Holly Schofield writes a thoughtful piece about one possible future of our digital world in “Graveyard Shift.”
CA: “Graveyard Shift” is about a moral dilemma. Why did you choose to explore it through the aspects Asian tradition?
I knew I wanted to write about the soul-crushing debt that post-secondary students are incurring now and how that may worsen in the future. By adding in a cultural challenge, I was able to increase the struggle of the main character, Ryan, and deepen the story.
Like many young Canadians, 23-year-old Ryan precariously straddles two worlds. He’s a child of mainstream urban Canada, with all its peer pressure, capitalism, and emphasis on a unique sense of self. And he was raised in a traditional Asian multigenerational household, with its sometimes conflicting components: an unyielding respect for elders, a severe work ethic, and a unified sense of family.
Ryan’s ability to choose which of the two culture’s many elements to apply to his growing set of problems is essential to the story.
CA: You story deals with a near and very possible future where the effects of automation and a global village are wiping out the need for certain jobs. In some ways, it’s what happened when the Industrial Revolution happened. Do you think we’re going to go through more of these industrial bumps? Is there a chance for people to be assimilated into new jobs or will we end up with a leisure society?
History is full of speed bumps. I don’t see that changing. Our current challenges include technology’s effect on jobs, the uneven division of wealth, and the increasing need for life-long learning. In this story, Ryan has chosen an educational path that is perhaps no longer appropriate and needs to adjust his expectations accordingly—a familiar feeling to anyone applying for jobs in our post-2008 world.
The line between work and leisure may well blur as technology advances. Even ten years ago, it was almost impossible to imagine a job in the social media field, yet now that’s a burgeoning employment sector.
The key, in both real life and in the story, is flexibility. Does Ryan have enough transferable job skills to cope? Readers will have to learn for themselves.
CA: You mentioned that you hope to save the world through science fiction. Whether serious or not about that statement, do you believe that writing SF can make a difference?
I’m certainly hoping it can. I know that reading SF has made a difference in how I perceive the world and where our civilization is headed.
It’s proven that reading fiction, any fiction, measurably enhances our abilities to empathize with other people. Levels of emotional engagement rise in the long-term, compared to non-fiction readers.
Something not yet proven, but I tend to believe, is that SF readers have even more of that engagement and, even better, an understanding of the real potential of humankind. In my own case, watching the original Star Trek on TV as a child–seeing that imaginary future world without poverty, where humans can satisfy their need to simply explore–gave me a “big picture” view of how wonderful our civilization can be. Thousands of SF stories later, I’m sure I do see the world in a different way than a reader who has never ventured outside of mainstream fiction.
I would like to impart some of that optimism in my own fiction.
CA: What’s your next project?
I tend to work on several stories at once. Soon-to-be-published stories involve Alberta petroglyphs, a wimpy superhero, and a garbage-collecting cyborg. Stories in progress feature a brain-augmented cat, a woman who mind-melds with eagles, and a castle built by a time traveller. Keep checking hollyschofield.wordpress.com (http://hollyschofield.wordpress.com/) for upcoming publications.
Holly Schofield has several publications in the online magazines, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review and Perihelion. Her work will soon appear in three anthologies: Tesseracts 17, Oomph: A Little Super Goes A Long Way, and The Future Embodied.
She travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of a prairie farmhouse and her writing cabin on the west coast.
She plans to save the world with science fiction stories and home-grown heritage tomatoes.