Editorial – April 2018: ‘We read books, so you don’t have to’ Scariest words you’ll ever read.

April 2, 2018 | By | 2 Replies More

‘We read books, so you don’t have to’

Scariest words you’ll ever read.

Hello everyone

There’s been a lot of speculation that serious reading is dying out. I presume they mean the paper or celluloid variety but still some sort must still be going on over the Internet unless everything is going emoji and only reading star ratings. Maybe not but at least on-line where so much is scanned than properly read, it’s easy to get into a bad habit of not reading properly which I think is. With the amount of text we do on SFC, I think I can presume I’m communicating with a generation that still likes to read.

At least, I hope so. I presume you’re not reading the opening and last line of each paragraph which is the old speed-reading trick that misses out the content. I haven’t heard of anyone doing much of that lately. I read about that in my teens and found I was even faster reading everything. Nor are you looking for words that stand out that link someone else. Good thing I don’t go the caps route or you’d think I was shouting. Hopefully, you’re hanging on my every word and reading properly and not relying on TXT with no vowels. Tht lks slly.

Even so, that’s one aspect of the future that no SF author has ever considered…well, at least not consciously, is that everyone is going to give up reading books in any format. After all, who would write books if that happened? Saying that, when was the last time you read any recent SF story where the characters in it read or even quoted from a book? That isn’t just in our genre, but other genres as well. Fictional characters don’t have time to read books and they all mostly seem to have the same level of education. Although I doubt it was ever done intentionally and that there has never been any subconscious triggers to induce people not to read. Granted that in an adventure, stopping for a quick read isn’t likely to happen but there’s usually some place to show that they have some rest time.

However, with so much of our lives mimicking fiction, should we be surprised that reading books might become a thing of the past? At least for some people. I do hope it’s not completely widespread or we will lose our literacy.

If not literature and non-fiction, then there is far more evidence that people are using the Internet as their memory storage than learning anything. After all, why memorise something that is only a button press away? Even so, without the knowledge of what you’re looking for, how do you find it? If the teachers come up from the same, how would they get their knowledge? More likely rely on a syllabus created before this change. This could even make a good Science Fiction plot except it might be happening for real. Do we really want to be the last generation with some sort of formal education where we actually use our brains? A person without knowledge can be easily manipulated by business and government and ‘1984’ would have arrived, albeit a couple decades late but within the SF reality we currently live in. Is that the price of free will? We weren’t coerced into it but went voluntarily??!!

What would really happen though? I mean, celebrity currently rules the Net. Although the Net is supposed to be clear of government controls, I doubt everyone believes that when the likes of the NSA monitors Internet traffic. They might not analyse all the information they collect but they bring a different dimension to back-up. Need I also remind you all of the advertising manipulation of the social websites recently? It isn’t difficult to manipulate people. It’s rather too easy and you don’t need that many of a population to do it with in democratic societies. The same applies to the government controlled hackers. Those who control the information you receive can change what you believe if you can’t tell what is real or fake? Think about that when your country’s server denies you access to other legitimate websites across the world. I’ve mentioned that before I’ve come across such things in the past although a quick check recently has found that changed but only a little. Even so, some countries, including democracies, sometimes in the name of copyright, don’t allow world-wide access and I doubt it’s done to protect their citizens but to keep free information out. Even so, if the likes of the Dark Net is out there, what else is hidden from the normal gaze?

The Internet might not have been developed for such things but it’s so flexible that it can be bent to any company or government’s wishes, even to the point of keeping other country’s info out as witnessed by the likes of China. Knowledge is not only power but denial, especially without knowing its being denied, even more so.

While I was writing this editorial, I did start to wonder if there was anything the Internet didn’t have. It doesn’t have infinite knowledge but relies on the information put into it and if it isn’t there, then there are gaps. Using the Net to solve mathematical problems still depends on how much knowledge you have to work out what you need. Unless, for example, you can tell the differences between the various triangles you’d be sunk. Last year, I solved a trigonometry problem for my brother simply from my knowledge of imaginary numbers and that any splitting the larger triangle would still give the same angle in a smaller triangle. You would be hard pushed to do that or find it without the right knowledge or how to discriminate.

