Friday, February 28, 2014

Bitcoins and Dated Story Details

For those of you who invested in Bitcoins, this may interest you: “In one of the biggest heists in history, Mt. Gox confirmed on Friday it lost nearly $500 million of Bitcoin due to a ‘system weakness,’ forcing the former leading exchange to file for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo.”

 public domain

I am not advising for or against investing in or dumping Bitcoins; I’m actually giving advice on writing. My favorite television show is Almost Human, starring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. (Karl Urban is best known as the new Dr. McCoy, and for fighting Bruce Willis in Reds.) It’s a detective story that takes place decades from now, with Urban as a hard-as-nails detective, and Ealy as the android he’s been saddled with.


photo by Eva Rinaldi 

Although the science fictional details are good (mostly information technology) I mainly like the police procedural aspects of it. They do a good job of building a coherent future that still is enough like our own times that we can appreciate it. Except for the Bitcoins.


photo by pop culture geek 

A few times now, they’ve mentioned Bitcoins in their episodes, including the Bitcoin equivalent of an ATM (or ABM, for those of you in Canada). The problem is that Bitcoins are a popular item now, but we don’t know if they’ll be around in the near future. I don’t mean the more distant future when the story takes place; I mean a few years from now. If the series lasts a few years, they’ll look silly to mention Bitcoins as a monetary unit of the future if it all implodes in a few months.

It might seem like a good idea to write about Teslas as the car of the future. Maybe, maybe not.

In other words, it’s not wise to include something that’s currently all the rage. If you get a book accepted by an editor now, it might be two years before it hits the shelves. You don’t want people to laugh at your page 50 and say, “Wow, last year’s fad.”

Sometimes it’s unavoidable. In a novel I’m still trying to get accepted, the main character is tired of being temporary and wants to become permanent. One of his main reasons is to get insurance. But with all the changes going on with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), I’m having to change the dialog. More than once. But try to avoid including things you know can pan out, no matter how popular they are right now.


Almost Human is on Monday nights at 8:00 in most time zones, on FOX. 

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