Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Memories to come

Paul Alex Gray makes his debut in Futures this week with his story Memories to come. When Paul’s not writing stories he can be found at his website or on Twitter. Here, he reveals some of the thought processes that went into creating his latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing Memories to come

Consider a child hosting a ‘tea party’ with their toys: teddy bears and stuffies sitting in a circle, tiny plastic plates and tea cups set before them. The child, politely takes requests and serves imaginary cookies and sweets. We have an inherent desire to simulate reality: to create scenarios, establish rules, norms and behaviours, and to enact these.

This continues into the digital realm, with simulation-like experiences being one of the most popular video-game genres. From Sim City to Second Life to Minecraft, people happily create new worlds, filled with people, places and things. Some of these worlds can be almost as richly detailed and imagined as parts of our real world.

With technology giants investing in augmented-reality and virtual-reality technologies, we’re seeing a glimpse of the future. It doesn’t seem that far off that we’ll be able to put on a headset, slip on some haptic gloves and go out to explore someplace entirely new.

These imagined worlds will become more complex, intricate and immersive. We’ll be told that anything is possible, that we can step out into ancient history to see pyramids being built, set sail on the high seas or venture forth into new galaxies. The messaging is one of optimism and excitement for new discoveries and utopias.

Yet real life is never perfect. Many people face or have faced traumatic or difficult experiences and live with fear, regret, anger or sorrow. For someone experiencing the pain of grief, whose effects may never truly be overcome … What world would they create? Something new? Or something lost.

 If you could choose to live within an imagined world — or the real one — which would you choose?

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