I doubt if knowledge will stay free on the Net if that’s the only source. People do need to eat and you will end up having to pay them for their knowledge or access their websites. Think about on-line TV and so forth. It’s already happening. True, a lot of sites have sunk from lack of funding that way but that won’t happen forever. Once you get into the habit of relying on paying for what you want on the Net, free websites become suspect not the norm and trust is thrown out the window.

If you relied on Google to find the relevant photos of a particular subject, how many of the other photos do you have to wade through and can you tell the difference. If anything, there is too much misinformation and without knowing your subject you are likely to be misdirected or give the wrong knowledge. The Internet might be developing AIs but when it comes to discerning knowledge, they have a long way to go, especially when it’s based on popular hits than relevance or truthfulness. Then, what the hey, who’s going to want to look up anything anymore or even when you do, not know who is telling you about it? ‘Ignorance is bliss’ is surely likely to turn into the most accepted slogan.

Discerning knowledge from opinion, let alone from bias or advertising promo is going to make choice harder to make. It’s crazy enough now but is likely to get worse when all you’re going to rely on is a star merit system that you have no knowledge on what it is based on to deserve all the stars. It’s also rather weird when comparing similar items on, say, the long river website, where there is someone who thinks anything made of plastic is fragile is on every choice of camera you want to buy.

All of this is lost with the knowledge that grows from reading a lot. Well, perhaps not as much as me. As a reviewer, I read a lot more than normal and certainly with non-fiction my background knowledge tends to look for flaws but that grows with time and knowing what I am reading. To not learn anything is to not know anything. Don’t you find that unsettling?

How do we fight back? Now that is a tough question, mostly because many will say how can one voice or comment or review make a difference? Are you swayed more by good or bad reviews in your buying options? They all add up and can certainly out-number some of the, shall we say, unhelpful comments out there when people think they are obliged to say something even if doesn’t help at all. However, the more we counter by acknowledging reading and knowledge, the more we remind the next generation that they can’t afford to lose it.

Above all, just don’t rely on the Internet for everything when it comes to news and knowledge. We do that and there won’t be a Science Fiction future to look forward to. Well, there will be but it will be a dystopian one which would be rather frightening. Far more scarier, it won’t be one we that’s even been done in SF and there won’t be a renaissance man from the past or a time traveller to explain what the good old days, earlier in this century was like. More likely, such a person will be very similar to the people of the future. It’s almost tempting to work out how a story like that would work. The truly stupid leading the even more stupid. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone would believe such a story. Do we really want a reality like that to happen and have no way back? Do we want to live inside a horror story with no renaissance man or woman to bring us back?


Thank you, take care, good night and remember, every book we read is our way of fighting back.


Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info


A Zen thought: Life is material. It can’t be any other fabric.


What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Probably knowing the above editorial already.


Observation: Ever had your JPGs on-line randomly look like they’ve been put through a green filter or even blacked out? I don’t know if this applies to all video-cards, but try updating the drivers. The simplest way for those who don’t know is to go into the Control Panel, select Driver Manager and then Display Manager. If you have a dedicated video-card, like a Radeon, select it and then tell it to update the drivers and see if it makes a difference. You might not even have to update.

            Mind you, it’s not perfect even then but better than doing nothing.


Feeling Stressed: There’s another 9 months yet.


Missed Opportunity:

            If you aren’t seeing the types of book or authors here you would want to read, chances are that I don’t have any reviewers who do them. I’m stocking up on reviewers right now. The extended info is below but essentially, if you can write and breathe and make good observations, you stand a chance. If you make grammatical errors, then I have your back. Email me at: gfwillmetts at hotmail.com

NOTE: Although there are details below, please observe the bigger message elsewhere on site. I’m always recruiting reviewers and this is the time of year to recruit as the nights are shorter and so you might be sleeping less If you’re living in the UK, love books and feel a bit geeky then read the notes below. You have to love reading anyway. You might be what I’m looking for and I do train people up and it’s good for your writer’s CVs and books to feed your reading habit. As some of my team are discovering, they can also interview writers and write articles as well. You can do that without reviewing as well but reading and reviewing is a good discipline. We’re a good team to belong to.

