Science Fiction is Hard

So, I’ve started my space dinosaur story, and in general things are going well, but I’ve discovered I was underprepared in some aspects.

Yes, I had the history of the world between now and the start of the book, had thought through cultural changes, set up a military-run organization, populated my ship with officers, gave them stuff to do, but I forgot a key aspect of science fiction.

The technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I did plan out some of it. I did research on possible interstellar forms of travel and designed an engine that could, theoretically at least, allow a ship to travel faster than the speed of light. I figured out the purpose of my ship, which inspired its overall design.

What I didn’t think about was day to day technology. And that became an issue almost immediately. How did the officers receive messages from home? How did the doors work? If someone wanted to search the computer for something, what was the process?

A lot of space adventure scifi gets away with a lower form of technology–computer screens, metal doors, projectile weapons–but it feels weird to go that way, when we have voice-activated computer controls and pocket computers and doors that open automatically at every single supermarket ever now. And yes, I have a traumatic event between now and then, something that more or less destroyed much of human civilization, but it still feels weird to think that that we wouldn’t have any progress between now and then, even with a major disruption.

So this is my hangup. I can tell you how the ship works overall, but I’m a little unsure about the rest of it. Are things digital, virtual? Or have we gone back to analog? Is there any conceivable reason to go back to analog?

It’s always the little things that get you in the end.

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One response to this post.

  1. I believe, canonically, the explanation for the technology disparity between Enterprise and the first season of Star Trek is that Starfleet felt touch screens and such were unreliable in combat situations, and so for a while they switched back to buttons and analog controls for their ships, before returning to them by the time of Next Generation.

    Reply

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