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Many books retell the past, but what about predicting the future? Fortune-telling, author style.

Updated: Jun 6

Live-streaming event organiser, HOST, has found a way to bring the 'World Community Games' into everyone's homes. Athletes from around the globe can take part in the race of their lives without the need for spectator travel or mass gatherings.



Be nice if this were true, wouldn't it? The Olympics back on. Dreams and four years of training fulfilled. Nations supporting their teams. Individuals able to follow every event without breaking quarantine.


Unfortunately, it's not really happening. This is something I made up two years ago, and which has been cooking in the depths of my brain for half a dozen years. It's actually the plot of my newly-published book, SWAGG 1, Spook, which came out during the time that it was decided the Olympic Games 2020 could not go ahead.



It really only struck home how uncanny this is when I saw the brilliantly created-and-exercised W1A clip on their 'Initial Lockdown Meeting' where they discuss the potential to just re-run the 2012 Olympics - or perhaps even the whole of 2012, or some other good year. As someone who doesn't "like to be negative or anything points out, this year hasn't been up to much, has it?"


But as they were discussing it, I realised that my SWAGG - Spook premise more or less does this. Viewers would still be at home watching the (equivalent of) the Olympics. Live-streamed, race-by-race and event by event, from athlete to supporter.


I also recalled the many times I've heard about an invention or techno development, only to think: 'Hang on. I wrote that in Jane Blonde X.'


Re-telling of history, from personal histories through local minuteae to global disasters, is part of the writer's stock-in-trade. I love history and have my own takes on certain events from the past and how they impact on the present. But just as Dean Koontz and Scott Burns 'predicted' a pandemic, so it seems that the writer's tool of working with 'What if...' can also help foretell what is yet to come.


It's perhaps not that surprising when many writers of fiction, myself included, have moments of 'channelling' or 'download', when ideas, characters, conversations, even whole series with global impact (yes, you, Harry Potter) appear unbidden in a quiet moment. Sometimes they're seen as inspiriation; often they're ignored.


What we don't tend to do once we're in the writing flow, however, is ask 'Where did that come from?' We assume it's our mind - but what if it's not? What if it's prescience of some kind? Or what if it is from our mind but we know so little about the brain's true capacity that we could all be foretelling - and avoiding - future calamaties if only we knew how.


In Elizabeth Gilbert's book on creativity, Big Magic (which I adore and highly recommend!) she describes a moment where she and another author passed an idea on through a kiss on the cheek. I love that notion: that an idea might flit around, hoping for somewhere to alight, waiting for the person who is ready to take on the responsibility of transforming it from idea to some kind of reality.


And if you're not ready? It moves on to find someone who is. J.K. Rowling, when asked if she considers herself lucky, said "I was lucky to have the idea." And how lucky it was for the idea, too, that it chanced upon a woman on a train, watching the world slide by through rain-drizzled windows, in a moment where she was ready to pick up a magical gauntlet.


My own 'future forecasts' have been mainly in the form of gadgets that I invented for my girl spy character, Jane Blonde. While they've yet to come up with a 'Wower', a spy shower that can transform you from zero-to-hero or even yuck-to-yesss! in moments flat, I've seen many things that I thought were in my head (e.g. Ultra-gog glasses) actually appear on people's heads.


Most of my SPI-buys-turned-real are courtesy of Apple, and I do wonder what amazing stories Steve Jobs might have invented if he'd gone a different route with his love of fonts. It just shows, though, that it's not just writers who are visited by the idea fairies. It could be an artist, a sculptor, a musician.


But it might also be others who thing big - Richard Branson, for instance. His supersonic flight plans are not a whole lot different to the SatiSPI I 'invented' back in 2005. In fact, if Elon Musk or someone can create transport that can tunnel through the planet like Jane Blonde's ESPIdrills, I'd like to book a ticket from Auckland to London pronto, please.


In all cases, though, it seems to be these individuals' combination of far-sighted vision, capitalising on advances in technology and a fairly audacious approach to life that makes these things happen. They'd all make great fictional characters, and I'm sure the re-telling of the history of these lives will bear this out.


But in the meantime, what do we do about these predictions by authors?


I think there's only one answer: more writers in government.


Dean Koontz for President, anyone?



(Like Steve Jobs, Jill Marshall has launched her most recent creation from her garage - an online publishing platform for virus-avoidant ebooks, flipbooks and paperbacks. Go to www.jillmarshallbooks.com for more.)




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