Comfy? Or Crazy? (Or Both?)

Comfy or Crazy?As with every NaNo, what I plan to write before November 1st and what actually occurs during the month is often quite different. I’ve got a synopsis/plan/set-of-notes that you can read if you’re interested in my story idea details. It’s a live document, so it’ll change as I progress through November.

Rather than rehash the synopsis, I thought I’d talk about the underlying concepts that inspired this year’s story. Every year I start chewing on some “Big Idea” or two, and those big ideas often lead me to a plot, or a cast of characters, or both.

This year the first Big Idea that struck me was how, as technology advances, many of us will lead less and less risky lives. For instance, as automated driving systems advance, car crash injuries and fatalities will continually decrease, and might eventually be eliminated completely. Better medical coverage and screening could treat diseases before their detrimental effects take hold. Advancements in storm warning systems and predictive models can give society the opportunity to evacuate from danger zones, or brace for impact. Ubiquitous surveillance could significantly reduce crime, or at least help catch the perpetrators after the fact.

Okay, so all of that’s interesting, but…what about the other side of things? We can live in a world where we let technology shelter us from risk. Sounds like a plan. Until you see someone doing this:

Uh…okay. Never mind living in a safe cocoon. Instead, throw that cocoon off a cliff and hope it’s aerodynamic. Whoa.

And while I’ve provided an extreme example, there are lots of examples of individuals forgoing the safety modern society provides, and putting themselves out on the edge just…because they can.

This interest intrigues me. So I’m going to explore it this year by talking about the ultra-conservative/ultra-safe Earthlings vs. the ultra-risky/ultra-daredevil Martian/Belters. As with any good story, these two extremes aren’t as black and white in my story’s reality as they are stated here, but the juxtaposition of the two viewpoints: live life as safely as possible vs. take on every risk available gives me ample territory for exploration.

I’m also planning on exploring other Big Ideas, like the value of timely information (and what instantaneous communication would mean to us, especially as we leave Earth to settle other parts of our solar system, and even galaxy), how aliens might view intellectual and physical property rights (and how they might enforce violations), man’s desire to believe we’re not alone, and what extraordinary (and perhaps ridiculous) steps we might take to assuage our fears.

As always, November’s gonna be fun! Wish me luck!

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