The Dangers of Technology… but not in the way you think

I started reading Disclosure by Michael Crichton today, and discovered that there is a danger in referencing technology in your writing.  More than any other thing, technology dates you.

I got two chapters in and had to stop to check the copyright date, because my immediate thought was “What date was this written?!”  The company in the book is a cutting-edge tech company, which is fine, but they are breaking ground with their CD-ROMs and Virtual Reality equipment.

That’s right, CDs that store data are the wave of the future.

Sentences like the following are somewhat out of date: “It was widely agreed in the business that all information was soon going to be digital, and much of it was going to be stored on these compact disks.”   There are also references to books on data cd (which has long been replaced by the e-reader) and the new, cutting edge field of virtual reality (which hasn’t really panned out the way it was thought).

Once I got into the mindset of early 90s (the book was published in 1993) it was much easier to fall into the story, but occasionally things will still bring me up short if I’m not careful.  I know that writing without technology references is a luxury for historical fiction and fantasy authors, and sometimes the reader two decades later is not your concern, but perhaps this is a good moment to toss in a tiny word of caution when setting up something totally new and revolutionary to be such in your book.   It won’t stay that way for long.


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