you’re writing about, however far-fetched, has to at least seem possible. You also have to be careful that the science fiction elements aren’t there as a gimmick.

Some sci-fi (especially more recent movie adaptations) seem to use the future as an excuse to have fancier guns or bigger explosions. Your writing has to show that the science fiction elements are as integral to the story as any other part of the setting would be.

Voiceworks is open to submissions from all genres, but I for one would love some more beautiful prescient fiction.

By Rafael SW

Submissions to the next issue of Voiceworks ‘Thing’  close early January. For more information click here.

Rafael SW is an EdCommer who studies Creative Writing at RMIT and is one of the founding members of Dead Poets’ Fight Club. He writes every single day and has been published in VoiceworksEx Calamus and Dotdotdash. He also competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games. Find more at

  • Clayton

    As someone who aspires to write science fiction this is very handy. Thx.

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