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Revelation Thinking (Editorial – Aug 2021).

August 29, 2021 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone,

For those of you who thought my comments after the main editorial, you would think that I don’t pick up many revelations myself. A lot depends on how profound they are.

The one I picked up from ‘Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History Of Science Fiction’ by James Gunn came from a quote from John Campbell that readers want writers to imagine in greater detail for them and something they hadn’t thought of before. I think that needs to be on every publishers and agents walls to improve the standard or variety of current Science Fiction material.

Campbell is essentially summing up a couple facets that he thought made a writer. The implication is that all people have imaginations. From personal experience I would question that. It needs an odd mindset to see things in odd ways, let alone express it, that most people don’t have. It’s not necessarily a lack of imagination but not to utilise it like we can. Even in our community, having the ability to appreciate the imagination does not necessarily mean you have all the right gifts and talents yourself.

Your head can be trained that way. I mean, if you can see the end of a plot and how its worked out then you’re understanding how the story was written. However, if the writer realises this and takes the same plot elements into a different interpretation, something detective and SF writers do by the way, then the reader can be out-thought. Then its more a matter of the writer cleverly outsmarting the reader and up to the latter to remember the next time. Both ways, oddly enough, are satisfying in their own way.

If you can see the variations then it might be possible to translate the talent into being a writer. Even so, you still need to have the vocabulary to process this into a likable story that can entice the reader to pursue until the end and a dogged determination to complete it. A failing in all novice writers but once achieved can be done again and a mastered skill.

Creating greater detail is really just pitching the information to bring the world to life in the reader’s eyes. How much information do you need to use without bogging the reader down in fine detail is always a fine balance. A writer who can do this with fewer words is a skill in itself. To do so of the real world just as rare. You only have to look at the likes of thriller writers like Jim Thompson or Chester Himes to see if you can be up to it. You end up sharing their vision and they have got inside your heads.

I tend to think Science Fiction to be a lot harder to write. Unless its set in modern times and risks being dated, most of what you read has to be invented and broadstroked so it builds enough information in the reader’s head. Of course, TV and film in recent decades has improved the shorthand with the tropes. Starships and teleportation are essentially transport. Ray-guns for any type of weapon and that’s before you get to things like clones, robots and cyborgs.

Even so, you would be hard pressed to beat AE Van Vogt and Cordwainer Smith for having mile long starships! You imagine the size and probably think cigar-shaped but I doubt if you would imagine every detail. It does explain why some authors include designs and maps along with their stories to help you build pictures of what they are referring to. Then again, it might be a sharing thing or showing their research thinking you need to visualise this for yourselves.

Even so, it does explain why some people don’t get on with Science Fiction as they find it hard to imagine outside of their normal lives or the box they live in. As for us with a preference for SF, we like something outside of box and like to be stretched.

Just in case this editorial turns into a discussion on storycraft when its supposed to be about revelations, a few years back, I did wonder why humans were never thought of as being more than three sub-species divided by melanin. No doubt to stop any prejudice entering things. Even so, based on the preference for living inside and outside the box, one could well believe this was another difference between us all.

The fact that the human species is pretty divergent in many things shouldn’t surprise us really. Afterall, the same thing applies to other species. We’re just articulate enough to recognise how we interbred with the likes of Neanderthals and probably the Denisovans and carry their genes. Rather than battles all the time between the sub-species, chances are it was all about survival and interbreeding.

Archaeologists are currently discovering more human variant skeletons across the world, we are a species of mass variants than the reverse that we only came from one species. This goes ever further in terms of mindsets as well. Why should we be only variants of bodies but not in minds? My own revelation: It would also explain why there are so few geeks and creative types. The genetic mix brings all sorts out. It also confirms to the General Semantics adage that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ or ‘average’ as we all different and unique and that should be applauded.

It’s also contradictory. I mean with us all having some singular differences from each other, you do have to wonder how there is supposed to be some sort of innate racism in us. For a species to survive, it needs to mostly co-operate with each other. I say ‘mostly’ largely remember that male members of the feline species like lions will kill the off-spring of other males when they take over a pride and wonder how any offspring survives into adulthood.

In some respects, I suspect a lot part of any population will see the other part as rivals, whether it is for jobs, the opposite sex or even just envy, let alone a multitude of other reasons of physical differences. As such, it also means it is possible for innate racism to exist whether we consciously like it or not.

Unlike other species, mankind has shown itself capable of overcoming our own hardwiring but, as with other things, we are not all built the same way and it does take time to change.

