Absent Earth, Absent Mind

(Photo by SqueakyMarmot

Last year, I stumbled over the link for the William Ledbetter Contest. Calling for stories showing the near-future of space-exploration, it has a handy little prize package and some lovely judges.

I didn’t even bookmark the link. I Tweeted it, for any SF authors, and chucked it over my shoulder.

Why? Well, I’ve never written a single story that involved space in any more depth than ‘hey, pretty stars!’. SF isn’t my thing. I like reading it, I’ll write it solidly bound to earth, but space exploration? In the NEAR future?


Except…I drove to work one day, and my idle mind started piecing together a near-future society. Given that we seem to be accelerating down the road of progress, it wasn’t hard to imagine that the earth in 60 years might be very, very different.

I had a culture. A setting. Brilliant details. I’d even decided what the art of that period would be called.

Well, maybe I should do this thing. Who needs a plot?

This was a couple of weeks ago. Usually stuff fades a bit. No, instead, I spent half of my day researching plausible plagues, human population in 2100, etc.

By 4pm, I had an entire future plotted out.

1.) A cluster-f*** of events hits the world: multiple natural disasters spawning massive instability spawning massive wars spawning a debilitating plague.

2.) With the world in chaos, crime is, well, decriminalized. It’s ok to murder people and stuff now. But crimes of the mind? That’s the last sacred thing there is! So the mind becomes the real battleground.

3.) Dictatorships take over. Women seize much of the power in the few cities left. Dismantling the old, plague-ridden cities, each continent develops 1-4 massive cities. The rest of the world returns to nature, or wasteland.

4.) Small colonies were built in the space between Earth and the Moon before the major catastrophes on earth. The discovery enabling this? An atmosphere/gravity generator, small and portable enough to be used by a community. On the back of this machine, Terra Absentia was built, and survived the end of modern civilization.

That is just about HALF of what I got today. There’s a ton more. I already have the plot for a truly horrific novel or three to take place within the End-Years, and several after that. I just need a plot for the immediate story, which is due in, um, March.


Google History: plague. plagues that would wipe out humanity. population in 2100. symptoms of plague. etc.


2 Responses to “Absent Earth, Absent Mind”

  1. Heh, sounds like you have a lot of research on the world, so now you just have to find that single instant within the new order of things which sings for your short. Should be interesting. Good luck!

  2. Interesting.
    I’ve got notes for a similar type of story – I have a lot to work out though.
    I like the idea of a near-future Earth where a disaster or series of disasters have changed society and humanity as we currently know it.
    There are so many of these type of stories/movies (we, as human beings see to be fascinated by such a scenario!) that the trick is to find a hook.
    I believe I’ve got my hook for my story – got to schedule it it for writing now.



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