Hillary, The Donald, And The Politics Of The Future

Trump on a velociraptor and waving a flag.

This is from Jim Kirk’s history book at Riverside Elementary

Not too long ago on the Space Opera: Writers group on Facebook, one writer asked if the current election would affect our writing. How much impact would a Trump or Clinton presidency impact our work set in the distant future?

The general consensus, with a surprising lack of ideological rancor, was not much.

Certainly, the world situation affects whatever is written at a given time. Star Trek was originally optimistic but with a Cold War-like backdrop. On the other hand, the rebooted Battlestar Galactica took its cues from 9/11. But the present day altering what’s already in progress?

Let’s take the Compact Universe. I began writing it in 2013. It was a very different world than today. And that’s just three years ago. But Obamacare does not affect what I wrote. Putin’s bizarre moves in the Black Sea don’t really have an impact. The Earth of the Compact Universe is affected by the present day only in broad strokes. Unless you count on a Mars landing happening on a certain date (Remember, Elon Musk tends to be a few years off in his predictions.), the present day invalidating your imagined future implies a lot bigger problems than why no one remembers Khan Noonien Singh during the 1990s.

Starship Troopers

“We need a wall! And make the bugs pay for it!” TriStar Pictures

Dates might be affected. Look at Heinlein or Asimov, predicting interplanetary or even interstellar travel by the present day, but the far future is its own thing. Paul Verhoeven’s satirical take on Starship Troopers remains unaffected by Monica Lewinsky, 9/11, or the insistence of Kim Jong Un of acting out Team America: World Police. In the distant future, alien bugs could very well throw rocks at us from afar. (Would you like to learn more?)

The trick is not to marry yourself to current events. Take inspiration from them, yes. Star Trek Beyond will still make sense to audiences long after ISIS has evaporated. Decide to write a screed about the far future consequences of a Trump presidency should The Donald win in November, and you could find your story laughably out of date by Inauguration Day.

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