CultureOffworld Report

Editorial – July 2024 : Democracy In Action Or Inaction

Hello everyone

Politics on our planet allows for many regimes and has been neglected in Science Fiction. Mostly, I suspect, because if any SF author takes a particular stance then readers think its what they support rather than be in a position to criticise it. Much of it is functionary than exploratory and often just a backdrop. If anything, very few of the political systems are explored in SF beyond dictators, royalties and democracies. We accept a need to show people, good and bad, in power far more than make a political statement although quite happy to oust them. With the wide scope of SF, we can explore far more than other genres although not as used as much as we could, even in satire. It’s almost a poisoned chalice although is neatly disguised. I mean, in many respects Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ sequence is political and so is Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Pern’ books how the dragonriders interact with the various communities. The ‘Star Wars’ regime indicates the Emperor bad without really seeing how. The ‘Star Trek’ regime rarely showed what kind of political systems were tolerated, even on Earth, compared to what is shown to be bad on other planets. We just don’t really consider them that way. It’s all part of life, just not called politics. Regimes didn’t really change, just who ran them. Even on our planet, political systems change a bit over generations. The only difference the number of years they continued and, in many respects, would hardly be considered democratic but, a lot of the time, mostly fair.

Even in other genres, political nature is corrupt. It makes stronger stories than nothing much going on. Much of the time, even in democratic societies, much of it is kept quiet unless the press gets wind of it. Scandal always makes for good stories. Corruption even more so. Its characteristics that people easily recognise. It makes people untrustworthy and used to serve themselves. There are all kinds of lies in politics. The recent decade in the UK and the USA has illustrated what happens when self-serving goes to extremes and the influence of TV on choice based on ‘star’ celebrity rather than their question to deliver. Having people appear on the screen on a regular basis, irrespective of what they are doing, presents a belief that you think you know when in fact you are seeing, at most, an hour of activity which gives no indication of how much is scripted by someone else or edited to put people in a good light. Whatever, it is a form of conditioning and how manipulative the TV and your media of choice can be in your life. If you don’t believe me look at what you buy by advertising influence. Big Brother isn’t so much watching you but telling you what to do more subtly than in ‘1984’. Oddly, the only SF books that covered this are the pair of black-humoured books ‘The Space Merchants’ (1952) aka ‘Gravy Planet’ and ‘The Merchants’ War’ (1984) by Frederick Pohl and CM Kornbluth, based on their experience in the advertising industry. Don’t try coffiest. It’s not addictive but you’ll be drinking it night and day. Think of how many caffeine products you have in your life despite the fact that they are mildly addictive but acceptable.

Individual thought is important except when it comes to management when its representative and that’s the same in business as much as government, although the only difference is the experience in each job. Even professional politicians rarely really have much experience in the government posts they are given. But then, that’s pretty common in any government and more luck than anything with having people with experience. Oddly, it is very rare that anyone from the science community, let alone geeks, becomes a politician so we’re sorely unrepresented in such an environment and would be looked upon as odd there. A no-win situation.

The important thing to remember in any democratic society that the power of the one when united voting together can make a difference as a collective. Failure to vote means you are happy with whichever political party is in charge. It often comes up in the news that some people think all parties are corrupt, so really if that is your way of thinking then go for the lesser of the evils and who will do the less damage. It doesn’t neglect a responsibility in voting if you don’t want a particular party in power. I’m keeping this editorial mostly neutral because I’m not here to make your mind up for you. Don’t believe the statistics alone, they only predict trends. It’s the ‘X’ on the voting paper that really counts.

There is a feeling that there is political change throughout the world these days without fully understanding the difference between right-wing and left-wing. Right-wing political parties tend towards being self-serving than helping the community, the exact opposite of left-wing political parties. Just because you want a change, just make sure you check as to which will be the safe one and more concerned about your well-being.

Personally, I tend to be suspicious of any political party that promises reducing taxes, mainly because it doesn’t explain how public utilities are paid for. Money is taken more stealthy rather than a certain honesty that we need to have finance to pay for them. I’d rather have a true assessment than have small ones that tend to take more from the poor than the rich.

Never be complacent about voting. Certainties are never sureties. Don’t forget to vote.

Thank you, take care, good night and have I made you think?

Geoff Willmetts



A Zen thought: Think and realise not all people think enough or alike.


What Qualities Does A Geek Have: To know where to look.To think intently and draw conclusions.


The Reveal: Considering the size of the population, sport only occupies a small part of the population but takes up the most time.


Observation: For the film ‘Prometheus’, it states that there is a 17 crew, yet if you count the people in the lecture, there are 16 sitting, including the android David, Meredith Vickers standing. Captain Janek is upstairs still eating breakfast. That makes 18. Later, you can add Weland and his two nurses, so that makes up to 21. You would think Janek would need to know how many people would have to be fed, more so the latter three didn’t appear to have a meal when revived.


Observation: Speaking of which, there shouldn’t be an exact match between the DNA of the Engineers and humans else we would be 7ft high blue giants. A 90% approximation would be close enough to have kinship. A 98% would be more akin to primates. Their DNA fingerprint should be in all species on Earth.


Observation: It’s easier to have an artificial gravity than anti-gravity as all you need is a centrifuge.


Observation: You would think that in the film ‘Blade Runner’ that Tyrell would have warned his employees that there were four Replicants on Earth, especially as they were likely to use subterfuge to penetrate his building. The 4D release does say four not five.


Observation: More with ‘Blade Runner’. How did Roy Batty know that Deckard didn’t kill Leon unless he was there?


Observation: An odd thing with the 1985 film ‘Predator’. After taking out the guerillas, Hawkins receives a radio message back that there are other guerillas in the area, so why hadn’t the hunter practiced on them? It’s hardly like he needed a killing field.


Observation: Looking again at the original ‘Thunderbirds’, at landing sites, they are always told Thunderbird 2 doesn’t need a runway, so they must presume it wouldn’t need one at its homebase when in fact it does. The same with Thunderbird 1. Would you think it landed vertically? This bias might have influenced General Lambert in ‘The Imposters’.


Computer Observation: Something I suspect a lot of you with laptops tend to do is leave it in sleep mode when not in use than turn it off. There is one advantage, providing you save any open files, it means it can still download W11’s updates and reboot over night. The bigger problem is if it suddenly goes into a reboot loop. Looking that up, there are 7 files kept in the memory/RAM regardless of restart and these mess things up. Shame MS has never thought to resolve that. If it happens, do a deliberate turn-off, a few second pressing the on/off button, a few seconds rest and then boot up and problem solved because the 7 files kept in RAM during every reboot get reset. You would think MS would have done something about that by now.


Feeling Stressed: Scarily, it can only get worse, so feel good that you’re holding your own.



                        If you think having free books to review isn’t enough, how about reading them months ahead of everyone? I mean real months. Beats a time machine.

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.


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:


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:

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:


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, will show you the common problems.

To submit, use our email address by joining the spaces as shown here: letters @ and use the subject matter as to what you’re submitting.

If you have any pastimes that can be used to pass the time in captivity, let me know and we’ll see if it can be turned into an article.

Comments directly to reviews should still work as before.

Good luck



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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