Guest Post: Steven Saus on What Fates Impose

Steven Saus over at Alliteration Ink recently launched a Kickstarter for a new anthology of speculative fiction stories edited by Nayad A. Monroe. It features a fantastic lineup of storytellers, including Maurice Broaddus, Jennifer Brozek, Cat Rambo, Lucy A. Snyder, Tim Waggoner, and LaShawn M. Wanak, and it leads off with an introduction by Alasdair Stuart. 

These are all writers you should be reading. 

The anthology — What Fates Impose: Tales of Divination — is packed with stories about what happens when people can predict their future. Many of them go wrong, of course, in spectacular and entertaining ways. By way of a taste for the book, Steven sent me this guest post about his visions of the future. 

There are no freaking hovercars.

Okay, so hovercars would be a massive energy waster. And probably the cause of a gibizillion sagans worth of accidents. So let’s narrow our focus.

I don’t have a freaking hovercar.

Or a cybernetic arm, for that matter. My first Cyberpunk 2013 character — and my online handle for over a decade — was named Surgical Steel. “Master of the Twirling Knives,” no less. He was a medic. With a portable computer and modem. And a cybernetic arm.

Well. It’s freaking 2013, and I’m at an age that my teenage self simply couldn’t comprehend as being anything but stat-loweringly old. I don’t have the cybernetic arm, but somehow I ended up in medicine, and I currently have, stashed on my person, two pocket-sized computers, both far and away more powerful than anything anyone thought reasonable in that earlier age.

We’re also missing the huge corporate buyout of American society and culture — er, wait. No, we’ve got large chunks of that. Nevermind.

I remember trying to imagine what it would be like in 2013. How I would feel. What it would be like. My not-yet-able-to-drive self simply couldn’t imagine the experience of being just shy of my fortieth birthday.

But more than that, I couldn’t imagine the fundamental and transformative differences that happened in the last twenty to thirty years. And that’s the danger of fortunetelling.

You can provide nuggets of data. They might even be accurate. But without the context around those artifacts from the future, there’s no way to really realize how they transform society. We have the news-on-a-screen from 2001. In many ways, we have the tricorder from Star Trek.

But we didn’t see how Twitter could be a shaper of news. How Facebook could form and twist opinion. How that portable screen can be something other than a glowing bit of paper.

That’s the challenge thrown down to writers, and particularly to the writers in What Fates Impose, a collection of short stories edited by Nayad Monroe. We’re running a Kickstarter campaign to pay the authors. If there’s a hope of keeping the conglomerate corporate ownership of our culture at bay, independent projects like this one, funded through mechanisms like Kickstarter, are the way to go.

I’d like to ask two small things of you. Take a moment to check out our Kickstarter. The video features Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod) reading a portion of his introductory essay “Singing From the Book of Holy Jagger.” I love hearing Alasdair talk about stories and culture and life; I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Second, please help spread the word. We have a special page to make it a matter of three clicks. If you can’t back the Kickstarter financially, this is a quick and easy way you can still help out.

These are some amazing stories by award-winning authors, and they deserve your support. They’re showing us the way into the future.

And I can’t wait.