When I started writing Opfer in the late eighties, the prevailing sci fi dystopian trope was a nuclear holocaust caused by a despot ‘pressing the button’. Chernobyl had occurred three years earlier, AIDS was rife, and so I believed that a combination of a runaway virus reducing the population to such a level that nuclear power stations would go into meltdown was a more likely scenario. Of course sci fi stories about viruses was nothing new: The Omega Man, Survivors, The Andromeda Strain, for example.

When writing sci fi set in the near future you will always run the risk of your ‘prophecies’ falling foul of fact. If your predictions become reality, that is probably more by luck than judgement! So I was relieved that my predictions have come true, for the most part. I maintained that the Magellan probe, which hadn’t even been launched at that time, would send back the best data on Venus yet – it did. I predicted extensive wind farms which have since been constructed.

One of the most interesting predictions relates to my description of albinos living underground for 500 years. It appears that studies on the flora and fauna from the area around Pripyat have highlighted high incidences of albinism among animals – within 36 years. Even accounting for animals experiencing shorter generations than humans, that is quite remarkable. And I thought I’d allowed myself too much of a flight of fancy! Meanwhile, Covid, the first major pandemic since the Black Death, arrived in 2020, although with a less apocalyptic result than the virus I created in Opfer.

Other predictions are yet to come to pass, and my projected dates are out after the Americans reduced spending on space programmes, although my declaration that the Chinese constructed the first moon base space station, before moving on to Mars, improbable at the time, is looking increasingly likely and, unfortunately, the despot’s finger is currently hovering over the button . . .

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