Thursday, October 25, 2007

It starts with an earthquake

zinnia degraded

I am not thinking about a science fiction novel.

That is a lie. I am always thinking about a science fiction novel. I just can't write one. I can't write fiction - I can't come up with, oh, characters. Plot. Dialog. Just not my gift.

However. I had a little time the other day, after touring some county library branch and stealing all their display strategies, and before picking up Mr. Four at preschool, and I used that time to buy myself a bowl of pho and read MIT Technology Review, and I motherfucking challenge any person to read MIT Technology Review and not come up with a whole batch of plot elements that would make the next William Gibson novel write itself.

It might help to be eating your soup dosed with unhealthy amounts of sriracha and lime, and to be listening to either Vietnamese rap music or Patti Smith.

But anyway.

Your Gibsonesque sci-fi novel could involve the creation of a digital network in Congo. The villian's thugs could be those horrendous tracksuit motherfuckers in South Kivu - you could disable them with a chemical that causes accelerated muscular degeneration.

Or there could be nanotechnology involved - a new organic polymer that you spritz on any household surface (the wall above the range, say, or the inside of the shower) and which forms a self-healing plastic film that can be peeled away and composted when that surface gets dirty. (The film degrades to water and, I don't know, long-chain acids.) Spritz again, et voilà! Instead of cleaning, it would be like peeling a big sticker, which everybody loves. It would be a race to patent it before the patent laws change.

Your protagonist could hide from the bad guys by judicious use of a cologne that contains a chemical that speaks to the face-recognition area in our brains. Wouldn't work at a distance or in photographs, but you love writing your way around plot obstacles.

and, as seen in the NYT style magazine T, the heroine wears this Skyward poncho. But not just a poncho: it is a shelter, a SHG MIS hub, a display (when needed), superthin ultraflexible body armor developed as a result of nanoscale bone disorder research, and, of course, a sound system. Behold:

and in my novel, the protagonist would at one point drive a shitty little manual-transmission car through deserted tree-lined streets paved with that asphalt with the glass in it.

And she has a robot helper.