Polls And Opinions: We did have them for a time but the new version was causing a mess in WordPress so until a new version that doesn’t cause conflicts comes around, we’ll have to do without them but please use the answer option at the end of any material to express comments because we do read them.

For the record: For the odd query I have about being linked to media contacts. I do not have either a personal twitter or facebook account. There’s enough of me here to not outstay my welcome. I’m also puzzled why some people see SFC as a blog site when we’re not. We were in this format long before blogs. It’s getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between blog and butter.

Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com I won’t bite, although that doesn’t preclude others. In fact, I’ll settle for any more willing reviewers who love to read. Did I say I was after reviewers?

NB: We do get digital books and if you live abroad and not in the UK, then this avenue could be open to you. I’m not putting it in as a link to avoid spam. Just copy and paste into your emails to contact me with my address noted in the paragraph above. I’m always recruiting and details are through a link on the top of the SFC main page articles and stories as well. Just because it’s sunny, doesn’t mean you’re going to read any less. We could do with some more fantasy readers right now!

If you’ve on a budget, a book for a review is a good bargain and I can teach the nervous how to do it by seeing what you do when you present a sample. It’s a good deal. We get books in a variety of formats these days so all things are possible to those with the knack for putting words into sentences and saying what they think.

For potential book reviewers in the UK, it’s a good way to keep up your reading habit and show you can write. There are detail links scattered over the website and on the forum. If you don’t think you’re up to scratch, you’ll discover why I’m the dutch uncle. Repeating this several times is for those who only scan and who don’t want to wind back up the page.

Another real Zen thought but this time for potential writers: If you can express an opinion independently of others and aren’t likely to bend to the masses then you might show potential as a writer.

Zen for those who are scared by all the instructions below: Many of the instructions are things you should be doing automatically if you’re developing your writing skills. If you do them already then focus on the ones that you don’t get right. They are there to help you as much as me to get the best writing from you. If you think you’re 80% there then I’ll help you get the final 20%. Trust me, I’m an editor and I can get things right.

BOOK REVIEWS    – Don’t feel intimated by all the info below or linked to. If you’re any good as a writer, much of it should be second nature already. This is just the long hand version.

Do you love books? Do you like curling up and reading a book in preference to socialising, even on the Net? You might not even want to curl up, that’s only an option. Do you have a preference for fantasy, SF or horror? We really could do with some fantasy readers!!! Do you find it the greatest pastime you have next to being on your computer?

Are you very vocal about what you like and don’t like in what you read?

Would you like to share your thoughts with others about books?

Would you like an endless supply of books to do this with?

Do you live in the UK?

Can you spare an hour every day to read?

Do you think you can write about what you’ve read?

Are you finding the recession is hitting your book buying habit?

If you’ve been nodding your head up to this point then link in below and see if you have what it takes to be a reviewer at SFCrowsnest. If you have that special knack to read and write or want to develop said skill then the only way you’re going to find out is to take the plunge yourself rather than wait for others to do it first. Reading a lot of books is a requisite for any writer. Being able to say what makes them good or bad hones your own skills. Even if you’re just happy with reading with a little writing on the side then this might be for you. It’s got to be better than waiting for the sun to come out in this weird summer and now cold winter. It’s also amazing how much you can read in an hour a day.

If you’ve survived this far in the editorial, let me reiterate something from the website newsletter and the above editorial. As you can see from the main page, we have one of the biggest SF/fantasy/horror monthly reviews columns on the Net. Our success has increased the number of books that comes in and our policy is to read everything and give it a roadtest before giving a review so you have some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. You want the bottom line about what you’re going to choose to read. That means we need people actually willing to read the book and tell others they’re opinion in reviews. For that, we’re always on the outlook for more reviewers.

Do you think you have what it takes to review a book? It’s a skill that can be easily mastered and we need a few more. If you love fantasy, we have more than enough to keep you busy for instance.

Apart from the ability to put words into sentences, you also need to know how to précis, do a little research on associated subjects and can express opinions constructively about the good and bad points about the books you read. We even let you choose from our pile of received books rather than foster something on you that you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll even get a little editorial help in how to write good copy and that can always lead to other things. I’m not as scary as I sound editorially and it’s better to do the test review and see how you fare than not attempt to see how well you did. I did say you have to love books and willing to read beyond your favourite authors, didn’t I?

