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Editorial – December 2019 : There should never be such a thing as a ‘don’t know’.

December 1, 2019 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

The test of an ideal political system depends on a couple things if it is to succeed. The main one is the co-operation of the majority of the population and doing no harm to the rest, commonly called the opposition who might be persuaded to accept it. The latter is a lot harder to do if they resort to terrorism but when you consider how the likes of Stalin imprisoned or murdered his dissenters on any whim in the USSR and other political regimes around the world, then it is not the act of a benign regime. Tolerance, providing neither side doesn’t resort to violence, is a needed commodity. Benign is a lot harder to achieve because you’re never going to please everyone all the time.

With Science Fiction, there tends to be only two political systems. One that depends on some form of military dictatorship and the other, a form of democracy. Oddly, they are never described as that. Saying that, we really don’t see it in action with the likes of elections, government and so forth but more a backdrop to the actual story and only raised if needed. You might see some of their policies implemented like with Anthony Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ to deter criminals and…then you get stuck to think of any more. Much of the time it is a civil war where a military dictatorship just goes to war against the opposition. Look at the Empire in ‘Star Wars’ reality or the ‘Dune’ books.

Dune (2020) begins filming with Denis Villeneuve of 'Bladerunner 2049' and 'Arrival' fame in the chair.

Dune (2020) begins filming with Denis Villeneuve of ‘Bladerunner 2049’ and ‘Arrival’ fame in the chair.

Whenever there is a war against another country or alien race, you don’t really see the opposition parties suggesting they try other means to have a peace of some sort. Proper politics appears never to enter Science Fiction realities. Maybe it’s because it’s too close to our reality or no one is going to believe it’s more crazier aspects that we currently see in reality. Outside of the TV series/film ‘Whoops, Apocalypse’, you couldn’t make up what we have here right now in our own reality. As Science Fiction can be used as a metaphor for normal reality, even some publishers and authors are careful that they aren’t sued for libel or how quickly it can age. At least most forms of democracy can remove belligerence after a few years.

Reality is different and when there are several political parties, it’s very difficult to disguise in a work of fiction, tending to rely on the two prominent ones so as not to confuse things. That’s pretty standard, as there is a tendency to focus on the main adversaries in any work of fiction. Even in standard fiction it’s not hard to distinguish between the major parties because the stereotypes do actually exist. No doubt, there are similarities in different parts of the world. One would have to wonder of all professions, politicians appears to exist as stereotypes. History defines it one political party as that of the wealthy and the other, the working class who proved to be as their equal and have less problems with inbreeding and rarely marrying outside of their own group.

Even as I wrote this saying this is stereotype, there are so many obvious examples not to say it doesn’t happen. It is far more worrying when the ‘ruling class’ believe that they deserve to be at the top and everyone else are serfs who take whatever they are given tells its own story. Is it hardly surprising that this is based off a historical precedent that took a long time to shake up and not without some civil wars along the way. Even more worrying, it appears to be conditioning for them to stay in power. No wonder, outside of democracies, revolutions and civil wars happen from time to time showing how tenuous political power really is. If anything, in the 21st century, democracy is a little too civilised. Saying that, I’m not sure if I would want an outright war neither. Ballet boxes are there to stop that happening.

Anyway, the important thing to remember and is probably learnt more about politics in the past couple years in the UK is the importance of the right to vote and to apply it than be a ‘don’t know’ or believe things won’t change. To believe not voting at all because it doesn’t change anything means a failure in the system of the masses can make a decision as groups.

To not vote doesn’t mean you are happy with the status quo, it just creates a situation where an unexpected and worse option gets through. There is a weird effect of many people getting the urge to vote. I suspect any political party appreciates those who don’t vote because it makes their own job easier to focus on the undecided who can sway things either way, as they don’t have to appeal to everyone’s tastes to get their votes. Political unrest, as witnessed in Hong Kong, shows imposing political regimes isn’t effective. Persuading people doesn’t necessarily rely on being totally truthful but there should be an honesty clause which is why politics looks so dirty these days. I suspect it has always been dirty, just that with the Internet we can see it up close these days.

Some politicians primarily depend on appealing to what they think you want while implying it doesn’t cost money in taxes because they see that as a vote-loser. In many respects I suspect this is how distrust in politicians began because they fear the truth won’t get them elected, not to mention how it becomes unfair when the rich can evade paying taxes that the rest of us do. If you want public amenities, then the money has to come from somewhere. I doubt if banks loan money to nations without not wanting a high interest rate or their money back, just a bit of leniency with the laws.

