Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 1


This is the first of an intended series on writing futuristic fiction, and the research performed in pursuit of the facts, to make any ‘predictions’ as accurate as possible. A novelist and short story writer, I always start with characters, since character-driven stories best present any narrative. Most also have one or more themes under exploration. It’s those themes this series will investigate.

For me, the primary question is the ‘why’ of events. Why do things happen the way they do? What are the causes? And who benefits from any given situation, political, social, commercial or philosophical stance?
Obviously, in dealing with events in the future, we need to examine many different aspects of life. I’ve produced a list of 100 subjects that may impact on such a story. Not all will be fundamental to every tale, but an awareness of these topics will inform the storyteller in ways that will inevitably influence the direction of any story, so all will at least influence it. With such a long list to consider, perhaps the best method of approach is simple alphabetical order.

The list covers many themes, some of which are interrelated and some entirely isolated, but I’m starting with ‘Accommodation’.

Setting a story in the future, whether that’s five or five million years hence, needs some understanding by the author of where characters will spend their time for sleeping, relationships, leisure, exercise, work, shopping, education, and possible political activity. What will be the influence on such structures of the passing time?
Immediately, we encounter the need to think in broad terms, since many factors, social, environmental, traditional, cultural, and technical among them, will impact on future construction for such activities.

Will we continue to use family homes, multi-occupational units, barracks, hotels, theatres, cinemas, warehouses, workshops, factories… the list of speculation goes on. And there’s no clear answer. We can only guess at what the future might hold for us in terms of where we live, work, learn and find spiritual, mental, and physical health.

For the near future, the guesswork can be based on what we currently experience added to an awareness of the changes that are happening now and those we can imagine developing over the next few years.

But the distant future is so packed with unknowns that the most important factor in arriving at possibilities is the quality of the writer’s imagination. What’s your vision of our future living and working spaces?

As this series is intended as both a spur to writing future fiction and a useful resource for those who’d like to try it, I’ll include some research sources with each post.

Emerging trends in architecture.
Future architecture platform (Huge resource)
Architecture Quote.
Arch Daily.
And, for those who prefer to be shown, a YouTube resource.
Examples of my own vision of the future can be experienced in the novella, The Methuselah Strain, and the Generation Mars trilogy of novels.

9 thoughts on “Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Futuristic Fiction: #Research for #Writers, Part 4, Agriculture. – Stuart Aken

  2. I agree that imagination needs to be the driver of the story. There has to to be some suspension of disbelief.
    It can be easy to dismiss a story as unbelievable if you start to nitpick too many details. Larry Niven had to rewrite part of Ringworld because people figured out that the engineering was flawed rendering it unstable. For me, I don’t care. Build a ring, slap some rockets on it and spin, baby, spin! How does a faster than light drive work? You press that green button, duh. My head hurts if a story relies to much on the technical aspects. Probably why my stories are not technical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the contribution, Leon. I think the ‘secret’ of writing about equipment, energy sources, devices, engineering, or any technical issue where current knowledge is either uncertain or even non-existent, is to keep the story to the effects, the results of employing such things. If we stray into the technicalities, especially when writing sci-fi, we invite criticism from ‘experts’, but we also make a rod for our own backs by breaking the deal that involves the reader in suspending their disbelief. If we stick to the results/effects and leave the technical issues for the reader to determine, we are on much less unstable ground.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very well stated. I think that science fiction went from dreaming the impossible (in the early days) to writers feeling that they needed to be experts in technology in order to be accepted.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Although I dislike the idea of ‘genre’ in fiction, it’s nevertheless the case now that there are a number of different types of scifi around. ‘Hard scifi’ is the one where science definitely rules, and any writer making an error will be pounced on by the experts. I tend to mix genres anyway, so my work is less easily labelled, and, so far, I’ve managed to avoid such negative reactions to my stories. Maybe a direction worth pursuing, Leon?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. My book of science fiction and post-apocalyptic short stories (and some poetry) could be called mixed genre. I also state that my stories don’t rely on technological knowledge, but on imagination-much like the early sci-fi writers.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree that research needs to be done for technical accuracy. However, after that, I believe in the writer’s imagination taking over. If you have noticed, all the books I have written have a common theme, i.e. ‘what-if’ Even my first book on India, has this scenario. Of course, the other four books are science fiction, so I’ve let my imagination run wild when I’ve described life on other planets. However, when describing life on Earth, I tend to stick to laws of physics (or any other laws) that are ingrained in our brains.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.