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What Century Is This, Again?

January 15, 2012

Editing through an alternative opening to my science-fiction novel Angelus, I came across the pretty questionable sentence: “…but she could shake her wrist to shift the dirt off her watch, and saw that she was well into her second hour of being trapped.”

Wait, what? Her watch? It’s the 23rd century and people still think digital watches are a pretty cool accessory? People hardly wear watches now when they could just check their phone.

How did that get in there?

It’s easy with speculative fiction to spend so long thinking about the big social changes in your fictional future that little details slip through. 200 years later, and I’ve given them new countries, new religions, and new politics – but other little things are still painfully similar to life today. Sure, I think about how technology affects their space travel, but not how they listen to music or watch television.

It’s not that everything changes. Unless there’s a good plot- or setting-specific reason, people aren’t going to be going PHWOOSH HERE’S YOUR SPACE VITAMINS instead of settling down to a mixed grill, and everything doesn’t have to be agonisingly steel-and-glass-and-oh-how-modern either. We’ve been drinking tea and coffee for centuries, but how we consume it has changed – from the tea ceremonies of the ancient East to chucking the kettle on after a hard day.

In the meantime, I have no idea what to do with Ada’s watch.

Have you run into any science fiction no-no’s? Or the other way around, suddenly stumbled on more technology than you bargained for when writing a fantasy epic?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2012 6:37 pm

    Ada could still use a watch! It could be a watch in her skin (in Japan you can use your hand as a mobile – old tech now and has probably improved. Also, I have no idea how it works.), or a watch with super cyber settings that do practical things. I mean, she is in the military and watches are on a convenient place of your body for gadget access.

    You know I’m constantly overwhelmed by imagining technology. “Blue Boys” and “Scars in the System” being the main ones. If only I was an engineer or had an engineer for a boyfriend – oh wait! ;D

    • January 15, 2012 7:51 pm

      Yeah – I was thinking how they’d integrate watches – I think they’d make a comeback instead of ‘I’ll just check my tablet’ because that’s not as useful.

      If she wasn’t in the military, I’d say she wears one anyway for nostalgia.
      I like the ‘under the skin’ idea – like In Time (only, you know…it tells the actual time. And it’s smaller).

      Thank you!

  2. Sam Kearns permalink
    February 7, 2012 9:51 am

    She could still have a watch but knowing her it would double as a proximity mine or a hand grenade. Or any other weapon from N64’s Goldeneye.

    • February 7, 2012 12:19 pm

      I would love a watch that was also a hand grenade. Until I inevitably blew myself up.

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