You can’t fit me into the writer-slaving-away-in-a-garret stereotype. I do a great deal of writing in coffee shops where I can pilfer character traits and dialogue from fellow customers who are unaware that bits of them are being slipped into paragraphs.
Science fiction is my heartland. I didn’t know I’m also a crime writer until The Hunter of the Guileless was nominated for the 1999 Arthur Ellis award. Then I learned from my wife that I’m a horror writer, too. She demanded that I give her fair warning the next time I drop a tale like Going Going in her lap, a story soon to appear in a Dark Tales anthology. Hero, a mainstream drama, is a semi-finalist for this year’s Canadian Short Screenplay Competition.
My first novel is published. Oblivion’s Wake is near-future science fiction. A contemporary fantasy series called Armageddon Boys is off to a great start with Clerk and Dagger going into editing and The Frog of War being written in assorted places that serve coffee.
When I’m not writing, I make computers dance and sing. I’ve created, among other things, data recovery programs that extract your photos and documents even when your computer’s operating system is mangled. My latest software generates secure and memorable passwords, and will be released soon. I also teach the fine art of turning bits and bytes into useful applications.
En route to the 2012 World Fantasy Convention, while marooned in airports, I wrote my first genetic-algorithm application. I’ve also written neural-networking programs—applications which simulate the workings of the brain—because it isn’t enough to have a computer obediently following my wishes; I want it to have the capacity to think for itself.
The future is not just the present with more toys and gadgets. Even a cursory look at history will show that the world of the recent past is different in fundamental ways from the world of today.
It’s far easier to predict future technologies than to predict the ramifications of those technologies. Anyone in 1860 could have predicted the automobile by asking the question: “What would happen if you made a steam engine small enough to fit on a cart?” A futurist with a sense of history and vision would have predicted the more subtle aspects of automobile culture: traffic lights, laws against jaywalking, and losing your virginity in the back seat. A futurist might also look farther down the road, past those initial ideas, to predict that as concern grows around rising prices of fuel, people will opt for smaller vehicles which means their kids are much less likely to lose their virginity in a car because the back seat is too small or doesn’t exist.
My work often looks at the future. While I am creating a story or software, I love to ask: where will we go; what can we expect to find; what are the risks and hazards; and what are the rewards?
The future will not be what we expect. But it will also not necessarily be a scary place. While there will be no magic to solve our problems and no aliens or angels from above to fix them, we will muddle through the way we always have—with human compassion and ingenuity.