February 25, 2018
A Little Dingus
Writers often have a problem describing technology that doesn’t exist yet, especially if that’s not really the point of the story.
One film I’ve had on my mind with the “future” elements of my new novel is Marjorie Prime, a film with an AI (Jon Hamm) that’s holographic and learns through conversation. What I like about it the most is how it treats the explanation of the technology:
There’s very little in Marjorie Prime that explains how the holo-technology works; Tim Robbins’s character admits at one point that he hasn’t read the brochure. But even this works as part of the story. Miraculous inventions have become part of our lives, and have certainly changed us, just as much as people have. The transference of emotion from the real to the programmable—a sort of technology most of us hardly understand—may not be so far off after all.
The third Act of “I Know Your Real Name Now” takes place in the future. Not too far. Maybe 10-15 years? Long enough that I’m not confident what technology will look like, but not so long that I think our attitudes will have changed much. So I think my characters are just going to use my favourite term for gadgets: a little dingus. Unlike Majorie Prime, I’m not writing a serious piece here. It’s supposed to be fun (and a little sad and pathetic, whomp whomp).
I think “Little dingus” is a good shorthand for “future technology” that’s both pithy and a little funny while also letting people imagine whatever it is. It could be a watch or in his glasses or wherever. The technology itself will mostly be invisible in the “future” part of this book, but everyone will still look at it like it’s a bit silly.
She loved slow sex. It wasn’t boring. It was a bit like yoga, something meditative. Banks felt her own body as much as she felt mine. She was creating electricity. and it lasted a bit longer. She’d finish in this position and I wouldn’t, but she’d get me off afterwards with her hand, her mouth lowering as I got close. This was generosity, practicality. We febreezed after, went out to the balcony for a cigarette, and came back to finish the wine and the movie.
“Why don’t movies have intermissions anymore?” she said. “people have to pee during these three hour slogs. They don’t sell any liquid under a litre, and they expect you to just sit there,” she exhaled, blowing a short puff of smoke out to the stars.
“Uncivilized,” I agreed.
“The toilet is beginning to clog again,” she said.
Her mind worked like this. I didn’t know how to take it other than to think that sex was just another chore to get through, something that had to be done or else, like the toilet, it would begin to malfunction and we’d have to call in a pro. We’d had to do that once or twice in the past. It was expensive, and disappointing, and each time we thought “that’s it? We could have done that ourselves.” But we didn’t, because we couldn’t.
It was also possible that the thought had just randomly come into her head, and I shouldn’t take it so personally.
“Hall,” she said. “You should put that in your little dingus.”
I told my little dingus to remind me.