Revelation Thinking (Editorial – Sept 2021).
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.
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?
NB Submission details have to be moved to the latest editorial each month because it was confusing the Google search engine with so many repeats.