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 Post subject: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 4:50 pm 
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Hopefully this is the right place to put this!

I'm working on books 5 and 6 in my Firmament series, and one thing that I've noticed and others have pointed out is that they aren't super sci-fi. Not entirely, anyhow. The 5th book takes place almost entirely on Earth, with Andi and August on a quest through Austria. The 6th takes place half in space and half on Earth, also with a long trek through Europe.

What I'm trying to figure out is some good ways to inject sci-fi-ness casually into the story. Things that are everyday to them, like cell phones are to us. I've done that some--adding trains that can quickly transport them between continents, cars that are essentially hovercars, etc. but I'm having a hard time really imagining much beyond what we already have.

For those who don't know, the Firmament takes place in the twenty-third century, and the technology is generally pretty analogous to Star Trek (though culturally different--there's no Federation or Starfleet or anything), it's not a utopia or dystopia--pretty much just a more futuristic version of now, essentially.

Any thoughts? Casual ways to introduce futuristic time stuff? Ideas I can bounce off of?

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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 5:33 pm 
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There are lots from sci-fi short stories. Here are some that I remember.

Telephone Transportation: Every home has a wall sized screen that you can call a location, see it, and step into the screen and be 'transported' to the other screen. In the story, the screen breaks one day and the boy can't get to school, so he has to WALK! He discovers the outdoors that no one ever visits because the just 'phone' everywhere.

Teleport Sidewalk: One square (a different color than the rest of the sidewalk) teleports you to the square immediatle adjacent to an identical square one block away. Travel is acomplished by stepping from one teleport square to the next so each 'step' transports you one block. This allows you to quickly cross the city and then just walk the last half block to your destination.

Glass House: Have you seen the video for the glass house where every surface (wall and counter and table and desk and window) is an interactive touch screen and a computer monitor. Walls are transparent or a color or display a landscape or whatever you wish and change on command. You can also start a video call on your phone and with a flick of the finger toss it to take up the whole wall. Your alarm wakes you by changing the color of the walls of your room from dark to a sunrise on the beach.

VR: Blend the real and virtual world with interactive holography on a completely encompassing level. People walk and talk on their cell phones constantly today. So what happens when more than 50% of your time is spent interactind in a 3D holographing world. Someone enters a self-driving car and states their destination before returning to the holographic meeting that they were engaged in. An oldie but goodie is the holographic advertizing that changes to become spam selected just for you ... like ISPs do now.

EVERYDAY: If you want to have fun, think of the most mundane things. Brushing your teeth in 1717 was different than an electric toothbrush in 2017, so what will brushing your teeth be like in 2317? A 1717 'bathroom' was an outhouse or a chamber pot, a 2017 toilet may contain a bidet. What will a 2317 toilet be like?

EDIT: Here is "A Day Made of Glass"


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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 6:32 pm 
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Ooh, I like those ideas. It got me thinking too--while a lot of the encounters take place in a more rural setting, rural life has even changed a lot in the past few hundred years. Would rural life be more like city life if city life advanced? Hmm...

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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 11:18 pm 
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The one technological change that leaps to my mind is Augmented Reality: "holograms," "virtual objects," etc., projected into people's view by their mobile devices, their glasses, or even some sort of brain implant. (I think this is a large part of what atpollard meant when he described "VR," but in current usage that term means a system where the user is immersed in some virtual environment, rather than one that adds elements to the real world; see Wikipedia's discussion of "VR" terminology.) It's even conceivable that the technology will advance to the point where people will be able to not only see and even "feel" virtual objects, but that, say, a virtual chair might be able to hold a person's weight.

The other idea I had was that in the elapsed centuries, the climate may have changed (is the Mediterranean region oppressively hot year-round? has a new ice age frozen the Tiber?), and the world will certainly be demographically different. Cities may be even larger and denser than they are now, but rural populations might be even sparser than currently.

Hmm: It's possible that "3D printing" will become advanced enough that many or even most items will be made "on demand" instead of being sold "off the shelf." Customized items would be much more affordable to many more people.

And so on. :)

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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 3:53 am 
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This is a fantastic thread! Excellent ideas. :D

Regarding rural life, I would expect most agriculture to be machine-ran as much as possible, so farms--while there still would be open space to some degree--would have very advanced technology, and most "farm hands" would probably actually be more "mechanics."

Also consider population increases. You will probably see an increase in "vertical" farming, hydroponics, and manufactured/lab grown food. Plus the whole GMO thing.

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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:58 pm 
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The thing about all that is that their interaction with the society on their journeys is fairly limited. They spend brief time in starports and train stations, but mostly are trekking across the wilderness and through the woods. They stop at a small farming community at one point, or at farmhouses, or rural grocery stores, etc. They don't spend extended time in civilization. So I'm wondering how I can take some of these ideas and give them fleeting glances as they go about their travels...

Or things like, if they are sleeping in a tent, what would that look like? How about hiking shoes? Trash disposal? Fire starting? How about cooking food? Hmm...

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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 1:10 am 
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Did you see the movie "UP"?

Do you remember the scene where the old man had his map and compass and was attempting to figure out where he was in the dense fog, and the 'Wilderness Ranger' just used the GPS on his cell phone to locate their exact position? Imagine that only more of it!

