Bard to the future

One of the weird things about writing a novel set in the near-future was watching real life catch up with the imagined world of my story. It’s probably not a problem for more outlandish visions, but since So Long, Shakespeare depicts a future just one or two steps advanced from where we are now, there was always a slight fear that reality might overtake fiction if I didn’t get a move on.

The two most susceptible strands of my plot related to the discovery that artistic creativity is a genetic absolute. As yet, of course, there is nothing but speculation as to the possibility of this, or indeed its potential implications. In my novel, however, the discovery happens pretty much at the start, before being dramatically addressed in two ways. There’s the mathematical angle, whereby a stubborn Stratfordian accidentally uncovers the numerical manifestation of the creative gene at work – a constant which occurs throughout every writer’s oeuvre, which he dubs the ‘Muse Ratio’. And then there’s the more direct approach, whereby an acclaimed geneticist not only discovers the creative gene but deduces how to transfer it from one human being to another.

In the end, by treating the ‘creative gene’ as a given, I created a firewall which prevented any present-day developments from overlapping too closely with the events of my book. Instead, those news stories which did resonate – for example Brian Vickers’ 2009 Pl@giarism analysis on the likely authorship of Edward III – spurred me on. A degree of realism, after all, was exactly what I was aiming for; as long as it didn’t make my central premise redundant, I was more than happy to embrace it.

Now the book is out in the big wide world, I can relax at last. Henceforward, whatever truths are discovered about the nature of creativity need not concern me. My story is of its time. Even if its predictions are shown to be way off the mark, it will still have merit as a historical artefact, to be filed alongside hoverboards and Judgement Day as remnants of imagined futures that never came to pass.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying I no longer experience that creeping dread when a news story touches on ideas explored in my novel. Quite the contrary. When yesterday I heard of David Reid’s report on the BBC’s ‘Click’ programme about computer programmes that replicate the styles, and arguably even souls, of great artists, I was only too happy to track down the link, take a look for myself, and simply savour the possibilities of what it had to say.


Posted on December 17, 2012, in Authorship, Books, So Long, Shakespeare and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Judgement Day is still totally coming. Great post. If your novel is as entertaining as your blog I know I am going to love it.

  2. I am envious of anyone who has been able to successfully navigate the pitfalls and menagerie of roadblocks to publish their work. Perhaps soon I can do the same. Good luck!

  3. Well luckily 1984 was nothing like 1984! 😛 I hope your novel is beautifully prophetic- like a modern- day Nostradamus perhaps?

  4. Another reminder that I have to get a blog going! Wake up daily with thoughts and ideas (mostly long overdue discussions with myself) thinking today is the day. Well, maybe tomorrow! I, by total accident (actually linked..who knows from what beginning, I believe I was looking up watermarking Facebook photos) came across your blog and your book, than purchased for my iPad. My 10th grade son’s honor’s English class has just started, what I consider anticipated, while my son considers a waste of time, reading the play Othello. Amazingly, however, we have had some incredible conversations about the contents of Shakespeare’s written word. When I saw the title of your book, I was completely intrigued and look forward to sharing your work to read over this Christmas break with him. If I am right (okay, Mom usually is), than this may find an appropriate place in the hands of some other students and his classmates and teacher. I already believe it will be the topic of long and somewhat debatable discussions, of which I look forward to with my son. Will let you know! Best Regards!

    • Thanks for your interest and especially your lovely comment. I hope your hunch princess accurate and my book rewards your interest! Do let me know what the response is.

      All best wishes for the holidays.

  5. Something about Shakespeare is that he writes about timeless issues. Jealousy, murder, betrayal etc etc. we need to move past that. If the arts and literature have had any influence on society throughout the ages, then lets forge a new path.

  6. This looks like a really interesting premise. Where exactly could I find this book? I enjoy both Shakespeare and science fiction, this could be something special 🙂

    • Thanks for your interest. Glad you like the sound of the book. It’s currently available as an eBook, for Amazon Kindle and most other platforms – Nook (Barnes & Noble), Kobo, iPhone/iPad (iBooks)… You can also download it in a variety of eBook formats from Smashwords. Take a look for links, etc., as well as further information on the story. I’m also hoping that a print version will be available shortly.

      Hope that answers your question, and a happy new year to you!

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