No wonder some aspects of politics can draw comparison to actors’ razzmatazz and treated as a profession than being a vocation. Somewhere along the line it’s not difficult to forget politicians are supposed to be serving the people and not corruption to win favour. It’s hardly surprising that this is a regular role in fiction and film but denied when you consider where the money is coming from. People confuse reality with fiction but they are serious bedfellows. No wonder it doesn’t come up much in Science Fiction, it’s too close to reality. What fantastic elements can you add to it, short of the dark side of the Force?

It’s rather scary that unlike in my own time at school, politics isn’t a class subject anymore. Mine came under the compulsory subject of ‘Citizenship’ in the last two years at school and got a practical qualification (I got a grade 1) even if it didn’t mean much when applying for a job. Although a little dusty on the subject, I learnt all about parliament procedure amongst other things. None of this personality politics of today. All about sub-committees checking for loopholes in any proposed laws before being made. The balance of sub-committees based on the proportions of political parties.

After all these years, I can still recall procedures which makes it wonder why it’s so missing in education today and making politics look like an arcane mystery. Like with any subject, the more you understand the more you can have a proper considered opinion. By keeping most people ignorant on the subject, it becomes a form of control and, worse, belief that someone will sort out the problems of the country or world with a flick of the hand. Then it becomes scary and almost religious-like. Giving people political power doesn’t make them any better. As with all walks of life, the range from scum to good people still applies and political leaders need to help everyone not just a few. As if reality could match that map.

Understanding any subject is better than not. As geeks, we no doubt pick up such knowledge but politics is such a weird reactive subject that it might not always be on your learn list. One thing we’ve seen over the past 3 years is just how much politics influences our lives, whether we want it to or not. Having our say, if only by a single vote, is better than no vote at all. Hopefully, those of you who are voting in the UK have done all the necessary to ensure you vote than not turn up on the day. Just don’t forget to do it.

A single vote might not seem much but, as a collective, it makes all the difference. After all, look at the current reaction to climate change. Granted politics needs a wide brief to cover a lot more issues but the same thing applies. To be a ‘don’t know’ means having no opinion and that’s far more dangerous. At least in the UK, we have an opinion. At least, I hope we do still.

Thank you, take care, good night and, oh, can we claim the 2020 is going to be any better than 2019? Happy new year. Add cynicism where appropriate,

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

 

A Zen thought: A fence is shaky when there are too many people on it.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have:             Geeks never stand on the fence.

                                                                        It’s too easy to fall off.

The Reveal: Any poll depends on what you consider a cross-selection of the population and can be swayed by a small minority than an overall consensus.

Observation: Going back to the 1966 ‘Thunderbirds’. I’ve been thinking about why have Thunderbird One taking off vertically. As far as the people in that reality are concerned, TB1 is always seen horizontally. As it’s a third of the size of TB2 and its known both are vertical landing aircraft, you wouldn’t be looking for a big airfield.

Of course, the main intention was to have a spectacular take-off and I doubt a horizontal TB1 would have worked quite as well.

Logistically, world-wide radar would only have picked up TB1 when it was 3 miles up, as described in ‘The Imposters’ which was the limit for TB3. Assuming that anyone was looking for TB1 it would then suddenly appear there and as the Earth was rotating underneath it, TB1 wouldn’t necessary be tracked to Tracy Island whereas a horizontal flight probably would.

With Thunderbird 2, having a slower take-off, it would mostly fly under the world-wide radar until a suitable distance from Tracy Island and just be registered as another aircraft blip until it gained altitude.

Observation: With the 1978 film ‘Alien’, why was the Narcissus only equipped to freeze one crew member? Granted it was supposed to be the captain’s scout-ship but it also meant that in a dangerous situation, there was nothing on the Nostromo for the rest of the crew, although presumably if the refinery was going to explode they’d have taken the entire ship but, even so, you would think the company would have looked after its crew. After all, it isn’t like they considered them expendable, is it?

Net Observation: With hoax shopping websites out there, when you add a real one to your favourites list, don’t use the home page which is always changing. Select an item page only you know and link in on that one. It doesn’t even have to be something you bought.

Net Observation: It took over a dozen years but I filled my Hotmail/Outlook emails folders and at 98% told I should be deleting files and the content of some folders, so I started at the earliest ones. Despite this, it suddenly sprung up to 99% and refused to allow me to send emails out. Even deleting a year’s work didn’t change anything until a message came up and said I needed to delete the files in the delete file and that finally did it, although I might have to erase another year or so yet.

Granted you might not have the amount of traffic I get editing SFC, but over the years it could happen to any of you regardless of the email server you use. I do think that there should be an easier way to remove early emails as a block than individually. A trick to speed things up is get your emails in early date first, the select the opening email and keep a finger on the shift button and then the down arrow to do it quickly rather than tick every file individually. Stop at a 100 and delete because it you raise your finger, you’ll have to start again.

Feeling Stressed: Know what to do when your email box says it’s full.

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.

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 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.

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