Projecting the future

The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is a time to reflect on things you got right and got wrong in the last year.  (Which presumably leads to New Year’s Resolutions with that capital R.)

One of the challenges of writing in the future is getting technology right.  As Mark Twain observed in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Merlin’s predictions always seemed to be true, as long as they were made about events far enough away as to be impossible to observe.  My challenge is that I’m writing about at time less than a decade in the future. Since I was making the fundamental projections underlying Fatal Score’s plot in 2011, it’s probably fair to review them now.  To be fair, I originally set Fatal Score in 2040. Fortunately, I never mentioned a date, so it was easy to pull back to 2026 as the technology moved faster than I thought.  (The year is never mentioned in any of the books, and matters only to set days of the week.)

The two major assumptions were CyberWar I and HealthScore. I’ll cover these in this post, and the smaller, more obvious ones in the next post.

  • CyberWar I was the impetus for the national firewall I called the IAC, or ‘Yak’ in common parlance.  The jury’s out on that one, but I think we’re in the early stages of a major confrontation. Listen to any sensible security expert (Malcolm Nance, for instance).  
  • HealthScore: Back in 2011, when the rocky rollout of Obamacare was in process, a major concern was long-term inflation of medical care costs, multiplied by an aging population, would bankrupt us.  In a cynical mood, I assumed the government would act by shrugging off responsibility to a system similar to credit scoring.  So the current FICO score for credit became HealthScore for the twenty most serious genetically-related diseases (many cancers, ALS, MS, etc.).  I assumed their genetic behavior would be fairly well understood by the time of the story.  The optimist in me says that Obamacare, like Social Security and Medicare, has become so integrated into national expectations that it will somehow continue.  The realist says Obamacare doesn’t do much for healthcare costs, the government writ large has no politically viable solution to cost control, so we may yet have rationing (my HealthScore).  I hope not.


I have learned some editing lessons in the last week.  Three, in fact:

  • When they say ‘Don’t edit your own work’ … they’re right. I have read over Fatal Score at least ten times. During those readings,I ignored at least two dozen obvious mistakes.  My copy editor missed them, as well (though at least some were probably caused by just-have-to-do-it tweaks post copyedit).  These are not grammatical shadings, but duplicated words, mixed tenses and the like.  The main problem is that first draft was first person/present tense.  I changed to third person/past tense several rewrites ago.  I didn’t execute all the tense changes correctly.
  • Grammar checkers check only grammar, not the abovementioned stupidities. I know that’s a tautology, but (for me) a painful one.
  • If you employ a copy editor, make sure you mention that you expect a serious reading of the material, not a cruise-through by Word or Grammerly.

I am indebted to early readers of the book, who have pointed out obvious problems. (Ned Froelich, your careful reading is far beyond the call of ARC reader duty.) The good news is Print on Demand allows for changes.

POD does not assuage authorial mortification.