Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Socialite Inventions: the challenge of doing scifi while "keeping it real"

Science fiction has a long history of introducing readers to fantastic, creative technology.  Sometimes the technology is a novel amalgamation of contemporary materials, as in H.G. Wells "The Time Machine."  At other times it comes out of extrapolation from real science to create an advanced, though for the reader, plausible, device or craft, like ray guns or warp-traveling cruisers.  While developing Socialite, I needed to create two distinct levels of technology.  The technology used on Earth had to seem just a few years advanced of current society.  The technology of the Aliens had to be extraordinary, yet at the same time, easily concealed from the people on Earth.  Creating these two types of techs was the most enjoyable part of writing the series (and continues to be as I work on Socialite II).

Socialite is set in the not-too-distant future, so most of the technology on Earth was created to be a slight advancement of the tools around today.  The main internet tool, the Socialite network, though designed by the alien Ray Amis, is incrementally superior in form and function to Google, Facebook etc.  It enables secure and private one stop computing for social and business communications.  Most of its advanced functionality comes out of the universal adoption of the tool by governments and businesses around the world.  I drew on my experience in designing security software to create the "RiddlePass" authentication layer of Socialite that is described in Book 2: Mission to Mission.

Many of the other tools, including the Amis home security system, cell phone enhancements, collapsible tablet computers and button cameras, were developed to appear as logical extensions of current tech.  For example, in Book 3: To Humanize, teenager Matt Low is given a gift from his dad: a pair of sunglasses with a camera imbedded in the glabella area (between the eyes) and the ability to snap a photo or video of whatever you are looking at, and wirelessly have it sent to a nearby cellphone.  The glasses in the photo (above) were recently developed, and Google has been reported to be working on their own version.

Also shown in the photo above is a currently available version of another of the gifts Matt received from his dad, Stroop clothes.  I didn't realize when I wrote Book 2 that these clothes exist, but I am not surprised since the Stroop effect has been investigated by psychologists since the mid 1930s.  The Stroop clothes that Matt received were gaudy and unwearable by a teenage boy in North America. (E.g., bright baby blue pants with the word "white" printed all over them.)  Like the "Wonders of the world" halloween costume that Matt's dad gave to Matt in Book 1, these two gifts symbolized the distance between Matt and his parents.  The glasses in Book 3 symbolized a bridging of the distance: Matt and his friends thought they were really cool.

The most advanced types of technology described in Socialite are their ship and their "siloplasts".  Their ship is named after the author Jonathan Swift (it's description and the reason for it's name I will leave for readers to discover.)  The siloplasts are the bridge between current and future tech.  They are miniature semi-autonomous robots that have a kind of symbiotic relationship with their carriers/hosts.  Described as micro tech, rather than nano tech, siloplasts are both the aliens' greatest and worst technological achievement.  In Book 2, Ray describes them as an extension of the metal organic framework technology that enables car engines to consume water instead of fossil fuels.  This technology allowed me to include a lot of speculation on evolution, adaptation and memory (pet interests of mine after studying Biology and Evolutionary Psych for years).

Dreaming up plausible extensions of current tech and feasible versions of new tech has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of creating the Socialite series.  I hope that readers have as much fun reading the books as I had writing them.  Here are the links to download my books.  The first book "Bees to Benny" is still free - and please remember to post a review at the site where you got the book - I know that time is precious for all of us, so every review or comment is greatly appreciated.

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Martin%20Renaud

Apple iPad, Ipod, Iphone: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/martin-renaud/id477163464?mt=11

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=Martin+Renaud+Socialite

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