Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Real "Universe X"

Since February I have been writing what could be classified as micro-science fiction: "news" stories that I collectively call Universe X. The project started as a way to help me keep my sanity in the face of a barrage of depressing news and soul-crushing predictions about the near-future. I basically wrote the kind of news I wanted to see, as experienced in worlds very similar to our own. Each post was from a unique parallel universe (the "X" in the title), with its own history, and typically about something I considered very important at the time.

As I continued writing, Universe X became more: a vehicle for sharing ideas about how to fix the problems it reported. In my fictional worlds, solutions are often implemented, or about to be implemented, with mostly positive results (though there have so far been a couple of deviations, more in line with what I see as our likely future). As you might expect if you've read my other work, there is a strong environmental component to many of the problems, along with their attendant social impacts. In some universes, the solutions are draconian, imposed by governments or sanctioned international organizations; in others, they are social movements organically responding to imminent or existing problems. As a scientist, it's tempting for me to hope that new knowledge will change the way people look at the world, and prompt them to make it better; thus "discoveries" are made in some universes, and that hope is realized (or about to be).

Universe X has a unifying backstory that ties the posts together, with both a fiction and a non-fiction component. I won't reveal the fiction component here; it will continue to gradually present itself in the posts, and possibly a more complete treatment such as a novel. The non-fiction component, however, is embodied in my ongoing research into what drives humanity's future, which is fully exposed on my research Web site: the "universes" may be loosely interpreted as connected, alternative "worlds," and the snapshots provided by the posts are glimpses into some of the worlds not too far away from ours in time.

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