Skin colour in sci-fi writing – a future perspective

corporationhands

The hands represent the top five corporations in my book

When I set out to write a sci-fi novel set over a thousand years into the future, I wanted to dissolve culture down into its basic building blocks and then rebuild it in a distorted and twisted corporate image. Imagine being locked in a room all your life with nothing but a bunch of Dyson hoover manuals for company, you’d be pretty messed up. By the end you would be shouting out phrases and bullshit, taking about nozzle collectors and brush length like it was gospel –this is Future Grim— well, my interpretation of a solely corporate dominated future.

What does that mean? What does it have to do with skin colour?

Good point, but I feel you need the set up to understand the problem I presented myself with.

Prejudice as a concept is never going to disappear. It will take a few more generations for us to stop discriminating against women, let alone against different skin colours. I feel that prejudice is here to stay for the long haul and is just a basic element of our fear abiding brains telling us to be scared of the unknown, get to shelter and feed yourself and your family.

In my future, your life is devoid of the culture we understand today. You grew up in a heavily designed and controlled environment (know as the corporate culture) where political correctness has been taken to its peak (you could say, a political acceptance). This leaves a prejudice vacuum in which hatred is directed at rival corporations. Initially this would be to incentivise healthy competition, but after generations it would soon grow to fill the discrimination gap.

So I was left writing my story set in a world without the standard culture or discrimination that we are so familiar with today. Initially to combat that I left out skin colour description all together so that the reader could imagine a character as looking Asian, European, African ect. This however backfired as most of my characters ended up feeling European, because of the heavy use of corporate terminology and ideas that permeate throughout my universe. I didn’t want to describe characters as being from certain countries as this then brings along the cultural baggage that those countries have. Suddenly a character who is described as having a Latino complexion has a slight Spanish twang with every word they speak.

This lead me to my recent revelation of how to describe skin colour in my book. As with all great corporate things, it stems from categorisation. This one being standard plus or minus one.

Standard = Light brown

Standard plus one = Darker brown

Standard minus one = Lighter brown

It goes on in either direction to the different shades, with plus or minus three being the limits on either end. This should hopefully elevate my current cultural problems until I find the next common thing I need to describe.

Of course this doesn’t solve all the problems, but it does allow me to limit the focus on race (and allow myself to have a racially mixed set of characters) while still following the corporate culture that my universe demands.

What have other people done in their fiction to tackle these subjects, are they a part of your plot or have you done something similar to be because the world demands it? I’d love to hear from fellow creators.

In other news, I recently purchased www.klcarter.co.uk, which currently just leads to this blog. When I get some spare cash I’ll invest in a website or something.

I’m still editing Future Grim: Origins at the moment, but it’s coming along leaps and bounds. I’ve had plenty of great suggestions from my test readers (both happen to be crazy scientists) that has allowed the little kinks in my story to be ironed out.

Keep it spacey,

Kyle Carter

I’ve got 60k problems and my intro ain’t one

Future Grim is a universe devoid of culture and commanded solely by warring corporations. These corps battle for the wealth of human resources, in bouts of so called bloody business.

Kennerman are the no. two of the top five. It is up to Francis Kennerman and his his loyal COs to take back the top spot from the mysterious Alberton. The no. three, Volan, headed by Nigel will undermine the rules and regulations to seize the top spot for himself.

Disloyalty, dishonesty and desertion will not be tolerated. The Future is Grim.


I’ve had problems, editing problems.

60k> words isn’t easy to edit. I’ve been churning through the early chapters, but then I find myself slipping backwards to the first chapter. I polish it and repeat. The first two parts of the six are better than ever, however the rest hasn’t been touched in over a year. I’ve had to implement a colour coded ‘do not touch’ system to attempt some form of progression.

post dune

The good news is I’ve started listening to some audiobooks while doing my brain absent job. I got around to experiencing Dune, which turns out has similar concepts. It’s been great inspiration for me and I’ve called this period of writing the ‘post Dune’ era. What I enjoyed the most was the way exposition was handled. In my own initial drafts I now know that I left out too much information to the point the reader wouldn’t understand.

I’ve also listened to Snow Crash, which was equally amazing. I’m always up for some sci-fi recommendations.

My goal now is to polish each part to a certain level and then move on. I’ve given myself to the end of this week to create a first part that I’m happy with.

In other news, my mate has been creating mechanical keyboard reviews. I recently created an intro for him, so it makes sense to give him a shout out. It’s interesting and worth a look if you like things technical (also he has a deep and soothing voice :P).

Till next time…

Kyle

 

Long time no post – Part three: “Shit son, seven months…”

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The book is dragging on by knuckle skin and tendon splinters.  63,000 words or something; it’s not about the words anymore (it was never about the words). I have three important topics to cover. The editing, the contest and the future. Let us start with the start.

The Editing

I’ve never edited anything for this long (and I trained as a video editor). The book has lost all meaning and I have been bored of several chapters several times over. I’ve taken the obligatory ‘month off’ to recoup and re-evaluate. It did help but only felt like a temporary fix.

