This is a series on writing futuristic fiction, research in pursuit of facts, and questions asked to make ‘predictions’ as accurate as possible. A novelist and short story writer, I always start tales with characters, since character-driven stories best present the narrative. Most stories 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? Who benefits from any given political, social, commercial or philosophical situation?
Obviously, in dealing with future events, we need to examine many different topics. I’ve produced a list of 100 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 a story. It’s such a long list, I decided to deal with them in alphabetical order.
This second post looks at ‘Activism’.
What influences activism, what are the causes, why do some protest and others comply or remain silent? Just some questions a writer needs to consider when including such activity in a piece of future fiction.
We all know social and main-stream media have encouraged, censored, exaggerated, questioned, and promoted activism recently. We realize there have been government attempts to rein in some of the extreme instances of such online activity. In some countries, China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, come to mind, all forms of protest are cynically manipulated by politicians frightened by any perceived threat to their power. Will such behaviour survive the inevitable changes in the online life? It’s clear advances in technology will make it easier for people to bypass attempts to deprive them of information, and will take forms that deny access by the authorities. When the population is better informed, will protest increase in authoritarian states? And what will be the result?
Will more people be inclined to take risks in the name of issues they hold dear? Mass gatherings, sabotage, violent rebellion, nude protests, food strikes, flash-mobs, are among the tactics already used. Will future communication systems increase these methods of activism?
Will the probability of enhanced protective body armour and other similar personal defence systems embolden people and allow them to take more extreme action? Alternatively, will regimes be more prepared to punish, even eliminate, protestors? Will youth return to the days of the 1960s when students frequently fought for social injustice?
Currently, we’re seeing protests about the Climate Emergency, Racial Inequality, Pollution in its many forms, and many other aspects of life perceived as unfair. In the near, mid, far future, what will people protest about? Perhaps, bullying mega-states, corrupt mega-corporations, inequalities of food and water supply, misinformation spread through religion?
I seed these considerations hoping they’ll stimulate imagination when tackling this topic in fiction. And I remind writers that many aspects of the future will inevitably impact on protest; so much in life is interconnected and this quality is likely to increase as time passes.
So, in what ways do you see activism developing in ten, a hundred, a thousand years?