Let’s write a story. Together.
Let’s start with the idea of an environment and a technology.
Something unimaginably old that people use every day, but aren’t too concerned about it when they do.
What else is tied to our perception of reality?
Politics, perhaps – but could our fascination with bureaucratization be enough to facilitate a lapse in our technology? Or at least enough to sustain our plot?
Perhaps a decline is not what we’re looking for. Instead: stagnation.
What would make our culture reach a point where it would say: “Enough. This is good enough.”
(I’m sometimes afraid we’ve already reached this point.)
It would have to be a world where making technology no longer was a priority because it no longer made money. In order for it to no longer be fiscally feasible, it would have to be ubiquitous – or nearly so.
So it would have to be homemade, as well as an incentive for people to make it themselves, rather than just having someone else make it for them.
And maybe we personalize it.
SO. What are we thinking here? We’re thinking of an extremely easy level of technology, right up there with, say, cooking.
This suggests something that is organic – because too many people are unskilled to create something mechanical.
Organic is easy.
Okay. So where does that leave us? Recap: An organic technology that has been spread throughout all cultures, has superseded all other forms of technology that garner the most money, and has brought an unprecedented equality (or perceived equality) across the boundaries of human experience, reducing social stratification and nationalistic feeling.
Holy crap. Let’s do this thing!
This organic technology would have to be something that allowed people to connect to other people. It would also have to be capable of communicating pain and pleasure equally – because pain is the incentive for people to like things, right?
Or is that the absence of pain?
Depends on the person I suppose.
Now what else?
Does it have to be one thing, or can it be a number of things? And what about conflict? Are we looking at the need to encounter another species?
Hold the phone. ARE WE TALKING GALACTIC WAR? Because that idea is old, and already perfected in Ender’s Game.
So how to make it new again?
Could this technology take people somewhere else? Because if the only place they can go is into their own minds, that was done in The Matrix. If it takes us into another plane, which abandons earth, that might make it less relevant again – for both our readers and our characters.
And then people would be clamouring for galactic war.
And this is not Starship Troopers. (And Starship Troopers is already the best there is.)
This has to be a story about us, not somewhere else.
That is what will make it relevant.
That is what will make it ours.