Technology Gone Awry

The writing prompt for this week is: Include a piece of technology that goes berserk. I love this one because it could really be anything. At first glance, it might sound like it has to be science fiction. But technology has existed since humans created the first tool.

What then could go wrong with the technology? In every age throughout history, things go wrong with the latest in modern advances. Whether that is a simple stone dagger used by a caveman, or the most sophisticated AI of the future, things can always go wrong. The stone dagger breaks during a crucial battle. An intelligent space ship malfunctions and turns off the life support. Things go wrong.

This makes me wonder what sort of things might go wrong with technology in my own novels. Mostly I write fantasy fiction with a medieval-type setting. Technology consists of things such as lyres, horse-drawn carts, swords, and siege engines.

I have a science fiction novel I’m working on that involves kidnapping, espionage and intrigue on an intergalactic stage. Guns, bombs, spaceships. With a little magic thrown in for good measure. Now, what could possibly go wrong with technology like that?

Then there are my middle grade adventures that are based in the current day world with current day tech like cell phones, tablets and skateboards. Skateboards may be “low tech,” but things can still go wrong.

How then, do I include a piece of technology gone bad? The prompt seems to imply that the technology itself goes berserk, like a robot with a short circuit issue or AI that goes rogue. But what if it is the human element behind the technology that has gone bad?

I had some fun with this prompt, playing a little “what if?” game to explore the various technologies in my novels. For this exercise I chose to stick to low tech gadgets such as a skateboard belonging to one of my boys from the Silver Compass Adventures, and the lute played by the bard in one of my fantasy novels. This led to imagining a variety of scenarios ranging from humorous to embarrassing to downright disastrous. Some of these ideas could even end up in one of my novels someday.

This is where writing is a lot of fun. If a prompt isn’t exactly working for you, build on it, move beyond it, play around with it and make it something that works for you and your writing. I challenge you to create your own “what if” scenarios involving the technology in your own writing, whatever that might be. Have fun with it and see where it takes you. I guarantee it, the ride will be worth it.

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