I am unqualified to deliver pronouncements about the future as it applies to machine technology, though I did it once with a novel about life in a future machine age, CEL & ANNA. I am about to do it again with a second, darker novel: WARNING: SOMETHING ELSE IS HAPPENING.
These novels are no good on a technological level. They have no technological level. So where did they come from?
Why choose me?
The only advantage I have as a teller of these tales—at least the only one I can think of—is that I have been using computers for a long time. By the mid-1990s I had owned a personal computer for 7-8 years and been using social media for about 3 years.
In 1988, my brother gave me a cast-off Mac Plus. One day after I got it, I used MacPaint to do the drawing below. Since I can’t draw, I was impressed that MacPaint enabled me to create something recognizable.
That Mac Plus had a 9-inch black and white screen, a floppy drive, and an 8 MHz processor—it was not even a toy by today’s standards. Yet that little beige toaster was a meteor of the personal computer revolution.
I was living in Washington, DC, at the time and belonged to an Apple user group called Washington Apple Pi. It was a time of high excitement and the reason was simple: The world was about to change forever and everybody knew it. The “something’s coming” feeling was in the air.
There are a lot of experiences in life I’d have been happy to miss but not that one.
Remembering before and after the Internet is useful, because someone who remembers will never, ever underestimate its influence. We are all different because of the internet: you, me, the people at the grocery store, and the grocery store, too. We take the internet for granted now. We should not.
I tried to explain what it was like to watch everything change in After This: Notes on the Computer Revolution.
I wrote about where stories come from before, in a post called The Circling Muse. That one was mainly about Nancy Stouffer, who created a character called Larry Potter and later tried to claim a piece of the Potter pie from JK Rowling. (She didn’t get anywhere, but her story is weird.)
Below is a picture of my muse, drawn by the brilliant Edward Gorey