Friday, 28 October 2011

The story...

Apologies for posting twice in a day - I don't really like blogs that do loads of posts, and I certainly don't intend to follow that path myself. I did think it valuable that I outline what my story is going to be about, for my sanity if nothing else.

I always envisaged myself writing fantasy, lots of elves and so forth. I've spent 20 years looking for my story. When inspiration finally arrived, it took me by surprise - it involved elements of science fiction, which I don't even read! Initially, it was going to be about two worlds - one the traditional medieval fantasy fare, and one set in a post-apocalyptic future - that have been linked by a wormhole through space-time when some future researcher dabbles with something she doesn't really understand. The twist was to be whether or not the two worlds were indeed the same.

Now I've written that, it still sounds kinda cool to me. Anyway, most of the story was set in the olde worlde, but my thoughts were constantly dragged into the future. I was getting pretty hyped about the future world and all its characters and conflicts and felt nothing towards the old one. Maybe my wormhole idea was just a gimmick. I decided to ditch it, for now, and just pursue the part that was inspiring me.

Which leads me on to my short synopsis - the sort that can be shared with a friend in a lift before their eyes completely glaze over: "A young female scientist battles to uncover what caused the apocalypse, amidst a struggle to reestablish society."

It's ultimately a tale of greed and corruption. The setting is a world where the tabloid's dreams and science's nightmares have come true: runaway climate change, conflicts over water, food and other resources, mass overpopulation, pollution; if it can go wrong, it will have in my world, leading to a mass extinction. That sounds bleaker than I intend; some time after all of this calamity, society is being rebuilt in small pockets.

One such pocket is my town. It doesn't have a name, yet, but it's on a hill, surrounded by fields. Beyond the fields is the ring of mountains which protected this little enclave from the worst. I've always been inspired by this painting, The Bard by John Martin. My mountains will I guess probably be a little like that. The town is governed by an evangelical and unpopular protector, Joshua, who is doing his best to protect his people at the cost of certain freedoms.

Beyond the mountains are the plains that once hosted vast farms. In a desperate move to cope with the overpopulation and food crises, mass land clearances had taken place, with cities restructured in to tiny islands of densely packed skyscrapers - the inspiration here is Kowloon Walled City. It is amongst these desolate plains and ruined cities that intrepid researchers like Tom and Erin, my main character, now travel, as they seek to understand what caused the apocalypse, and to determine what threats lie ahead in the future.

The story is what Margaret Atwood would call 'Speculative Fiction'; as a scientist myself, it's important to have a strong basis in the art of the possible. Like Atwood though, it's possible to be wildly creative (I hope - eek!) once you've set the rules...

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