How about the movie "City Slickers" where he has his portable coffee grinder so he can have fresh ground coffee while 'roughing it' on the trail.

200 years ago, normal travel across most wilderness was a mule, a sack of flour and a blanket. Think of how much even 'primitive camping' (without a trailer) involves in equipment. The future will probably be more so with Rural probably closer to what we call the suburbs. Do all roads have streetlights and wide sidewalks for bike paths? Is there a data kiosk every mile to help you locate an address or summon a taxi to the train station?

A simple farm, might look more like a university agricultural department with a mainframe computer to monitor all of the automated tractors and equipment and transmitters sending data on every animal and veternary clinic like testing. Who says that the farmer just grows food. Perhaps most of the processing has moved to the farms as well with an average farm being closer to 1000 acres and a large farm being tens of thousands of acres. A farm is not a house, it is a cluster of four or five families running a large business.

There are already packages that heat or cool when you break a seal, so food could be self-cooking. I know of a company that irradiates meat for storage at room temperature. Radiation kills bacteria so it never ever spoils. So a steak dinner is a non-refrigerated foil pouch with a pull tab. Pull the tab and the package self-heats to cook the food, then just tear it open to eat steak, corn on the cob and a fresh dinner roll.

Depending on HOW advanced you want to get ... there was a story about a girl who was attended by a swarm of nano-robots that attended to her basic needs. If it started to rain, they created an umbrella to cover her. If she needed a place to sleep, they would reshape a log into a bed. Whatever she needed, they could create from whatever was around. They simply rearranged atoms to form what she needed.

Something less disruptive and more fun might be a device that was the 'swiss army knife' of future camping. Imagine an object the size of a toaster that will fit in your backpack. Then look at every camping 'gadget' in the magazines and catalogs and imagine this magic box will do everything that any of them will do. It filters water. It starts a fire. It sounds an alarm when anything approaches your camp. It grinds coffee. It predicts the weather. It includes a first aid kit. It can function as binoculars. It repels insects. It can do anything, but only one thing at a time ... like your cell phone. You can't take pictures while you talk. It is a camera OR a phone OR surfs the web.


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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 5:18 am 
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J. Grace Pennington wrote:
The thing about all that is that their interaction with the society on their journeys is fairly limited. They spend brief time in starports and train stations, but mostly are trekking across the wilderness and through the woods. They stop at a small farming community at one point, or at farmhouses, or rural grocery stores, etc. They don't spend extended time in civilization. So I'm wondering how I can take some of these ideas and give them fleeting glances as they go about their travels...


This gets back to the point I briefly touched on about population density: if current migration trends continue for two more centuries, any of those rural pockets of civilization will be much, much rarer than they are today.

That reminds me, however, of something that I've seen in other SF where some technological change in the past rendered current forms of transportation obsolete (one writer had "displacement booths" that instantly teleported people or goods between two points, while another had a totalitarian one-world-government that controlled movement between regions and installed supersonic bullet trains for the movement it did encourage): modern "highways," while no longer used or usable for vehicular traffic, would still be useful paths for traveling on foot, because they had been landscaped to avoid steep slopes, making them an easier path to hike, and they would also be an easier path to follow because plants would have found the layers upon layers of asphalt, concrete, etc., more difficult to reclaim to wilderness than the surrounding fields. On the other hand, if your characters aren't from Earth originally and have any ignorance of Earth history, they might be surprised by how easy a part of a trip that calls for walking along an "ancient" road gets, or how difficult their trip gets when they have to leave such a path.

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Originally inspired to write by reading C.S. Lewis, but can be as perfectionist as Tolkien or as obscure as Charles Williams.

Author of A Year in Verse, a self-published illustrated collection of poetry: available in paperback and on Kindle.

My blog includes the following "departments":
  • Background on the Shine Cycle, my planned fantasy series, spanning over two centuries of an imagined world's history, several universes (including various alternate histories and our own future), and the stories of dozens of characters (many from our world).
  • Strategic Primer, a strategy game I'm developing, played by email, assisted by programs I'm developing. The current campaign (moving slowly, less than one turn a month) always needs more players.
  • My poetry.
  • Miscellaneous essays.


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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 10:50 pm 
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Fascinating. I am bookmarking this thread.

In my thoughts, the same way food/nourishment is becoming increasingly fake on this planet, in this era, perhaps in the future, or on other worlds, the idea that buildings (nutrition fabrication plants) create what is eaten on ships or around the world, cause for no need of farms or rural areas. Any needed vegetation could feasibly be grown within the manufacturing buildings to save on costs.

Rural areas would then cease to be useful to anyone but city developers and wild creature life that cannot dwell within cities.

Say a farm is intentionally kept for organically grown meals. At this, I think the technologies mentioned would be absolutely utilized.

I insert here that I know I'm new, and perhaps added nothing to the conversation. I apologize if that is the case. This thread just knotted my noodle. So fun. Thank you. :)

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 Post subject: Re: General Peripheral Technology
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 4:24 pm 
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Love all these ideas. I'm going to start editing on the book that takes place almost completely on Earth in a few days and I'm actually getting excited about adding in some of this, rather than dreading it (as I was before). I love bouncing ideas around with peoples. :D

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