Thursday, March 09, 2006

Humanis Rex! And the Future

Humanis Rex! And The Future

With a limited amount of space in which I could tell the story of Humanis Rex! ( around just 50 pages in the regular serialization, and possibly 15 or more pages in the collected edition), there are a lot of futuristic stuff I try to come up with that won't get fleshed out as much as I would like.

Geeks out there most likely saw "How Techies Changed The World" on Discovery Channel hosted by William Shatner. The show demonstrates just how many of the speculative technologies presented in the original series of Star Trek (1966-1968) have eventually become reality. And the people responsible for such technology (like cellphones, medical tools, computer networking, voice commands etc.) have pointed to Star Trek and the speculative technologies presented in the show that inspired them to make such things reality.

It's an objective I try to achieve in Humanis Rex, a story that's supposedly set 350 years in the future of the Philippines. I base a lot of futuristic stuff on current technology and speculate how such technology will evolve through the centuries.

Unfortunately, I could not speculate too much with regards to clothes because believe it or not, it's much MUCH harder to imagine what clothing will be like 300 years from now than what our cellphones would be like. Most previous speculations with regards to futuristic clothing, even in Star Trek, have not held up well. Buck Rogers-y and Flash Gordon-y designs evoke more the past than the future for some reason. Fashions in Star Trek, specially of alien races in the original series (i.e. The Way To Eden, A Taste of Armageddon) are rather embarrassing to see today. Fashion in the 80's was based mostly on a futuristic point of view, and yet 20 years later it's probably the single most embarassing decade in terms of fashion.

Not surprisingly, Star Wars fashion holds up because they evoke either neutral, generic clothing or classical attire based on existing fashions from cultures all over the world.

In this vein, I stuck with contemporary clothing in Humanis Rex, very much the same way that Star Trek: Enterprise did, because I think contemporary, neutral, not overtly challenging fashion-wise designs have more of a chance not to appear dated.

15 years ago, who knew where technology would eventually take us ? Just 15 years ago, there was no Internet they way we know it today. When I wanted to do research, like how would go about knowing what a French revolution horse carriage looked like, I had to go out of the house to buy books, magazines, and so forth. If I wanted to know the anatomical parts of a chicken I would have to do the same. Who knew that the day would come when all you need to do is open the computer, go online, go to or and you can literally find anything imaginable on any subject?

Who knew that one day all people would be carrying wireless phones smaller than the size of wallets, and from such phones you can take pictures, listen to music, do research online, and so much more? I think the leap in technology in the last decade is just stunning, at least from my generation's point of view. I'm sure kids today would find all these things normal and a typical part of everyday life, and could not possibly conceive of a time when we had no such things.

When I was a kid all we had was a small black and white TV with only FIVE channels. They signed on at around 10am, and signed off at around 11 or 12 midnight. Phones were huge lumpy things mounted on the wall that made an annoyingly loud noise. Here in San Pablo our phone number consisted of only FOUR numbers. To write your friends you had to use actual paper and write on that. Put that in an envelope, go to a post office, put a stamp on it, and send it off. If your friend is in the US, wait around a month or so before he or she gets it, and if they reply right away, you may well get the letter at the quickest, a week. Such was the only written communication we had in my day.

Can any of you kids today even imagine living in a world like that? Without email, without faxes (although that is becoming rather dated too), without Cable TV, and without cellphones? I mean, I'm sure many of you break into a cold sweat upon realizing you left your phone at home, and feel like half your world has ended when your phone gets lost or stolen.

Speculating on current technologies, I really believe that one day, everything will literally be implanted into human beings. A microscopic device that includes a phone, computer, camera and Internet will be implanted into humans, directly tapping into the brain. When you want to call someone, all you need to do is think of calling that person and you will, in a matter of seconds. If you want to see Paris Hilton and Jude Law's grandchild's nipple slip on the red carpet of the 180th Oscar Awards, all you need is to think about it, and in an instant the gadget, via its built in micro-cellphone connected to the Internet will access and you will be able to see the pic or video in a filament implanted in front of your eyeballs.

In Humanis Rex!, I call that technology BODYNET, where your entire body acts as a conduit of digital information. The transplant can be placed on any part of the face, as long as it's on the head. Because the bad guys, the Crimeans, want to prevent such technology from propagating, they have banned the use of implants but have nevertheless allowed an external device that people can carry around like huge wristwatches, technology that's obviously outdated by this time, and can only perform a minuscule of tasks compared to what the Bodynet can do. The rebels however, recognize no such restriction and use the Bodynet freely, and with impunity.

Unfortunately, I can't go into much detail about these things in the story itself, but at least I've thought it out and worked it all out. So that when I use bits of it in the story, I know I'm adhering to a reality that's fleshed out and it's not something I just thought up on the spot.

Humanis Rex! comes out monthly on the pages of FUDGE Magazine.