One of the projects I have in the works for 2020 is the reissuing and updating of the entire Netwalk Sequence book series, including new covers, updating outdated tech, fixing continuity errors, updating the back matter references, consolidating related short stories into one volume, and modernizing the layout for the first two books (I reread the whole series and hoo boy, the pre-2016 versions are…rough). While it’s interesting that I’m seeing comments from other writers on Facebook about doing similar work with their science fiction series, including the tech updates, the fact that I’m doing it isn’t what triggered this short blog.
It’s what I saw in my notes when I decided to look back at them.
Now this series has had a heavily political foundation, even if it hasn’t always been front and center. Even as far back as the summer of 1992, when I first lay out the timelines which led to the Netwalk series, I had projected real-world events based on if Bush won or Clinton won the Presidency. Those outlines were shockers when I went back to look at them in 2012, simply because I had called a few trends based on my political science background, political activism, and regular reading. I don’t know where I’ve filed those outlines but I do have them on hand. I just haven’t dug them out yet.
What blew me away were some of the notes I made in 2012–specifically, March, 2012. I projected an economic downturn and a Republican presidential victory in 2016 that led to further political fragmentation. Now while I went out on a limb thinking that biofuels were going to be a thing (they aren’t, but in 2012 with gas prices they seemed feasible), I did make some comments about 2020 being the hottest summer ever, with massive power failures leading to infrastructure collapses. Which led to the rise of a third party with midlevel corporate support for stronger environmental policies as a driver. I completely missed electric cars. But I have hit growing economic marginalization within regions.
I did find that system collapse in this projection happens in the 2020s-2030s. My notes read as follows: “The darkness I haven’t wanted to face is my projection of major systems collapse happening in the 20s-30s. For one thing, I’ll be an old lady when that happens and I really don’t like that idea. My projections have come scarily close to the reality (note: referring back to 1992 outlines here) and that’s not a good feeling.”
What I do seem to be missing (and will be addressed in these updates) is today’s concerns about climate change. But still. Coming across those notes from almost eight years ago was a bit startling, to say the least.
On the other hand, it’s increased my confidence that I’ll be able to call short-term, near-future developments which will be a part of the next book project. Which does not have a title other than “The Ruby Project” yet (the protagonist, Ruby, is named after a local mountain), and the McGuffin that drives it is robotic agricultural technology (pinpoint agriculture) as well as advances in plant technology which will address carbon sequestration and such. Yep, I’m gonna be working on the agripunk book once I get Judgment of Honor through production. I have some exciting leads for local agronomy information, a good basic conflict, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a bit of a thriller-chiller. Quite a change from Judgment, or even the Vortex Worlds book that I’m also poking at through research. But the Ruby Project should also give me good material for the Netwalk updates as well.
Fascinating times ahead. But Ruby is going to be a bit more cheerful than Netwalk–for my own sanity, if nothing else.