Today I have the pleasure of having debut author, Anna Sheehan, of A Long, Long Sleep guest post. Her debut releases today! See below for information on how to win a copy!
Says Jessica, The Cozy Reader blogger, “You’re not readily accessible on the internet ie blog, twitter, website. Why is that? From the technology in your book I thought for sure I’d find you on the web!”
Oh no, I think. I’m going to have to try and explain this.
It’s probably best to show a little bit of what my life is actually like.
I’m going to send a letter. I go over to my desk, where there are a dozen goose and turkey feathers. I slice the end off of a right wing feather, carve it to a flattened point, and slice a slit up the middle. I then dip it into walnut ink from Italy, and address my envelope in copperplate script. (If I’m feeling lazy, I will use a metal nib in an oblique pen holder.)
We’re running out of milk. I do not hop into my car and drive to the store. Instead I go down the hill and collect my cow, whose name is Rosie. I take her up to the handmade stanchion, plunk myself on a crate, wash her teats, and milk her into a stainless steel bucket. I don’t use that new-fangled milking machine we have, because I’m faster and more efficient.
When someone asks me what my relationship is to technology, my first impulse is to say, “Are you kidding?” I only have a cell-phone because my family insisted, and it mostly stays forgotten in the bottom of my car. I write using WordPerfect, a computer program that has not been supported for nearly a decade (and boy does it drive my agent nuts!) I am an intelligent and educated person, but when it comes to technology, I tend to take the slow path.
We live already in a culture which makes the most outlandish science-fiction seem passé. We’ve already gone far beyond the technology needed for the constant surveillance and strict media control of Orwell’s 1984. But instead of Big Brother Watching Us, we cry our doings voluntarily into an empty sea of tweets and status updates. Instead of “altering” the facts to suit the propaganda, we focus on partisan minutiae and forget that the facts even exist. Even Star Trek, the futuristic focal point for two generations, seems almost quaint. Apart from aliens, warp travel and teleporters, I can think of very little technology in any given Star Trek episode that we don’t already have, in some form or another – communicators, unmanned drones, medical miracles.
Where does this leave the average science fiction writer? What else is there to invent that hasn’t already been invented, usually in the real world?
When it comes to science fiction, we have come to the point where the technology has to become secondary to the story one is trying to tell. In a world where we have glow-in-the-dark cats and I-Pads, the weird technology of the “future” can no longer be the focal point. 1984 is still relevant because the mental oppression and social stagnation of perpetual war is a story that still resonates. Star Trek, though dated, uses stories of aliens to tell stories of human interaction – and those are always timeless.
In writing A Long, Long Sleep, I used technology in two ways. The first was pure window-dressing, and I’m more than willing to admit that. Hover-cars, standard garbage incinerators and automatic retinal scans are nothing new. Despite the fact that most of these technologies are already out and about in the world, people still see them as “futuristic”. Having them as prevalent as I do is the only thing that makes the world of A Long, Long Sleep any different from our own.
However I did focus on one unconventional technology: stasis. Easy, reliable suspended animation is not a technology we currently possess. My intention was to explore all of the ramifications of a technology – the use and abuse of a technology – in order to tell a story of human interaction in the best and strongest way possible.
When it comes to our day-to-day interaction with technology, I often wonder if we’re moving too fast. In focusing on our instant text messaging and interactive sports games, many people have forgotten how to actually write, and no longer bother to go outside and play. It has been statistically proven that people read e-books slower than they read traditional bound and printed books. They buy more books, but actually read fewer of them, often failing to finish. Does this mean that we shouldn’t have e-books? No. There’s no reason to reject a benign technology – I’m no Luddite. But I do feel we need to keep in touch with traditional, well-established methods before those methods are lost forever. The printed page has been the repository of all knowledge since the invention of papyrus. Internet and e-books notwithstanding, I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.
In 1984, Orwell writes of a concerted effort to curb thought by diminishing language; a double-plus ungood practice. Well, plz. Can no1 C the FX ths haz on R thought process? Intelligent teenagers who read often are still handing in school reports with words like, “munny” (instead of money) and no punctuation. I fear if we turn entirely from paper to the screen to hold our knowledge, we will lose a great deal of it. At the same time, I doubt this article will ever be seen on a printed page. Does that mean I shouldn’t write it?
How silly is that idea?
Technology can give us both the good and the bad. When it comes to science-fiction, it is the writers’ job to explore the implications of both. When it comes to life, in my opinion, the same should apply.
Thank you Anna!
I hope the use of today’s technology helps you sell more books because your book is worthy of any attention to get it into the hands of readers.
More from Anna
Author Interview by Book Reviews and More
An odd interview of sorts of Xavier over at The Mod Podge Bookshelf
Candlewick has graciously provided a finished copy of A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan to one of my readers. Plus, Anna will sign and mail you a bookplate!
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