Monday, May 20, 2019

5 Science Fiction Books That Predicted the Future

Science fiction has always been a genre of brilliant ideas. In many cases, the fantastical creations you’ll find in sci-fi are parables and metaphors for modern-day struggles: the androids in Blade Runner draw obvious parallels to race relations in America, the Klingons in Star Trek are a proxy for the Cold War-era Red Menace.

But sci-fi isn't just a reflection of our present — it's also a way for authors to exercise their imaginations in terms of how we might be living in the future. In this post, we’ll look at five predictions from classic science fiction books that have since become… science fact!

From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Florida Moon Missions

One of speculative fiction’s greatest innovators, Jules Verne still got a lot wrong about space travel in his 1965 novel, From the Earth to the Moon. For one, he imagined that a giant cannon could shoot a bullet-shaped capsule into orbit and beyond — a process that would have turned its passengers into compressed corpses.

One detail that Verne did manage to predict with eerie accuracy, however, is that the launches would take place from Central Florida. In the book, the Columbiad space gun is built on a hill in Tampa— a mere hundred miles away from Cape Canaveral, where NASA would stage the majority of its launches a century later.

But why Florida? Despite the fact that the Sunshine State is subject to some of the most mercurial weather conditions in America, its geography presents two major benefits. It’s close to the Atlantic, for one: multi-stage rockets are able to jettison parts safely into the ocean (and in the event of a disaster, civilian lives would not be at risk). Also, due to its proximity to the equator, launches receive an additional speed boost thanks to the rotation of the Earth. Hooray, science!

Brave New World (1931), The Antidepressant Epidemic

In Aldous Huxley’s all-time classic of science fiction, citizens of the World State are kept docile with the help of a mood-enhancing drug called Soma. At the time when the book was published, pharmaceutical solutions to psychological issues were pretty primitive — opiates and amphetamines were unnervingly seen as a panacea. There was no way for Huxley to have known just how prevalent antidepressants would become by the end of the century, yet his hunch most certainly turned out to be right.

Seeing how the media (rightfully) focuses most of its attention on the opioid epidemic in North America, you might be staggered to learn that over 11% of American use antidepressants. This is according to a CDC report that’s almost ten years old — and you can bet that number has increased in the years since. In many parts of the world, antidepressants from human urine have made their way into natural waterways at such a level that that fish have become less alarmed by predators. A brave new world, indeed...

Neuromancer (1984), The Internet

“A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”

This is how William Gibson describes PAX, the global computer network at the center of his seminal novel, Neuromancer. Five years before Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, Gibson presented a stark vision of how online information would be shared, experienced and exploited. The story follows Case, a washed-up hacker who’s hired to break into a major corporation — a plot that has influenced any film where a teen in a hoodie hunches over a keyboard with a flurry of fingers before barking, “I’m in!”

What was once weird and fantastical has now almost come to fruition in 2019 — with the exception that we don’t talk about ‘jacking in’ to cyberspace, thank God.

Looking Backward (1888), Credit Cards

Da-da-da-da-da-da! Charge it!

Diner’s Club first popularised the idea of the credit card back in the early 50s, but the term itself was introduced a lot earlier. Edward Bellamy’s Looking Back imagines a socialist utopia of the future (in the year 2000!) in which those with harder jobs work fewer hours and all citizens are given ‘credit cards’ loaded with an equal split of the economy’s spoils.

Of course, you may have already gathered that these ‘credit’ cards function more like debit cards. It would, after all, not be a utopia if citizens were able to rack up debt with exorbitant interest rates and live in fear of losing their homes. But still: the concept stands today.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1939), Mass Surveillance

We couldn’t finish off this little list (list-ette?) without mentioning the granddaddy of sci-fi prognostication. The fact that “Orwellian” is a standard adjective for mass surveillance should give you some idea of how influential Nineteen Eighty-Four has been.

In the novel, a citizen’s every movement is observed by omnipresent “telescreens” under the guise of national security. As a result, an atmosphere of paranoia hangs over the people of Oceana: is Big Brother watching? And does he know what we are thinking?

In 2019, Big Brother has taken on many forms. Sometimes, he appears as the CCTV networks that criss-cross most major cities. Though, more often than not, he manifests as a multinational corporation that makes prestige television or allows our old classmates to share their incendiary opinions.

Martin Cavannagh is a staff writer for Reedsy, a marketplace connecting authors with the best freelance editors, designers and book marketers. Find Martin on Twitter.

