Editorial – April 2020: SF realities can be worse.

March 29, 2020 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

With so many us us confined to their homes, I did have a ponder on whether or not by printing reviews we might be putting too many leisure items to the various delivery services when they should be focused on more essential items. I did ask one of the delivery people and he said to the contrary that with so many people home, there were no return packages and the traffic was light. He might well have had a point.

If many of us are going to be confined to our homes for anything up to three months, then we might as well make it as pleasant as we can for ourselves. If you aren’t sure, leave it in your digital shopping cart until you can order it up.

In the meantime, many book publishers are going to have problems getting new books out. As we don’t have an excessive backlog over the years, we can always fall back on that. Even so, expect books reviewed that I’ve bought and have never had the time to read for the foreseeable future as well.

Writing an editorial on what is happening and changing in the real world is meaning anything can get old very quickly now.

Coronavirus: Can China contain outbreak that has infected 2,700 people?


In many respects, in our current Science Fiction world, why should we not be surprised that the world would be facing a plague of some sort from time to time? It happens in SF a lot, albeit in a devastating apocalypse where the authors are more concerned with the aftermath than how it happened or to stop it in its tracks. All right, so ‘The Andromeda Strain’ succeeded, sort of. They are very nervous of showing a cure, probably because it would be too optimistic and reality should never be shown to make it easy. Even so, those stories that have cures tend to be on less than one hand.

Oddly, in keeping with SF getting it wrong, it isn’t from a man-made virus but a cross-species infection. Considering that the coronavirus tends to target the old and those with an on-going medical problem like my own type one diabetes or lung infections, it just makes you more likely to succumb to the likes of pneumonia after your immunity system has been kicked into touch. I had pneumonia nearly twenty years ago now and, in the recovery period, was literally walking like a deep sea diver as I got better.

If your health isn’t strong after one serious infection, another one puts the finishing touch. Although there isn’t an inoculation against coronavirus, there is against pneumonia and would make sense to ensure those who are susceptible to be protected against it. Something I did after my own recovery, not wanting to go through it a second time.

Even so, avoiding simple handshakes and such means it might be safer to wear surgical gloves than surgical masks. Mainly because you’re likely to touch a lot more things than being deliberately sneezed over. A reality of no physical contact appears to be right out of the SF handbook. The sceptic in me thinks it would be impossible to keep up, especially for so many people to all do the same thing.

More so, with some undoubtedly not believing how easy it is to pass an infection or, possibly, thinking they are immune or it’s hyped out of proportion. It’s an impossible task. Then again, we are getting used to partying going over the cliff. I wrote a lot of this editorial at the beginning of the month and things are changing so rapidly on a day to day basis, who knows what it will be like even after the day this goes on-line.

In some respects, the coronavirus is a Trojan horse virus. You’re not immune after having it and the number of contacts goes up geometrically every time you go out. If you compare to the fantasy of an infection being turned into a zombie, your odds are even less favourable. One can only hope that is that when it mutates, it might become a little more benign and harmless. Well, until the next mutant strain. We are indeed again being reminded that we are living in an SF reality only this time we have no idea of the final outcome or how quickly things will turn out.

Ultimately, it has something in common with SF viruses. If it is only really dangerous to you when you get old then eventually everyone gets caught. Well, until someone medical team comes up with some kind of inoculation and that’s a minimum of 18 months to get, check and put it out there.

If you want to feel really depressed. Considering this, every new infection can quickly spread across the world. Coronavirus should be a wake-up call to have precautions set to safeguard people and those infected as a standard protocol for the next outbreak. It’s either that or cut down the spread of inter-species infections. I doubt if that will ever change again. Any country that thinks it won’t happen again will get more than quizzical eyebrows and certainly country leaders who need to be honest than wishful and setting a bad example and violate the 6 foot rule on TV.

Reflectively, you would think the future of Science Fiction realities where pandemics are concerned will still divide between optimistic and pessimistic endings, assuming anyone thinks they can better the real thing. At least we will know the procedures and outcomes and woe beset the SF writer who tries to fake it. If anything, any viable solutions will have to be applied to even the most alien virus. How much it will scare readers will depend on experience. Our own resilience will speak for itself.

How it will leave the surviving population depends on the virus. Logistically, the really lucky ones will be those with a genetic natural immunity and I doubt if there are many like that but I would bet on Darwin on that one.

From a Science Fiction point of view, seeing how various countries deal with not spreading the virus from a medical and political way is a template of observation for any futuristic pandemics. Although it is unlikely that we ever turning into zombies or face the red dust as distributed by the Wellsian Martians, this is one area where readers will compare to the real thing.

I did wonder as to which Science Fiction based viruses could be worse, just to make you think it could be worse.

The classic 1975 TV series ‘Survivors’ where the introduction shows the original pandemic from a laboratory virus being spread across the world reflects the spread we have today. Back then, we didn’t think even a virus would cross across species let alone spread across the world so quickly.

From the 1989 ‘Batman’ film, the jokervirus and not to wear cosmetics or have the last laugh.

The ‘Andromeda Strain’ (1971) and the problems when you aren’t a sterno drinker or in a crib all ends up in dust.

The ‘28 Days’ (2002) rage virus was the start of the zombie viruses and a demonstration that self-isolation is the best option.

Just in case you think it’s all films, there’s the Wildcards virus from the George RR Martin edited series of the same name. Just don’t draw the black card.

There’s even the plague from ‘The Omega Man’ (1971) film capable of turning people into albino vampires.

Maybe it would be better to be turned into pod people a’al ‘Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers’, pick your film.

Our chances of survival are better than these and remember past SF authors wrote far fates for us.

Thank you, take care, good night and really take care with your health.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info


A Zen thought: Life is survival.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Think of what to do with all that time you will have in your home and likely to do more than those who aren’t geek.

The Reveal: If you’re buying books and merchandise by delivery, you should be fairly safe from the objects themselves. Coronavirus needs an organic source to survive and the time in transit will kill it so your chances of contamination are slight. Whether the same can be said for you putting your mark on the delivery person’s ipad is more debatable.

Observation: There are some 250 billion stars in the Milky Way so why would anyone come from another galaxy to visit us?

 Observation: There are several worries about Donald Trump’s Space Force. Chief amongst them is has he been watching ‘Moonraker’ too many times and doesn’t he know that the USA no longer has any operational space shuttles? Alternatively, do you think Gort would really care when it lands.

 Observation: Have you noticed how many adverts, especially those who encourage physical contact, have now developed an ominous tone since the coronavirus.

 Feeling Stressed: A few slow deep breaths are worth their weight in gold.


Category: Scifi

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 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.

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