Once upon a time, I wrote a story that had as a major plotpoint an advanced computer. This computer was faster, smarter and had more memory capacity than any modern computer. I published the book. And life was good.
But three years later, I looked at the book and realized that its highly advanced capabilities weren’t that far advanced from the modern computers that had developed in those three years in the real world. Mildly embarrassed, I rewrote the book and updated the specs of my supercomputer to be significantly faster than the computers of that day.
Two years later, I discovered that computers had again advanced so quickly as to have almost matched the supercomputer in my story. I dutifully updated my story again, to stay ahead of the computer curve.
Three years later, modern computers had almost caught up with my story again. Finally seeing the electrons on the wall, I took the book out of circulation. I had been soundly defeated by Moore’s Law, the surprisingly accurate statement by Gordon Moore that computer capabilities would double roughly every 2 years.
Many writers of science fiction have discovered that futuristic elements of their stories sometimes get lapped by modern life, often depending on how far into the future their story is set. Those who have set their stories just a few years into the future experience this lapping more often than others… but it can even happen in stories set hundreds or thousands of years into the future, when a writer doesn’t take into account some little bit of technology that becomes a huge game-changer, sometimes sabotaging their story irrevocably. I finally understood that it hadn’t been wise to base a major element of my book on such a rapidly-moving target as computer capability.
In case you’re curious, the book was entitled Factory Orbit. (Yes, it needs an updated cover, too. Shut up.) Over the years I’ve given thought to rewriting the book, as I think the main premise, the privately-built orbital factory and R&D facility, is still a good one; it’s the details that need to be revised, which means a new storyline, tweaks to the characters and new motivations/action/arcs. Really, we’re not talking about a revised book, but a brand new one, with a radically different plot, focus and outcome.
I’d come to that conclusion when I was looking at the story as the basis for a possible TV series. Series require either a long-term or open-ended overall plot, to allow it to run for the requisite number of episodes/seasons to make it viable. The series project is no longer in play, but the same story strategems could be carried over to the new book.
Once I finish updating the Kestral series (which should be done by end of 2018), rewriting Factory Orbit is high on my list of next projects to tackle. I’ve even started to assemble elements that I want to include in the new book, when I have moments between Kestral revisions.
I don’t expect this to be a swift process. But hopefully, when I’m done with the new book, I won’t be rewriting it again; it will be able to stand on its own and age gracefully.