Editorial – December 2018 : Brave New World.

December 2, 2018 | By | 2 Replies More

Hello everyone

Trying to find some topic to end the year on in the editorial has been hard this time around. With the world falling apart, it has a feeling of being Nero playing his violin or whatever he was doing back then as Rome burns if I write something too light. Mind you, that is supposed to be a fiction so maybe he kept the fire going because bricks don’t burn. The history of reality doesn’t always stay the same as depicted.

With current reality looking more like something from Science Fiction, you do have to wonder what else is going to crop up from our genre next. We have a current catastrophe tearing the world apart with climate change. A population that is increasingly wondering what is going on, whom to trust or just ignoring it, hoping things will just go away.

We even have a possible alien incursion if the suspicions about the Zen-like named asteroid Oumaumau turns out to be an alien probe. Then there would be two options: would the aliens be visiting to see how advanced we are or because we didn’t interact by having a look, consider us not really bothering with and visit the gas giants for a fuel stop instead. Those are probably the safest two options. If they want real estate in a nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere, we would all be in trouble.

We haven’t had a real technological disaster yet although what I’ve been reading about Artificial Intelligence and smart-tech this month in the book ‘Genius Weapons’ and certainly the countries that haven’t signed up for non-use of weapons in space would worry anyone. Certainly our use and improvements in technology is getting even non-tech users depending on it is changing the shape of society. This is getting to the stage where even young children are going to master computer-tech as a way of life. One can only hope old-fashioned things like writing and reading books aren’t forgotten or seen as an archaism.

Going through the sub-genres, we have SF black comedies. You always have to wonder how things got into that state for the events to happen. With ‘Dr. Strangelove’, it’s an escalation of single events getting out of control. Mind you, perspective has changed since then. Communication is more instantaneous now and so is the speed of people reacting to it, thanks to the Internet. Disasters happen faster and we can see them happening. What is really worrying is wondering if enough people are worried or are they just pressing the ‘don’t know’ button than thinking for themselves. Occasionally, I do wonder if my generation at school had the best education and it’s all gone down the tubes since. Even so, you do have to wonder if there is some big plot going on behind the scenes that makes sense of what is going on in the world at the moment. That alone is enough to make you wonder if paranoia should be a way of life and someone or something is out to get you.

There is some consolation at this time of year, no nation plans to cause a nuclear holocaust and spoil the parties and opening the new year but if it does, it would certainly be the first and last time. That should make partying popular for those of you who enjoy such things. It should make you wonder if there is a peace this time of year, why can’t it be all the year around?

If it isn’t going to be the 17 sub-genres of Science Fiction, then we need to look at particular trope associated with it. Namely, fudging. Nothing to do with a sweet tooth but the one major lie that you have to accept in any SF. Do we have one or many in our current reality? Having a single lie could be used here as well. Maybe not exceeding the speed of light or time travel but something believable enough to be true. Hmm…we got some choices there, haven’t we? More so as some political leaders insist on keeping their heads in the sand regarding climate warming. If that isn’t going on then what is causing such rapid weather changes that we didn’t have a decade ago. Ignore scientists at our peril and we might as well let the icecaps complete their meltdown. Don’t forget, it can always be more than one lie going on in the world. We need a lot more honest news on the Internet and not have to dig such things out as if they are as rare as a dragon’s flaming breath.

One thing. There’s no way we can turn the clock back and put things right in a trice. Normality has gone forever. Real life problems, like climate change, will take decades to stop and we can only hope that mankind will be alive to see it or nature will have to sort things out for a few centuries. We have to accept that there are no ready answers to the world’s problems, just long term solutions. Saying that, things are getting bad when some world leaders don’t understand this, let alone listen to their scientific advisors who say things have to be done. Leaving it for another generation and passing the buck will ultimately leave nothing that can be done. Now that is plain scary and we’ve moved into a post-apocalyptic reality and very few of a world population left to cope. They’ll be paying too much time with their games anyway. No doubt they would be cursing our generation for not taking more care of our world. Didn’t I write something like this in the previous paragraph? Maybe saying things twice will up the google score.

Reality is getting crazier but, hopefully, because we have SF in our blood we might at least will keep our feet levitating above the ground. Better to be optimistic than pessimistic although we need a balance of both. Science is shaping the world and maybe more should be done to ensure scientists are allowed more freedom do save our planet. It’s either that or hope the aliens are coming and they might not be so nice when they see how we’re ruining the world. We put trust in deities coming to sort things out but we might not always like the solutions they offer.

 

Thank you, take care, good night and at least with black comedy we can sigh that it isn’t going to happen to us…maybe.

Let me, as usual, wish you a hopeful new year.

 

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

 

A Zen thought: I like the chances in Hell.

 

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: To realise stopgaps are only temporary.

 

The Reveal: Kettles are not always black. A lot of the time they are silver shiny things.

 

Observation: We must stop all the ocean and sea pollution, if only to save the mermaids.

 

Observation: Is it my imagination or is there less new SF novels out there this season?

 

Feeling Stressed: Life is there to be lived while you can.

 

Missed Opportunity:

            The real technical details for the geeks who want all the details. If you don’t, just send me a sample review.

            I’m always on the lookout for new writers, especially that rare breed called ‘reviewer’. Can’t get enough of them. Don’t feel because we are the top of the tree, that I don’t want new talent. I just want people who can write and improve with practice and a little coaching.

            What you have below are two choices. Send me a sample review and let me pass comment. The second choice is to read all the info below, just in case you want to understand more about the protocols.

            Some things are put in bold, not so much because they are any more important but more to add a little more emphasis. Welcome to my mind and be grateful you don’t have to live it in your ability to self-express.

            If you regularly read 50-100 pages of a book a day, then you might be reviewer material.

 

            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! We could do with any of you interested in learning how to be reviewers period.

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.

SHORT STORIES

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.

FLASH OR ONE-PAGE FICTION

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.

NOVEL-LENGTH SAMPLES

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.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING BUT AFRAID TO ASK

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.

Geoff

 

 

Category: Offworld Report, World getting weirder

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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 Julian White says:

    Thank you for that thoughtful commentary! My husband is a big conspiracy/paranoia buff (but then he’s also a fan of UFO/ancient alien programmes… ); my attitude tends to veer more towards ‘sheer stupidity’ rather than ‘deliberate suppression of technology/information’.

    Sadly I can’t see much chance of an immediate improvement, especially in the climate change area.

    Your post-editorial comment: There have always been fewer SF novels than I’d like – certainly more fantasy. That may be improving with the growth of self-publishing and digital platforms – not that that is a guarantee of improved quality! – but of course that brings me more and more into conflict with the Amazon monolith…

    Thanks for your words during the year – and best wishes for 2019 when we get there!

  2. avatar UncleGeoff says:

    Hello Julian
    Looking at what I’ve put on-line today in that light, I really must have gone heavy thinking this month overall although it wasn’t intentional. It was just me being me.

    Re: ‘mainstream’ SF. You do have to wonder why SF publishers aren’t making more effort to get SF novels in their schedules. Hopefully, someone will get the message.

    Hopeful times.
    Geoff

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