The advantages of being geeky is that we tend to show insight and clarity in our vision. Peace has to be strived for, it won’t be won by stepping away. If we are going to survive as a species or multiple sub-species then we have to do more to be peaceful and certainly working together to beat global warming, let alone our current pandemic. If we can’t use our geekiness and the ability to see all possibilities and consequences and discuss them in reality of in story then we aren’t using our own position in society as we should.

We need to accept all differences and look for what skill sets whatever the colour or sex we are if we are to grow as a species. Without that backing any country is going to fall short in adapting to whatever future we have given ourselves.

Thank you, take care, good night and deep thinking is a way of life.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: The world needs us all more than ever.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Geeks look for revelations all the time.

The Reveal: There is a very in the way of Science Fiction books about beating back an apocalypse.

Observation: In ‘Aliens’, the detonation of Hadley’s Hope probably didn’t go as far as annihilating the engineers spacecraft. The eggs are still waiting out there. Anyone want a hug?

 Observation: You do have to wonder if the future of mankind is looking more and more like the 1982 sit-com ‘Whoops Apocalypse’. Don’t vote Johnny Cyclops in as US President. You know it doesn’t make sense.

 New Invention: How about this. Rather than have a book, send people the words and like a jigsaw, you put them into some semblance of order.

 Feeling Stressed: Don’t you think holidays will make that worse than better?

Submissions:-

I did think that having a lot of text about submitting material to SFCrowsnest would attract those with a compulsion to read and understand things the geek way. The main problem with the Internet is that it tends to encourage less reading, so time to take a different approach. The original notes will be left on July2009 editorial although the links aren’t likely to work.

With your cover email, tell me something about yourself so I don’t work in a vacuum. The boss in the tower, also called Stephen Hunt, describes me as a ‘Dutch Uncle’ in that I’m good with advice and can explain when I see something that is wrong. Egos should be left at the door as I’m only interested in your talent and how to improve it.

Reviews:-

I always have a clarion call for new reviewers and if you have the yen to learn, you’ll quickly get the ropes if you’re never done it before but you must show me a sample, especially if you can follow my guidelines. We can usually get paper-based books in the UK but if you live abroad, then you might have to stick with ebooks. If you’ve picked a book we haven’t reviewed, then it stands a better chance of being used so use the SFC search engine to see first but I need to see how you would write for us.

The obvious qualification is a desire to read regularly and like to tell others about the book without giving away too many spoilers. The benefit is access to free books for the price of a review.

I want to give you the opportunity to get things right so look up the Review Guidelines link: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-want-to-write-reviews-for-sfcrowsnest-what-you-need-to-know-by-geoff-willmetts/

Fiction:-

Although we can’t pay for submissions, what we do make up for is exposure. Only the Sci-Fi Channel gets more hits than us so it’s worthwhile getting us on your writer’s CV. Please avoid samplings from book’s you might be writing or have had in print elsewhere as I do check. New original work is best and whether I accept or reject, you will be told of any problems I see so you look your best and a grammar check that is equal to the pro-world. Even the boss finds me scarily accurate.

Flash or One-Page Fiction:-

Speaks for itself. The shortest fiction possible is also the toughest to write as no word must be wasted.

Link here for details: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/one-page-stories-or-flash-fiction-submissions-instructions-by-gf-willmetts/

Short Stories:-

The definition of a short story is anything up to 30 pages and then it becomes a novella. Bear in mind you want other people to read it on-line, stay somewhere between 5-20 pages. At least digitally, you don’t have to go double-line as HTML will do that automatically but think about being concise. If you want to send an attachment with these, then ask first and send as a TXT file as it removes most tetchy virus codes.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/so-you-really-want-to-write-an-sf-story-an-update-by-gf-willmetts/

Finally:-

The worse problem I see any samples is poor grammar. Although I don’t want you to think I seek perfection, the less work I have to do, the easier it is to focus on other problems you might have. It will also serve you in good stead if you ever approach paper-based publishers because they will send back any bad grammar samples because it’s not worth their time.

Good grammar is the tool of any writer. Don’t just depend on what you remember doing at school. There are plenty of decent grammar books out there, so remind yourself of the rules. If you think there are far too many to remember, get the major ones right before moving to the next so it becomes second nature.

This link, www.sfcrowsnest.info/the-guide-to-better-grammar-from-the-harrowed-hand-of-gf-willmetts/ will show you the common problems.

To submit, use our email address by joining the spaces as shown here: letters @ SFcrowsnest.info and use the subject matter as to what you’re submitting.

If you have any pastimes that can be used to pass the time in captivity, let me know and we’ll see if it can be turned into an article.

Comments directly to reviews should still work as before.

Good luck

Geoff

Category: Culture

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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