If you like reading books in the genre and can average two or maybe three a month, can really think and show you can write a decent review and, most importantly, live in the British Isles (sorry, expense, time and distance travelled mostly prohibits elsewhere), then use the link below and see our requirements. We can’t pay you but writing a review has to be cheaper than buying a book and a good incentive to see if you have what it takes to develop your writing skills.

Do you think you’re up to writing a review? If you think you can, then you’re really going to think you’ve landed your hands in the biscuit tin. It won’t hurt to try and see if you have the right stuff by sending me a sample review to show me you can write. If you want an added incentive, it can also be good for your CV.

Look up the Review Guidelines by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_reviews.php”></a> with a press of a mouse button.


We always have an interest in running short stories which can be anything from one to thirty or so pages long. We’re always willing to give short story writers a chance to be seen if they can withstand my scrutiny even if we can’t pay for their efforts, your material will be seen by a lot of people if it’s shown on the SFCrownest website. If you can get a short story written well then it’ll make it easier to move up to novel-length.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse.


We’ve also a teaching ground of one page stories, so check out the rules elsewhere on the website. It’s a lot tougher than it looks and far too easy to just write and write and hope something good comes out of it. What writing a one page story does is test your ability to control your word count and still tell a story in a concise way. This doesn’t mean we don’t accept stories of different lengths – a short story can be anything up to 30-40 pages long after all – but opens up the means for really short stories from ideas that don’t need as much space.

Flash fiction stories by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_flashfic.php”></a> with your mouse.


For those keeping track, I’m actually now caught up but don’t tell everyone as I’m undecided as to whether to keep looking at novel-length story samples, move over specifically to short stories – which we do anyway for the website – or get a couple of my own book projects completed. The latter, I still intend to do anyway and now actually working on but don’t let that put you off too much. If you want me to look over a sample, you can contact me through the links on this website.

Before you submit, study the next section below as it’s there to help you do some of the right things and reduce the number of times I’m repeating myself over silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that you shouldn’t be making if you’re serious about becoming a writer. It makes editing a lot easier if any editor has less work pointing out poor English which you should have been sorted out in the first place and more focused on other areas of your work that deal with plot and the other serious elements of storywriting. As a writer, it is your command of the English language and its grammar that will show how serious you are about writing.

There might not be much of a wait unless I get a deluge, however those sending in ebook samples, please read the Guidelines by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse here or through the bottom line menu on the opening page of the SFC website.


General advice for those who want to become writers of any sort: There’s an old editorial adage: If you can’t aim for perfection why should an editor nurse-maid you to that state? Nominally, my job is to catch minor glitches not total mishaps. If you’re a writer, then you should understand the words, sentences and grammar of the job you’re supposed to be writing or are you considering it as mundane and boring as any other job to get right? Fall in love with making every sentence the best you’re ever written, read up and understand the rules of grammar. Put the time in researching any subject you’re using in the story. Be prepared to put a story away for a few weeks and go back to it for a self-edit until it’s as good as you can make it. Even I do that. You look good. I make you look better but you have to start off with good.

A lot of the time, errors will just stare you in the face when you didn’t see them the first time round. Once you know where your weaknesses are, they can be sorted out and allow you to move a little higher up the ladder towards making your material look its best and more importantly, getting your material seen by readers.

The link here will show you the Common Problems Link page and what I see mostly <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_commonprobs.php”></a>

with your mouse. It’s the smart writer who doesn’t get caught out with these.

Good luck.



Category: Offworld Report, World getting weirder


About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (2)

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  1. avatar Michelle Wilbye says:

    In reference to the first sentence in your third paragraph, I refer you to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451….



    PS…trying to make space in my life for reviews. Current score: Life 2 Shell 0


    I’ll keep working on it.

    • avatar UncleGeoff says:

      Hello Shell

      That’s a very good point but its the only book but when a future society is determined to destroy books, it would be hard to avoid them.

      Now, repeat after me: I don’t need a social life. I don’t need to sleep. I just like to fill my spare time with books and read them all the time.
      Works for me.


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