I’m editing my first NaNovel right now. I’m thinking about how a restaurant would work in the future, what would actually change, and really, in the background…? I’m thinking not so much.
Tomatoes still have to be chopped, cheese shredded, dishes washed. Sure, machines exist to do these things, but machines cost money that maybe a restaurant owner wouldn’t have to invest. And on a frontier planet with lots of eager workers (which means cheap labor) and high import costs, why wouldn’t you just hire somebody to do all that stuff?
But the technology exists, some will argue. Why don’t they use it? You didn’t think about that!
This is one of the problems I run into, writing sci fi. I remember talking about this book in the NaNo forums way back when. I mentioned they were out in the middle of nowhere and unable to contact civilization, and someone attempted to call me on it.
Everyone has cell phones now, why wouldn’t they have them in the future?
Well, dear, because cell phones are not magical talkie-things; they need a network. If no one has been out in the wilderness building cell phone towers, there will come a point in the journey where cell phones no longer work.
Satellite phones? Do they have any satellites? It’s the future, you know.
Sure, they have a few satellites. But if a cell phone is enough to call everyone you know (who lives in the city) why would you just happen to have a satellite phone?
GPS? How can they be lost?
Knowing exactly where you are on a map is helpful, but anyone who’s ever used GPS knows that it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. Also, no Google street view car in the untracked, unexplored wilderness. If a terrain feature can’t be seen from a satellite picture (due to, I don’t know, TREES?) it’s not yet known. So it’s knowing where you are on a blank map with “Here Be Monsters” scrawled on it. Not so incredibly helpful.
This idea that technology is both pervavise and infallible is not only silly, it’s dangerous. I liken it to the belief a lot of people seem to share that having a gun protects you from being shot. That’s not how it works, people. If it were, we would lose a lot less soldiers.
A gun is not a shield. Neither is a cell phone. And apparently some people have never suffered a low battery at an inopportune time. (Don’t get me started on people who never run out of bullets.)
I don’t know if it was the same person or someone else who critiqued my idea for a stretcher with a low-powered anti-gravity unit with “anti-gravity doesn’t exist, won’t ever exist.” I was delighted not long after to stumble across the theory that dark energy may be anti-gravity.
While I’m talking about naysayers, I’d also like to mention I had a know-it-all acquaintance who used to affirm with absolute certainty that it was not possible to travel faster than light. Things like hyperspace travel could not exist, because that would mean traveling faster than light and that was not possible. As if some omniscient traffic cop was out there to stop us.
Sure, I write soft SF. I still take my science seriously, man.