Editorial – Feb 2021: Disaster Reality Can Be A Poor Substitute In Fiction.

January 31, 2021 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone,

With the continuation of covid-19 and, currently, 9 variants and counting, the template of disaster movies in any genre is likely to be changed now. Just because we aren’t facing a zombie or alien invasion, what we have learnt from our current reality is the effects of stress and various people, groups or countries getting their own agendas off the ground. Oddly, not necessarily for greed but more to everything from rebellion to settling scores or just getting the vaccines. In some respects, the ‘free’ world has been fairly lucky in only having one rebellious country leader but we knew that before the pandemic and the current outcome was still likely to happen.

Even so, some countries reactions to their own types of lockdowns is fairly predictable to the level they practiced it. This raises some interesting questions about national stereotypes and then realising they exist. It also means even people with sort memories are going to feel or know something isn’t right in any depiction in book, film or TV series in future with world-wide disasters unless its adequately explained.

Leadership of any sorts has its good and bad moments but mostly for making the right decisions where it matters when it comes to its country’s citizens in a crisis, Alas, we are also learning far too many leaders are clearly not up to the task, often balancing what they see as political necessity and what is good for their party, funding a lockdown, often by not taking in the entire picture, and not being decisive enough fast enough. It isn’t as though any country is going to have an advantage over others in all of this. Have I left anything out there? Even discussing such a subject in an editorial feels like a political rant when really its about leaders having to make the decisions fast enough and not to dither.

Then again, compare this to how you make your own decisions, is it that different? We often have to ponder on some decisions and might delay a day and then go gung ho and let’s just do it. Decision-making needs considered thought as well as rapid action but not delaying the inevitable when there are no other options available. Equally, it also needs a look at other areas where this might be affected.

For writers, living through such a crisis, it should be a whole new learning experience. After all, there are elements of what we have now that don’t have to be made up. It does make me wonder how long before some film studio decides to make a fictional film of our current world-pandemic, although whether people will want to watch it would be debatable. After all, how can a film version be of equal to the real thing we are living through right now. People staying at home is hardly going to be an interesting film. No fictional hero coming to the rescue of the world. We know that would stretch credibility now and breaks the Hollywood trope.

It should make people think about the role of the solitary hero coming to the rescue. In stories, it tends to develop from reducing the number of significant characters down in a story to keep track of. In reality, more than one person is involved and different people bring something to the plot to build up the picture of what is going on. By necessity, a lot of TV series, especially in our genre, do that now, so there is a reflection of life. It’s probably more a film thing really where the star needs more screen time to justify the fee and the fan base watching.

Hearing of a black market already developing in the vaccine is something else that rarely comes up in fiction. Generally, there might be a rebellion a’la ‘Star Wars’ but that only works if any form of government isn’t treating its people well. Then again, how can you have a major rebellion when people are supposed to be afraid to go out. Well, except a certain instance across the pond last month, although it wasn’t about the inoculation. There are also other crowd-gatherings around the world that probably make you as uncomfortable as me about passing the covid-infections.

A current worry and far more legitimate is not enough inoculations to go around fast enough. Inoculating the entire population of a planet is a lot of vaccine to be made, let alone ensuring the time for each person in vital groups is covered. Then there is a matter of convincing the people who don’t want to be inoculated to have the jabs. The Internet rumour factory really does need to be undercut a lot quicker with reasoning than just blocking them. Such divisions are never explored for any SF story. I mean, when was the last time you read an SF aliens visit to Earth , benevolent or otherwise and people didn’t believe it was happening? Totally the reverse of the Orson Wells scenario. Well, those who missed the beginning of the radio broadcast anyway. A twist on this would even be the UFO-believers not believing it. Humans can become very blasé about anything if given long enough to mull things over. With an isolated lockdown, people will have too much time on their hands. Our old story rulebook needs to be revised or chucked out. It might become clichéd but no more than what we’ve played with before.

So our old stereotypes are rapidly changing and our fiction has to reflect this and how they handle a crisis. It’ll make things easier for readers to identify and might even rejuvenate the various fictional genres, our own included with some fresh ideas.

In some respects, one also has to redeploy the imagination. After all, people and potential readers have also seen or experienced the current state of events. It also means if you’re going to imagine a world disaster then you’ll also have to do a lot more to surprise the reader or viewer. Looking at everything from the leadership down to the concerned citizen and active people resolving the issue to show the bigger picture to show a situation is not a Sunday afternoon picnic and the rest of the country or world is going on before in the middle of an international crisis.

