Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: A beginner’s guide to space travel and seafood

This week, Futures is pleased to offer some advice to early adopters courtesy of Steven Fischer and his incredibly useful story A beginner’s guide to space travel and seafood. Regular readers will know that Steven has previously introduced us to The First Fragmented Church of Entropy as well as guided us through the syntax of Query, Queue, Repeat. When not writing, Steven is a medical resident in the Pacific Northwest. You can find out more about his works of fiction by visiting his website or following him on Twitter. Here, Steven reveals the origins of his latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing A beginner’s guide to space travel and seafood

I’ve always been a late adopter. I didn’t buy my first smartphone until 2014. My watch can’t do anything other than tell time. My friends make fun of me because I’m barely midway through my twenties, but I own less tech than my father-in-law. Part of that is because I’m a cheapskate (I prefer the word ‘thrifty’, but let’s not kid ourselves), the other part is because I’m playing the game.

There’s a fundamental strategic question to adopting new technology in a world of ever-quickening progress: if I wait a little longer something even better will be available.

That’s not a big deterrent for most people when it comes to a gadget like a phone or a smartwatch, because those pieces of technology take almost no time to implement. But when we’re talking more durable goods (like spaceships or self-driving cars) it can be a huge incentive.

On the one hand everyone wants the newest and best, but if the newest and best isn’t very new or very good by the time you get it home and learn to actually use it, why not wait a little longer and buy the next edition?

The obvious answer is that if everyone thought that way, then no one would adopt new technology at all. Eventually you just have to jump in and go for it, recognizing you’re always going to be behind the ball. That said, there is an unmistakable benefit to not being the first penguin into the sea. So, to all the early adopters out there, thanks for being more courageous than me, and for working out all the bugs by the time new products fall into my *ahem*, ‘thrifty’, hands.


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