Editorial – July 2019 : All hail the geek outsider.
Having reviewed ‘The History Of Cults: From Satanic Sects To The Manson Family by Robert Schroëder’ this month, I was amazed how many were still active and how the press hasn’t raised much issue about them in a few years. Of course, there is still the distinction as to what makes a ‘cult’. The word gets banded around in our genre as the term ‘cult movie’ as if it’s of interest to small number of people.
In the grand scale of things, a ‘cult’ can be any number of people who are devoted to one thing, invariably led by a charismatic leader who once they have got their claws into you, complete the process of a subtle brainwashing so all you see is their beliefs and, well, a general lack of free will as you hand over your earnings and/or savings and do as you’re told. Pay attention, you in the corner or I’ll double the amount you have to pay for the privilege of belonging to my cult. It’s hardly something new. Various existing religions have been using similar techniques over the centuries and, luckily, because they haven’t kept up with the times have had people questioning this kind of belief and dropped out. Oddly, this dropping out process has also meant they have become susceptible to other cults. You can hardly accuse the extreme cults of today when they are using similar methods of established religions. It also says a lot about the type of people they attract. That is, people who are vulnerable to being controlled and we all have that Achilles’ heel.
I can explore this more in an editorial than within a review, mostly because I can raise more questions. As obstinate geeks, I would hope that we are less susceptible than most because we have a tendency to question everything. At least, I hope we still do. Keep your inner geek active. Unfortunately, when you see the number of space beings/UFO orientated cults, you do have to wonder if our kind of people are being seen as a prime target? After all, wouldn’t you want to be alive we have our first contact with sentient aliens? Better still, have a front row seat, irrespective of their intentions. As geeks, we would question why aliens would pick out certain individuals to communicate with and commit a ritual mass suicide to join them. Would advance beings do such things for a small number of people? Why not go for broke and wipe out everyone. A lot simpler for an alien conquest. It pays to question.
Many cults rely on giving you something that you think you need and can hit the vulnerable radicalisation and isn’t confined to any one thing. If anything, the same pattern is used to all these ‘followers’, so it’s more a matter of what you are led to believe even more intensely than the type of conditioning used. It can be powerful enough to entice some people to blow themselves and others up for the cause which shows there are levels of intensity of indoctrination. Whether people can deprogrammed at that level is questionable. It makes regular brainwashing look tame by comparison because it can be so subtle when the recruit isn’t fighting the conditioning.
It does show a definite vulnerable fault in the human psyche and you have to wonder just how safe any of us are to anything. Think about that the next time you find yourself buying a new product about how much you were conditioned by advertising. It’s the same means that magicians and con artists use to get inside your head. Thankfully, they don’t stay that long. I find it more disturbing that humans can be so easily controlled by these techniques on a regular basis. It isn’t intense brainwashing, a’la ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ that we have to be wary of but the gentle stuff that seeps into our consciousness without us fighting it.
Being able to question anything like I do is useful, Sometimes, having a prepared answer in your head is handy because it puts the question back at them and often, they themselves, have no defence against it. My encounters with doorstep religions can freeze them by asking which of the Bible’s gods do they prefer as the Old Testament was far nastier than how the New Testament is portrayed and then that means there isn’t one deity. Equally, saying the only thing I believe in is as a type one diabetic I would be dead in three days without insulin can leave no answer.
Crazy as it might seem, some of the tactics used are pleasurable. It was rather weird how some of these cults use free sex as a motivation before taking it off the agenda, except for the leaders. Euphoria or community sharing is seen as a means to stick to a cult so you get the feeling again. The same euphoria effect can also be felt at a pop concert or even at the cinema when you share with others and get a high. Like with indoctrination, it’s the sharing that also shows something about the human psyche. Humans are basically a herd animal, frowning on the individuals who differ to themselves. Scriptwriter Nigel Kneale got it right with ‘Quatermass And The Pit’ back in 1958/1967. We need to remind ourselves from time to time that we are individuals first and anything communal is by our own choice and not forced upon us by others. Let’s hope we’re all strong enough to realise that. After all, there’s little difference in control from religions, cults, advertising and politicians. It’s all on the same spectrum and we need more freedom in how we make our choices. Applying a little more than a few seconds thought in making your minds up and ponder on any persuasive tactics that don’t have reality backing it up.
Thank you, take care, good night and let’s hope aliens don’t prey on these vulnerabilities for real.
A Zen thought: Intense love is like sparks in the sand.
What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Geeks plan even when it doesn’t look like we are doing so.
The Reveal: The rapidly change in weather is all down to climate change. It isn’t always going to be hot but cold as well as the jet stream shifts every which way.
Computer Observation: Having problems getting back to normal Internet after a game or three of ‘Fortnite’? Me, too. It seems the culprit if the ‘Epic Game Launcher’. We take it for granted that just because we minimalise something it’s not totally active when really it is. You would think Epic would sort this out. It isn’t as though you can’t use the Launcher because it periodically updates on different days. You might still have to use F5 but at least you won’t be paralysed. The other open Internet pages might still be a tad frozen for awhile but at least you can open fresh pages.
Computer Observation: Now if you need to reset your Internet Explorer, give yourself about an hour of freetime. Use Windows Search and put in (sans ditto/quote marks) ‘Windows Features’. Up will come a screen, given time, that will show all that is currently running as it scans your computer. Turn off ‘Internet Explorer’ and then follow the instructions on screen to reboot. Just to reassure you, this will not affect your anti-virus settings or Favourites. The reboot will take some time starting with a 30% update. DON’T INTERFERE, just be patient, hence the capped words.
Once the reboot is complete, your Internet Explorer won’t be there. If you keep an IE icon on the task or menu bar, then it will be gone. Now, do ‘Windows Features’. Up will come a screen, given time, that will show all that is currently running as it scans your computer. This time, turn on ‘Internet Explorer’ and then follow the instructions on screen to reboot. The same 30% reboot will happen. Again, DON’T INTERFERE, just be patient. This time the Internet Explorer should return to normal hopefully. You will have to re-pin to the task bar but that’s a formality. The same with your home page if it’s been changed. Right mouse button on the top right ‘house’ icon and use the ‘Add or change home page’ command while on your chosen home page.
Observation: Although I have yet to see the new film ‘Yesterday’, I do have a puzzle over the premise that only one person could remember The..The..Fab Four, isn’t that their name? Can only one individual be unconscious in the world when this event happens? Surely you would have other people with memories of other things the rest of the world has forgotten.
Also, unless this is a slip into a parallel world, how can this change also remove all the vinyl, CDs and media literature and footage as well? The most simple premises tend to fall apart when all the implications are ignored.
Feeling Stressed: Read a book. It gets you away from the real world for a while a day.
Reviewers come in all ages and tastes and I’m sure I can find something for you.
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.
The real technical details for the geeks who want all the details. If you don’t, just send me a sample review.
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.
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.
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.