on Fiction University:
One of science fiction’s strengths is showing future possibilities and what life might be like in them.
There was a time wherein cellphones were getting steadily smaller, from the brick-sized majesty of the Motorola DynaTac (1983) to the Mobira Cityman (1987) to 1989’s Motorola MicroTac (about the size of a pack of chalkboard eraser) to the rugged Nokias of the ’90s and early Naughts. There was even a joke about the trend in the movie Zoolander (2001), and sci-fi writers were racing ahead with ideas about how small phones could go. Subdermal skull implants with antennas grown like coral along your spine? Sure!
The trend shattered in 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone, and today’s model can barely fit in your pocket much less under your skin. Take heart, soothsayers! Not even the dreamers at Star Trek, a group that ostensibly predicted the flip phone got it right. Tricorders, PADDs (Personal Access Display Device), and communicators have ever been separate devices, future design choices ignored by the wizards at Apple who insisted on merging them in reality.
Writing the future ain’t easy. It’s a moving target, and getting an idea on the page and in front of an audience before it comes true is increasingly difficult. I’ve lost track of the things I needed to delete or change in my latest book, Twenty-Five to Life, which I started writing in the heady days of 2010. There are doubtless many ways of prognosticating – Tarot, Magic 8-Ball, Phone a Pal – but I stole the one that works best for me from a discipline called ‘futurism.’