Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: Planet of the five rings

First contact could take many forms, and in this week’s Futures, Marissa Lingen explores one such potential outcome in her story Planet of the five rings. Regular readers will know Marissa’s work (for the uninitiated, a list of her other Futures stories is at the foot of this post). If you’d like to explore her universe further, you should head to her website or follow her on Twitter. Here, Marissa reveals the inspiration behind her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing Planet of the five rings

We’re sending it all out there.

That’s how the electromagnetic spectrum works, TV as much as anything else. Out it goes. And as anyone who has ever been around a toddler knows, they pick up what you don’t know you’re showing them at least as much as what you hope you’re teaching them. On one occasion, a 15-month-old I know produced the word “Al-coholic!” just when his parents really, really wished he wouldn’t. (Honey, don’t tell Grandma … okay, too late, well, we’ll be dealing with how you learnt that one I guess.)

So it’s a big Universe, and we’re teaching it the things about us that we want it to know, the Brandenburg Concertos and so many lovely things we’ve figured out how to do with pigment. We’re teaching it the horrors of war and the relief of peace. We’re showing it how we react to natural disaster.

How we report sport may be one of the most patterned and repetitive things we’re giving the cosmos. The rote conversations of the introductory language textbook have nothing on the interviews for sporting events. And then *you* say … and then *she* says …

I don’t know who’s paying attention, but I hope they like women’s ice hockey. That’s my favourite.

Other Futures stories by Marissa Lingen

Running safety tips for humansThe most important thingThe many media hypothesisBoundary watersMaxwell’s Demon went down to GeorgiaThe stuff we don’t doUnsolved logistical problems in time travel: spring semesterEntanglementQuality controlSearch stringsAlloy

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