Futuristic science fiction.

Trying to predict the future is simply not sensible; the wretched future generally refuses to behave as you wish. However, writing futuristic science fiction should not be an attempt to predict the future. H. G. Wells, in his time machine story, used his chosen futures to illustrate social problems of his own time. An alternative is to explore the consequences of some action that might take place, not because the author thinks that will happen, but rather because it will act as a warning, perhaps, of what not to do. In some ways, this idea corresponds to the physicist’s gedanken experiment, where the experiment is carried out in the mind with imagined equipment that works perfectly, and whatever happens carries some sort of explanation or illustrates some point that the physicist wants to make. So it is with SF stories. One purpose of them is to raise issues that the reader may not have considered.

Of course a novel is not the place to preach or harangue, but one can give food for thought in the background. One example that I have tried relates to current economics. Thus in my ebook trilogy First Contact a number of countries had merged to form a Federation. For that to work, all citizens must follow Federal law and regulations, the purpose of which was to provide uniformity of opportunity for all citizens. It is important that citizens in one part have to be able to behave in the same way as somewhere else. On the other hand, it is helpful if countries could continue more or less as they had before, at least initially, so that the desired common behaviour arises by desire and not through force.

Economic management becomes a real problem because, as Europe is currently learning, you cannot successfully run a common currency with several independent economic policies. My suggestion in my novels was that the average citizen continued to use dollars, marks etc, and these currencies might change value according to supply and demand. However, major industrial or national transactions were always paid in Federation Currency Units. That latter concept was designed to ensure the member countries could have moderately different economic policies while remaining in the Federation. Had something like this been employed in the EU, it might have saved the EU from the huge problems generated by countries like Greece pursing an economic policy that was incompatible with some of the others. One cannot have a common currency with various economic policies, but it is very difficult to persuade an assortment of different countries to have a common policy, because that will favour one or two of them, at the expense of others.

Joining countries together is not an easy matter. The reason they were separate in the first place usually led to individual cultures, and different ways of life. Such differences are difficult to simply overcome, for example the Greek way of life is quite different from that of the Germans, and these differences, together with the historical availability of resources have led to entirely different ways of going about making a living. By itself, that should not be a problem, but it soon becomes one if they have a common currency but without a common economic “policy”, as Greece has discovered.

I make no claim to having found a solution, and in practice that might not work, but by writing stories around such problems, perhaps people can be persuaded to think about them.