Monday, May 13, 2019

#IWSG - Unlocking Writer's Block

Photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash
Writer's block is real. Too many people have experienced it to say it doesn't exist. However, even though there may be many reasons for it, it can be overcome.

Many writers feel that we can slump or run into slow times, but they don't believe in writer's block. They advise that you stop thinking and let the creative side take over.
Just write, even if it stinks at first.
There's always a rewrite. 

 For some it's actually serious – a massive, soul-sucking obstacle. This could stem from the constant drive to be productive and the thought that if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you. Sometimes you just don’t have anything to say, and that’s fine. 

If you are blocked, have you considered that you may be going the wrong way, your brain is fried, or because you weren't in the mental space to write just then? Learn to think about it not as a block but more of a hurdle. 

If we look at it from yet another perspective - are you saying you didn't have a single possible idea for what might happen next, or are you saying you couldn't think of the idea that was suitable enough for you to put it on paper? Looked at in this way, a block is absence of possibility.
On a positive and final note, maybe we need to see writer's block as a sort of siesta... or a catnap... or a snooze. Sounds quite pleasant, doesn't it? It's the mind taking a quick break as it tries to change the subject for a moment. 

So you choose - hurdle, absence of possibility or siesta?

I kind of like the idea of viewing it as a siesta, which leads to a recharge of your mental batteries allowing the ideas to flow freely once again.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Book Promotion: 5 Tips for Authors on Using Social Media

Writing the book might be one of the most demanding and difficult parts of being an author, but spreading the word about it is another part that will require some attention.

Social media gives its users the power to connect with others who have similar interests. An author can greatly benefit from this, as they can easily have access to thousands of people who will potentially be interested in the genre of the book. Here are some tips to help you promote your book on social media without much trouble.

1. Focus on the quality of your promotional content

The very first thing you should focus on if you wish to attract more potential followers and spread the word about your new or upcoming book is to make sure that the promotional content you create and promote is of the best quality.

While interacting with your fans is important, it is not the only thing you should be focusing on. Your promotional content might be in the form of a picture, a video or simple written text. Any of these things need enough preparation and knowledge from your part and it is not impossible for an author to find it difficult to write promotional-type text.

2. Host a giveaway for your book

Giveaways are a great way for you to get more people to see your new book and also follow your social media pages. The only thing you will have to do is take a creative picture of your book, post it on your social media pages and ask your followers to follow a certain set of rules in order to join the giveaway. These rules can include:

• Liking the post regarding the giveaway
• Sharing the post in their feeds
• Tagging one or more friends in the comments
• Following your account

You can choose one or more of these rules to follow and make the post more suited to your preferences. In any case, though, you will come to find that giveaways are not only easy to host but also actually effective at promoting your new work in a short amount of time.

3. Offer a chapter of the book for free

Another thing you can use in order to promote your book through your social media pages is to offer your followers the chance to read the first chapter of your book for free. Not only will this tactic make more people want to buy it so they see what comes next, but you will also be able to get more people sharing the post about the free chapter and talking about it.

You should not forget to include a link to purchasing your book online at the bottom of the post. If you have the link placed conveniently at the end of the post, the reader is much more likely to make an impulse buy and purchase your book right after reading the free chapter.

4. Stay in contact with your fans

Fans like to know that their favorite authors are willing to come in contact with them online. Along with that, people who come across your page and see you being kind and willing to interact with your audience will definitely create a positive impression.

There are many ways for you to interact with your audience through your social media pages and every one of them can help you boost your book promotions. You can reply to DMs, host live chats where you answer questions about your new book and of course reply to comments and follow your fans back.

5. Create and use your own hashtag

Last but not least, another thing you can do in order to help your book promotion is to create a hashtag which will represent the new book. For example, if you are writing a fantasy book, the hashtag can be the name or a variation of the name of the universe the story takes place in. It can also be the name of the main hero.

You can invite your fans to use the hashtag in order to share pictures of them with the book which you can then repost on your social media pages. You can also follow people who use the hashtag or give them a shout-out. The more visible your hashtag becomes, the more people will be interested to learn more about its origins and therefore the more people will come across your new book.

Which one of these methods do you believe is the one that will best help you promote your book through your social media pages?

Kristin Savage is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the nearest future. Also, she has been a reviewer at Pick Writers for a few years and is known for her thorough approach to accurately assess newcomer translation services. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter .