Thursday, September 19, 2013

Researching the future

A scene from my real life, earlier tonight:

"Hey, J___?" I call out from the living room.

"Yeah?" my roommate responds.

"Say you needed to do research on Italy fifty years in the future. How would you go about it?"

"You mean, I'm eighty years old and living in Italy and I need to do research?"

"No, no, no. I mean, today - right now - you need to know what Italy's going to be like fifty years from now. How would you do research on that?"

"Um..." He thinks for a minute. "Well, what is it you need to know about future Italy? I mean, do you need to know what it's going to be like socio-economically?" (I think he made that word up.) "Or, like, culturally?"

The wheels in my brain start spinning. Slow and rusty-like, but spinning nonetheless. "Hm. Good question. But...yeah. Let's say all of that."

"Well I guess the best way to do research on the future is by looking at history. For example, if you looked at pre-World War II Germany to find out what the circumstances were that led to Hitler's rise to power..."

But I've kind of stopped listening at this point - (Shh...don't tell him.) - because he's given me two important pieces of the puzzle to work with. 1) What do I need to know? and 2) What can history tell us about the future?

So here is what I *do* know about the setting for Awakening 3. It takes place in Italy in the year 2062(ish). I know that at some point (twenty years from now? thirty?) Italy engaged in some kind of war, and one of the outcomes was that Rome was basically flattened. I know that people from all over the world came together and donated money to rebuild Rome because they saw it as a global landmark and not just an Italian one. And I know that when they rebuilt Rome, they did it in glass, steel and concrete.

So the questions (i.e. what I need to know as background for the book):
1) What circumstances could lure Italy/the EU into war, and with which country or countries? (Note to self: ask Italian friends about this.)
2) Why might they have rebuilt it in glass, steel and concrete rather than restoring it to its former glory by using stone? (Note to self: ask...architects about this? Do I know any city engineers? Who??)
3) What hallmarks of present-day Italian culture - I'm speaking now of characteristic behaviors and habits of mind - might still be around fifty years from now, despite huge changes to society that will have arisen chiefly as a result of globalization and technological advancements? (One way to get at this might be to find out more about how Italian culture was fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, &/or five hundred years ago to get a sense of what, if anything, survived. But how to get this information? Do I know any Italian sociologists or historians?)

The trick will be to find out enough about these things to feel that the world I'm building has at least a couple layers beneath the surface, but not to spend an inordinate amount of time investigating details that probably won't influence the direction of the story too much.

While we're on the topic of questions, I'll also mention that so far a lot of the work I've done on Awakening 3 has involved figuring out what questions were raised in the first two books that will need to be answered in the third and final book in the Lilly Frank series. Here's what I've got so far:
  • Where did Lilly go & what did she do? How does she recover from her trauma?
  • What happened to Beth, Carrie and Jamie?
  • What is Beth's foundation and what does it do?
  • Who is Vittoria, what does she want, and how does she get it?
  • What is Torren's true name?
  • Who is Torren's Maker? How/why was he made?
  • What the heck is going on with Torren's memory?
  • What is Vittoria's gift and how does it work?
  • How does Torren deal with being bonded to both Vittoria and Lilly? What does that mean for Lilly?
  • What happened to Hugh, Lilly's father?
If you've read Awakening and Awakening 2, what other questions should I be adding to this list? What are the unresolved plot or character points?

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