You would certainly need some more thought on the kind of heroes and villains you have. The days of the villain tweaking his moustache and committing evil things just for the sake of it is long gone. The villain now is the one who thinks he’s a hero but fed by selfish motives or thinks his or her way is the only solution to solving the problem. Consensus and being open with explanation must surely be considered by all governments if they want to instil trust in their population.

To my mind, there are always more than one solution. The real problem is picking the best or combination of choices that will work the best. Authors do this kind of thing all the time yet oddly it seems to go missing in political leaders. Maybe they don’t read enough or the right material to explore scenarios. Just a day at work for us geeks.

Thank you, take care, good night and if you think a year’s isolation is bad, try my fourteen years and counting. Saying that, I hope this pandemic doesn’t go on for that many years. If you didn’t feel stress before, then you will now. On that scary thought, take care out there and when it’s your turn for your inoculations, ensure you have them.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Reality is very stubborn.

Another Zen thought: Survival is paramount. It beats the other Hollywood studios.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: We mostly have a sense of humour.

Computer Tech: Had any problems with nothing seemingly isn’t working after a W10 boot-up? This being compounded when you use Ctrl, Alt, Delete to get the Task Manager and can’t even call that up. There is a way in that screen. Essentially, you just need something to function to break whatever is causing the loop. On the screen that accesses the Task Manager, you’ll find the ‘Ease Of Access’ and ‘Internet Connection’ (that’s the one showing other servers in your area) will still function. Get one of them pressed tends to bring everything back to normal or rather break the loop of what’s causing W10’s inaction.

It doesn’t always last for long but might gives you a chance to close files down and allow a proper boot-up which tends to resolve it.

Computer Tech: Speaking of boot-ups, if you’ve got an 8 minute boot-up, password and waiting for W10 to settle down, have a look at what programs are initiated at start-up. If you have Norton, then you look in ‘Performance And Startup Manager’ and turn off any duplicates. I’m more amazed that these pre-bootup programs don’t check for duplicates of themselves or ensure only the latest drives are left. ‘Delay Start’ anything like printers until W10 is loaded. Do all of this very carefully and, if you’re not sure, do one at a time. At least, if anything doesn’t work, you know what to turn back on. Don’t turn off or delay everything, some of it is very vital.

If you’re happy but it’s still slow, go to ‘Control Panel’, ‘Settings’, ‘System’, ‘Power & Sleep’, ‘Additional Power Settings’, ‘Choose What The Power Button Does’ and see if the ‘Fast Start-Up’ is ticked. Although a link I didn’t keep says that it should be turned off, I found just put it in the reverse of whatever its showing is the real choice. Then do a reboot and see how fast it boots up. I tend to keep ‘Settings’ in my W10 menu for easy access.

Now, it’s a lot faster booting up but just feels slow unless you keep one eye on the clock.

The Reveal: With computer problems, always assume you’re never the first to have a problem. It’s inevitable someone else might have been there first and might have a solution that works for you.

 The Reveal: Only age makes you feel old.

The Reveal: With any artistic endeavour there is always the need, even if its only in the back of your head, to do it better.

The Reveal: Are you finding old shows and films where people aren’t social distancing starting to get a little unsettling?

Observation: Let’s take another look at ‘Aliens’. Considering Ellen Ripley was away for 57 years, albeit in hibernation, wouldn’t she have had a massive backdated pay? Even if we exclude a lot of her duties on the Nostromo, as a flight officer, she would still have been entitled to something.

Observation: Just how did Ripley climb into the Power Loader without a step-ladder? You would think that something should have been incorporated into the design. [Lesson learn from model-making 2.01.]

Observation: Joe MacClaine as Joe 90 would have had a very limited life as a boy agent since when his hormones kick in, he would likely have quickly grown taller.

Speculation: Here’s something for you to have a ponder on. Pre-2020, has there ever been any film or TV series where people have kept their distance from each other? Kitchen sink dramas tend to focus on a small cast so really shouldn’t be considered. I did wonder about the USS Discovery in’2001’ but I don’t think that was Kubrick’s intention.

Feeling Stressed: At least it should now be considered a shared experienced as contradictory as that might sound.



Category: Culture

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About UncleGeoff

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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