My outlook has changed now Another friend has offered to help and they happen to be someone who is critical. It feels a good time to seek advice and my writing is benefiting from this approach. My first ten chapters have never been better. Some chapters have been moved and the whole text flows a lot more than it has ever done. It’s starting to make sense and it doesn’t need me constantly chiming in with exposition–because it’s all in the blood text! To create a science fiction world isn’t just about ideas, you need to really sell it as a genuine situation.

And then bam, I realised that I’m enjoying working on my book again.

So that ends this post, I’ll post about the contest tomorrow (If I remember).

Laters,

Kyle Carter

 

Day 1: Camp Nanowrimo 2015

I am utilizing Camp Nanowrimo2015 to edit my WIP Novel, Future Grim: Origins.

My goal is 70k words and currently I’ve got 58,000. It means I need to write 400 a day in April to hit the mark. The first problem I’ve stumbled at is that editing severely reduces word count. I’m currently down 100 words already and I’ve only been working for a couple of hours.

Though a deadline has definitely helped as it has given me a goal. This is the most dedicated I’ve been in weeks.

On the art side, I created a few character icons and collected them into a tasty poster thing. The Kennerman and Volan cast are present. They are created by digitally altering photographs in photoshop. I can’t draw this good yet.

 

 

CharactersWallaper

 

My mate is also attempting to write in April and we’ve created a Camp cabin. It appears it is mostly filled with ertoic fiction writers. Not what I was expecting but I’m sure it will be a laugh.

Laters,

Kyle.

 

I’m not sure if I’m writing Science Fiction

FutureGrimInfo Pinning down genre is a tricky thing. I always assumed what I was writing was a Science Fiction novel. It’s set in space, there are ships that travel faster than light and new planets have been colonized. However I’m not writing another Star Trek/Wars/Gate. I enjoy that genre but I’ve always found it to be riddled with accepted cliches. Some good and some bad, never the less baggage of the genre.

My story focuses on corporations, the fight between exploitation and utilising the population. In many ways it’s a warped reflection on the current state of the world (especially the UK). The fact it’s set on different worlds and in space isn’t the main focus of the plot. The characters in my book find being in space a bit mundane. Of course there is a risk of alienating the reader, however I have certain elements to keep the characters relatable.

Then the dark comedy rears it’s head, making deciding the genre even harder. I begin to wonder if I need a genre, which I always answer in my head with ‘of course you do’. So I dip back to the drawing board and begin to look at Spy-Fi (awful name), Thriller, Mystery and Action. I always end up feeling that my book has these, or elements of them. Surely my book can’t be everything? So I’m back to Science Fiction. I’m not sure if there is a relevant genre, I guess I will have to wait for a few friends to read it to see what they think fits.

Book wise I’ve just hit 60k words, which isn’t bad. I’m just focusing on getting words down (I’ve already got a plan and know what I want to happen). I’m struggling getting the enthusiasm to write the last few pieces. I’m pretty sure it’s a mix of feeling my work is inadequate and the limited joy of writing the end of a story.

Till next time,

Kyle

Break your ‘Writers Dam’

FutureGrimInfo

I’m very much in the mindset of ‘if you can control your negative thoughts then you can control your actions’.

A great example of this is previously I always struggled with writing in afternoons. I’d tell myself that I could only write in the morning or evenings; the afternoon was a strange time usually filled with game of thrones or chores (the former is more prevalent).

Then I looked at how I worked in a different mindset. That everything I did was self created. I wasn’t coming up against a writer’s block, but a writer’s dam. A self created construct that I can destroy whenever I feel like it.

This has empowered me to the point that I can write in a spare half an hour or even the afternoon. What was once a flaw became something I could defeat, and it made me excited to write.

I suggest next time you are faced with writer’s block is to understand that it is only a mental construct. You have the power to knock down the dam at any time if you bring enough imaginary gunpowder! (or, for the more peaceful folks, maybe have a protest to get the dam closed down? I’m sure someone could come up with a creative way to render a dam unusable).

On the topic of my book, I hit 50,000 words today! Chapter 11 is coming along nicely and I’m deciding how many more I’m looking to write.

Till next time,

Kyle

Pokemon: How it Changed my Thoughts

FutureGrimInfo

I grew up in the clutches of the yellow rat. I’m not a fan of Pokémon any more, but it’s not the plot lines or the characters, but the monetary addiction I had as a child.

The cards were expensive. My pocket money fluttered off into the pockets of monsters. So much Lego wasn’t bought, so many sweets left un-tasted. The real lesson for me was when the next craze came in, disrupting their crown. Bayblades took over as the childhood hero and I was left with a bunch of worthless cards. But I did not fret, I abstained from these childhood pursuits (and I saved my money for something).

This simple act has shaped my life. I’ve not jumped into the popular things simply because of their popularity, but because of their merit or personal interest. Peer pressure will never be able to grasp me again.

I’m not sure my life would be the same without that one choice. I certainly wouldn’t be writing a book about a world in which man can’t control their own actions.

I hope to do more explanations into how my past has shaped who I am today.

Think happy thoughts,

KL Carter