Need a Future? Look at the Past

Need a Future? Look at the Past

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From Star Trek to Red Rising, if you’re trying to craft a believable fictional future the key is to look at historical patterns that repeat—and for the things that never seem to change. Star Trek pulled heavily from 18th and 19th-century naval traditions for its design and culture, Star Wars drew inspiration and design elements from old 1930s serials, and Red Rising imagined a future where the elites reached back to Ancient Rome for their iconography. You see it in the details too—like when Westworld imagines its tech paradise future but realizes that people still use French Presses for better coffee even when you can have a cup by pressing a button. In this OnDemand webinar, Jeff Somers discusses how to use real history as a template for your futures (and even your fantasy settings), and how to spot the Constants that never change even when technology surpasses them, and how using these Constants grounds your universe in ways readers can identify with, increasing their sense of verisimilitude and their suspension of disbelief.


Jeff Somers ( began writing by court order as an attempt to steer his creative impulses away from engineering genetic grotesqueries. His feeble memory makes every day a joyous adventure of discovery and adventure even as it destroys personal relationships, and his weakness for adorable furry creatures leaves him with many cats. He has published nine novels, including the Avery Cates series of noir-science fiction novels from Orbit Books (, the darkly hilarious crime novel Chum from Tyrus Books, and most recently tales of blood magic and short cons in the Ustari Cycle, including the novel We Are Not Good People and the novellas Fixer, The Stringer, Last Best Day, and The Boom Bands from Pocket Gallery ( He has published over 30 short stories, including “Ringing the Changes,” which was selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2006, “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through,” which appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris, and “Three Cups of Tea,” which appeared in the anthology Hanzai Japan. He also writes about books for Barnes and Noble and and about the craft of writing for Writer’s Digest, which also published his book on the craft of writing, Writing Without Rules, in 2018. He lives in Hoboken with his wife, The Duchess, and their cats. He considers pants to always be optional.

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