Sunday, December 21, 2003
Yesterday, I wrote 1,251 words on "The Dry Salvages." Still, no end to Part Two. Surely, it will come today. I want this to be a very good story, and a very good science-fiction story, but I'm beginning to believe that "forecasting the future" is a fool's errand. Fun, yes, when it's not maddening, but I can't possibly believe that I have even half the expertise in science, history, technology, etc. to begin to divine the world as it may be 248 years hence. I am trying, but I can see how inadequate I am to the task. And, I suspect, most others would be likewise. There's just too much chaos. Too many unforseeables. I'm trying to second-guess cultural and technological progress by measuring the degree of change over that past 248 years. That seems reasonable, with the caveat that these changes seem to be accelerating (the rate of change between 1800 and 1900 appears less than the rate of change between 1900 and 2000, and so on). How will people speak? Will language evolve to the degree that it has in the last two and half centuries? If so, then I'm entirely off base. Were I to correct for such a massive lingustic shift, the story might well be unreadable (or at least very hard). You'd need a 2251 dictionary (at least, a dictionary for this story's 2251 - and actually, the present of the story is more like 2303, with the character recalling events from 2251 and earlier) just to read the damned thing! Too many questions. What will computers be like? Will they even be recognizable as computers? What forms will world governments have taken? And so on, ad nauseum. The forecasting tries to get in the way of the actual writing, which is likely one reason that so much science fiction is dry and unreadable. The central focus has to remain the characters, not the "facts" of the future.
Yesterday, when I should have been worrying about syntax and characterization, I was reading "The evolution of the Martian hydrosphere and its implications for the fate of a primordial ocean," which I'd downloaded from a NASA site. It's like that, writing this story. And, yet, I still want to write science fiction. I need a team of researchers, I think.
I wanted to return to the subject of first-person narratives and the problems thereof, but this post is getting long, the day is getting late, and I need to write. I'll come back to it, maybe tomorrow, as I feel I did not speak very clearly on the subject yestersay. I think the better stories of H. P. Lovecraft can serve as a good example of the pitfalls facing an author wedded to this voice, and I'll use several of HPL's stories (stories I adore, mind you), to demonstrate what not to do.
Last night, Spooky and I had dinner at The Angel in Decatur, a nice little pub (if one can truly say that Georgia has pubs). Very good food. I didn't drink nearly as much as I wanted to. Back home, I read Eliot's "The Dry Salvages" aloud to her. I sometimes think this poem is superior to The Waste Land. Then we kicked each other's asses in War of the Monsters.
The weather is bitterly cold (for Atlanta) and I'd give almost anything for a week of summer.
P.S. -- My grateful thanks to everyone bidding in our eBay auctions!