Prompt for the week: 9th March – 14 March 2015.
It used to be called Science Fiction—now it’s called Speculative Fiction. It’s not Fantasy, not likely to deal with Zombies or Vampires, but it is the writer’s take on the future. Will we visit other planets? Will we solve the climate change problem? Will the Chinese rule the world, and what would that be like? Is the future dystopian or utopian?
Think about what schools might be like in the future or what kinds of pets people would have? Could there be technology that would allow us to read each others’ minds? What would the life span be in the future? Will the future be peaceful or full of wars? Will the map of the world have changed–countries disappeared, absorbed, destroyed? What about transportation in the future? Will we be ‘beaming’ ourselves hither and yon? And population–will there be standing room only? Jobs? Love—discouraged or encouraged?
The market for speculative fiction is strong and shows no sign of slowing. Maybe you’ll write the beginning of a new bestseller.
In 500 words or less, write the beginning of a story set in the future or in the past (as in speculative Fiction), near or far.
In your critique consider whether the future the author presents is believable. What kind of detail does the author use to give life to his/her view of the future? Is this view of the future likely to happen? Does the author intrigue us, make us want to go further into his/her idea of the future. Would you read on? Why?
Grandma Veni and I were walking to the temple to hear the sermon of a renowned Guru visiting Hyderabad. On our way, a white-bearded elderly man clad in saffron, stopped us to inquire for directions to the post-office.
Grandma folded her hands with reverence and rendered the man help.
She said to me, “He’s a great man with knowledge and wisdom. He’s the one speaking of the path to attaining salvation.”
He doesn’t know the way to the post-office. What insights could he offer into the pathways to Moksha I wondered, yet remained silent.
We reached the temple and took our seats, squatting on the floor under the huge Banyan tree. The man we met earlier appeared followed by a long line of pupils. They looked like an orange army of starved, malnourished youth, lost in the abyss of life. Guruji took his seat on the foot-high wooden bench and recited a sloka invoking peace on the planet followed by a thank you to God for everything he presented humanity with.
He then began …
He spoke at length of birth and death as the only realities with an inconsequential filling of a mirage (Maya) in-between, that we chase after. He then spoke of how humanity molested nature with its greed. He drew a time-frame starting with humanity waging war against each other over territorial rights for land; followed by wars over the natural resources, starting with un-replenishable ones first – gas, oil and minerals. For my 13 year old brain, it was all blah-blah-blah. I fidgeted getting bored. Grandma shhhh-ed me a couple of times as Guruji concluded his talk with a forecast of humanity waging wars over water and food. In his opinion that’d be the self driven human Apocalypse.
“Amul, my tea,” my husband called from the bedroom. I jolted from my reverie and sighed deeply. I looked at the headlines of the day’s daily – “13 people killed in Bihar over water.” The article said, a fierce fight erupted between two villages. They fought for the rights over a well. In just 20 years Guruji’s words had become a reality. Where will this slippery slope of human-greed lead us? Where will it end?
Will it become a luxury to offer a glass of potable water to my grandchildren?