68. Futurevision: The Journey of a Short Story

Author: Nola Published: 3 months ago.
Tags: short stories, Futurevision, science fiction Category: Blog tour

It’s Gree Jarko. Senior tech. I don’t have long. I’m in the bowels of the ComCheck building. They’ll stop me when they work out what I’m doing. But I can’t ignore what I’ve found. It changed me. It could change you. I hope you see this. I’ll keep typing as if you will.

This is the opening paragraph from my short story One Hundred Words that appears in the anthology Futurevision recently published by 1231 Publishing. Futurevision was the brainchild of author, editor and publisher Delia Strange. She called for submissions of fictional tales set in the future, and the result was an eclectic collection of twenty stories by twenty Australian authors. Some stories fit purely in the realms of science fiction, with imaginative technological advances and interplanetary travel. Other stories speculate on the near future. There may be the odd pandemic, environmental disaster or military takeover; but there’s also humour and the hope of better things to come.

For my story, I imagined a world in which all communications were reduced to their bare bones. My heroine spends her workdays reducing emails and articles to the one hundred words ordained by the Waste Tribunal. She’s never questioned this way of life until she discovers a box of letters her grandfather had written to her grandmother fifty years earlier while he was serving overseas. She’s captivated by the beautiful language and realises how much she’s missed by submitting to the Waste Tribunal’s edicts. What does she do about it? Well, you’ll just have to read my story to find out.

One Hundred Words had a long gestation period. It started as an assignment for my Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide back in 2010. I’d been thinking about how communication had changed since I was at school. I’d always loved writing and receiving letters, but snail mail was on the decline. Emails, texts, tweets, and social media had revolutionised communication, but I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic for the old days when I’d open my actual, rather than virtual, mailbox to find letters from penpals in India, Germany, and Sweden.

The story was revised several times, taking into account valuable feedback from my lecturer, husband and critique partners. I entered it in a couple of competitions, without success, but kept it on the backburner. Fast forward to early 2017 when I heard about the Futurevision anthology only a few weeks before the closing date. My story fit the theme, but the publisher had mentioned she wouldn’t be accepting any more military stories because she already had a few of those. In my original version, the heroine’s grandfather had been a soldier in Afghanistan and wrote about those experiences in his letters. Was that too military? I didn’t want to take any chances, so I rewrote his character as a peace keeper in the Middle East. I also sought feedback from another friend and incorporated her suggestions. The story was accepted and I was thrilled to find that it would be the opening piece in the collection. Delia Strange also did a fantastic job with editing, formatting and cover design for the volume.

In the seven years my story was percolating, we’ve come closer to the world I imagined. I recently spoke to a teenage girl who’d never been inside a post office and a nine-year-old girl who didn’t know what a postage stamp was. I wouldn’t want to go back to the time before email and social media, but I can’t help thinking we’ve lost something along the way. Hopefully, my story will provide food for thought, as do the other stories in the anthology.

Paperback copies of Futurevision can be purchased from Amazon or 1231 Publishing for just $10 AUD (plus postage). Electronic copies will be available soon. If you’d like to find out more about the stories, scroll down the Futurevision page at 1231 Publishing and click on the arrows to read extracts from all contributions.

Friend and fantasy author, Jeanette O’Hagan, will be blogging about her story Rendezvous at Alexgaia next Wednesday 4 October. Why not pop over to her website in the meantime and find out why she writes by the light of two moons.

What do you think our world will be like in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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