It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that I thoroughly enjoyed Inauguration Day. I began supporting President Obama early on, attracted both by his obvious intelligence and his ability to take strong stands while still keeping a door open to the other side. And even though I am too old to put all my faith in any politician, I do have some hope that he’ll be able to get the U.S. back on a positive track.
I confess I got up in my living room and danced a jig when they announced that Bush was no longer president. I was depressed when the Supreme Court gave him the election in 2000, but back then I had no idea how much harm he could really do. As a citizen, I’m relieved to see him go.
But as a writer, I feel a little like the editorial cartoonists and stand up comics: There goes some of my best material! While I write a lot of different things — as Book View Cafe readers have no doubt figured out — one of the subjects I’ve kept coming back to in recent years is disaster of various kinds in the near future. In fact, my story for this week, “Hallowe’en Party,” is a good example.
Even when my near future disasters have a happy ending — and some of them do — they still rely on a world where problems such as those we face right now just continue to get worse. So I can’t help but worry about what will become of my fiction if things start getting better. I mean:
- What if we manage to get the world economy back into functioning order, instead of lurching from one financial disaster to another?
- What if we actually manage to get enemies talking to each other instead of lobbing bombs?
- Or what if we actually get global warming under control before the glaciers melt and the sea levels rise a few feet?
As a human being, I’d be extremely happy. But as a writer, what would I do for material?
Fortunately — or unfortunately — no matter how good a job President Obama does, I suspect the human condition won’t improve so markedly that there won’t be a place for what an old writer’s group of mine always called BTFs: bleak, totalitarian futures.
But it is possible that the BTFs won’t be the same ones we’re scared of this week.