Fiction Friday- Monologues

For the majority who don’t know – my research has been focused recently on the monologue. It’s known for having a loose definition and as such, not much has been written on it academically. There’s the aside, the apostrophe, the solliquoy, the dramatic monologue, the dialectic monologue, the dialogic monologue, monologue to absent other and so on, with its multiplicity of function being just as varied.

However, there is a common thread – that the monologue places the self at the centre stage of the show, no matter how the “self” is portrayed. In this vein, I have written SF monologues to focus on character and how they see externally the results of certain tropes. I have performed 2 recently – one with the Purpureus Writers at the Centre for Creative Collaboration (3 Degrees) and at a reading with Ben Markovits at Gower Street in London (Mercurial Harbour). If anyone wants to hear some and are around, I’ll let you know via Twitter or will post in here. Without further ado, have a look here for the intro to my collection – I’ve planned about 12 monologues so far!

The Future from all angles

Science Fiction has always been about exploring mind bending concepts, big ideas, extrapolations into the future that makes us think about our present and so on. That’s not new. However, there is this tendency to think towards the nostalgic – torn between the hopes of furthering our progeny star-ward between the evils and privacy invasion that technology will provide here on Earth. It’s like a very odd tennis match going on as eyes ping-pong between what could be and what shouldn’t be. What used to be a constantly forward looking genre has been criticised for being a self-sustained system.

Articles like “The Widening Gyre” and “Science Fiction without the Future” have picked up on this, as well as many other sources. The Guardian article on SF titles for SF haters has racked up an impressive number of those advocating the Golden Age favourites – the Heinlein, the Clarke, the Asimov etc. and whilst these undoubtedly have their merits – what can we say about the case of Science Fiction today?

I tutor 11+ and have taught Science Fiction writing to GCSE age students this year. It’s interesting to see what they think of the genre – I brainstormed with each group in different schools about what they thought the genre was about and what it had to say. You can see the post that I wrote about the experience here.

The important message here is that they’re not scared of the information age. Why should they? They’ve grown up with it. What scares them is being disconnected from the link, an absence rather than presence of what we may see as the looming grid. It’s their confidante, their sounding board, their teacher – however dangerous it may seem to us.

From what I’ve seen from tutoring and researching digital natives for my copywriting job, this fear is only in our minds. Take the average 10/11 year old of today. She/he watches ads – company videos that the internet has told them specifically to watch in order to collect points or some form of imaginary currency. These help them to unlock something in a game or purchase something online that they normally would have to beg their parents to buy for them. In other words, it gives them a false sense of “agency”. When I heard this, I was rather shocked, but they seem to do this without batting an eyelid. They are absorbing this information and being “paid” for it. Even if they don’t remember what they’ve watched, it’ll be stored somewhere in their memory. I asked a girl if she was worried by what she was doing. She told me that it was just normal. Something everyone does.

Does anyone remember Neopets? I was a little too old when this came out, but I remember knowing that there were “job offices”. You would apply to watch ads or collect certain items for their Neopoints. It’s not a new concept as such but to think it’s seen as normal nowadays to do this – children waiting for ads to appear just so they can buy a hat for their character worries me a little. That’s just a drop in the ocean, of course, as to what the internet can really do.

Therefore, if we need to write scenarios that will appeal to the up and coming generation, we have to embrace the technology ourselves. See what it is that magnetically draws them to something we may see as horrific and invasive.

Cuckoos and Chrysalids, a play that I’m currently redrafting, is about a woman who has stored her children indefinitely in cyberspace, waiting for the “right time” to activate them. She feels that this space is safe enough to even go as far as preserving her bloodline and only falters when she tears herself away from the grid as she is criticised for exceeding her data limit. In a space where the rules are constantly being redrawn, it’s a debate between the older and newer generations – even though many of the characters use the technology themselves for other reasons. It all boils down to whether you can trust humanity to do the right thing.

I’m writing a short play about someone who, in a future riot, decides to forego the internet entirely, hiding in a looted house. Because of the false information fed to the public via these feeds, she decides to rely on her instincts entirely – ignoring the consequences.

Of course, writing about the fears of technology is something we can do quite readily. But what we may have to do, as writers, is to imagine ourselves in the mindset of our children or our younger generation if we wish to reach out to them.

Gardens and dandelion seeds

What I worry about when I post these things, is that 1)they can be misconstrued and 2)people often connect someone talking about their own life as something self-indulgent and therefore juvenile. Therefore we tend to wrap it up in obliqueness, hypothesize it or add in a sneaky reversal so that it’s an advice column. It’s about you, not me.

I’m going to be self indulgent and maybe that’s being juvenile. Maybe being introspective is (weirdly) juvenile.

Maybe juvenile is not the worst thing you can be.

Many people have been asking me over the past 4 years (precisely that) what I’m doing with my life. Sure, I’ve worked in numerous places and studied and performed (solo and in groups) and have good memories of those. But people always ask me – and what?

And what?

Is it the need to tend my own garden? Or is it the scary shed near the back that I don’t want to enter?

Is there a part of me missing that I need to have filled? If we’re talking about relationships, then that abyss isn’t new. I stare into it most days. Then what, then? Is it the reassurance that I can be loved, is that it? The thing is with text is that some people might read this in an angry tone. On the contrary. It’s neutral bordering on confusion. I honestly don’t know.

I’ve had good experiences, bad experiences and downright nightmare experiences that I don’t want to encounter again (one of my plays touches on this in quite a personal way – I’m not telling you which one!). It feels like a huge investment and maybe something I can’t bring myself to make. There are some other issues too. Some old and some new.

Well, if it’s not that, then maybe it’s a far away future plan that I lack? I hate planning far into the future. It’s this whole investment idea again. The things I do invest in are the things I am utterly passionate about. I’ve made the mistake of doing so with things that I wasn’t wholeheartedly sure about and they soon collapsed.

It becomes more apparent as I grow older and the leeway to drift seems smaller. I am young though (ish). Things like this are always relevant when it’s around my birthday. Nothing new. I just worry sometimes that even though I do get on with my lot, I wish I were a little more forthright with expressing myself. When you keep your head down, you have to come up for air at times.

I am content for the most part, so no worries on that score.

Take it for what you will, if you do choose to read this!