Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Open Source Science Fiction World

I like science fiction; I like open source. Today, as I was biking home from the bike shop (they actually did replace the middle chainring this time), I thought of a fun way to combine my two interests. Now, I don't know how viable this would be in the long run but it would be a fun thing to experiment with. Maybe someone's done it already.

The idea would be to create a world -- a future, a universe, a "verse" -- that anyone could write a story in. Although the stories could be copyrighted, anything that actually affected the world as a whole would have to be open source too. The project would require a benevolent dictator like Linus Torvalds to make sure that there was coherence in the timeline.

One reason that this appeals to me is that when I read science fiction, I often find myself more interested in the background than in the story itself. I'm curious about the history, the social changes, the economics, and the politics of the imaginary world. I love when an author takes time to write an essay giving background on the verse.

Anyway, I thought of a real easy one that I could start with just a simple tweak on real reality. This alternate reality, which doesn't have a name yet, diverges from our own timeline yesterday, on May 1st 2006. In my verse, which I plan to release under conditions similar to those I described above, the demonstrations of 5/1/06 are even bigger than they were in real reality. Twice as many people turn out for the demonstrations. San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Houston, and NYC are shut down, Parisian style. I'm imagining they continue into the rest of the week, perhaps expanding into a more general walkout of low wage workers. Of course, much of the verse would be looking back on this as history and reflecting on implications rather than on the event itself.

Here's some info from Boing Boing on the demonstrations, which were pretty huge. Apparently they were pretty big in San Francisco, where I live. However, I didn't witness anything first hand -- I just read about it all on the Internets. Imagine if they had been big enough that every resident of San Francisco had first hand experience of the demonstrations. That's the kind of divergence I'm talking about.

Anyway, I won't go on right now. The point is, one could start with this single divergence and end up with a "platform" or "springboard" reality for science fiction.

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At 7:40 AM, Blogger Psipsina said...

Hey, John,

This reminds me of fan fiction, particularly fanfic inspired by fantasy or sci-fi shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."



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