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

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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

 

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’

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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

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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

Francis Kennerman – The Glory Years

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A quick update with a drawing of Francis Kennerman. One of the main characters from my book.

Young Francis

 

I was trying to capture his arrogance and thoughtfulness. I might put a bit more time into this in the future, but I quite like it as it is.

Till next time,

KL Carter

The Ratter Logo

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Ratter is the fifth highest corporation and a very secretive bunch of people.

(I did a previous Logo Exploration that you can find here. However it was back when I was persistent in the idea of including the whole name in the logo, which didn’t really work in hindsight).

You can't call them spineless!

This is the Ratter Logo. Following on with the same style as the rest. However this logo varies in shape, being a tad bigger than the others.

The subject of the Ratter logo is a spine. They are seen as those who put in a backbreaking amount of work. The Ratter are also prone to sticking to their values and holding on until the bitter end. You can expect the Ratter to be quiet and reserved, saving their strength for a fight worth extruding effort. Don’t however confuse them for being lazy, as they will cut you without a second thought.

I like parts of this one and dislike other bits. However it does have a certain feel to it that I’m quite pleased with.

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On writing news, I’ve took a day off today and made a structurally unsound Lego castle. Ah, the simple joys in life.

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The Ratter Logo is also part of the cover design. It ended up looking a bit spooky and mysterious, which pleases me.

May the cold keep you warm,

KL Carter