Culture

Editorial – June 2024: The Long Arm Of Coincidence.

Hello everyone,

When does coincidence become a conspiracy? From a statistical perspective, when events occur, a population of 8.2 billion people, and every major news item makes its way onto the Internet, the human mind is capable of recognizing a wide range of patterns, often identifying seemingly impossible connections where everything is statistically possible. With so many people, it is also inevitable that many people will see a similar pattern. However, this does not necessarily confirm the pattern—it could simply be a long-term coincidence. Consider it a synergy of events, if you prefer. Reality has a nasty way of playing with the psyche. Should you anticipate a significant event, regardless of its remoteness, it could potentially occur. Look at how many people have toyed with Nostradamus’ ‘prophecies’ over the decades, and we have no idea about his mental condition when he wrote them. You can shape anything into a pattern if you allow it sufficient freedom. This is the way the human mind operates when it’s left in a vacuum, or when it simply seeks a point of reference. Simply citing a concept from General Semantics does not establish its validity. Evidence must support it.

Oddly, it can confuse issues when there is actually a conspiracy going on. It needs substantial evidence to back it up, not wild speculation. The world isn’t some soap opera, even if there are some comparisons. Some individuals mistakenly believe they can recreate a scene from fiction in any format, overlooking the fact that soap opera writers frequently draw inspiration from real-life events and distill them into a single section of a town. If the situation were truly dire, no one would ever obtain insurance, let alone reside there. It’s difficult to determine if this is due to a lack of imagination or the assumption that people won’t notice the similarities. Fortunately, most of the time, the crimes tend to be small-scale, rather than global. Despite this, these events have the potential to reinforce each other and exert influence. Coincidence occurs more frequently than conspiracies.

Think about it. Conspiracies only really work if there are enough people with particular skills and leadership involved for them to actually work. Substantial organisations require not only time and money to set up, but also to recruit and stay under the radar. Before taking a decisive step to gain recognition, there is always a risk of being labeled as crackpots. However, there is a strong desire to identify the true perpetrators, rather than allowing a rival organization to claim credit in an unspoken protocol. Terrorist organisations tend to want to be known for their actions rather than see other terrorist organisations accused.

Editorial – June 2024: The Long Arm Of Coincidence.
Editorial – June 2024: The Long Arm Of Coincidence.

Setting up covert terrorist organisations always looks easy in fiction but is a lot harder in real life. If the traditional intelligence services become aware of them, their initial course of action would be to gather more information, identify potential members and informants, and then consider infiltrating, which is a significantly riskier undertaking. I doubt if the likes of SMERSH, Hydra, or Advanced Ideas Mechanics (A.I.M.) would work in real life. Conversely, would organizations such as Torchwood or S.H.I.E.L.D maintain their secrecy for an extended period? Any organization, good or bad, wants to be known for its activities to be effective.

From a science fiction perspective, where we are inquisitive about the workings of things, one might assume that such ideas are more carefully considered, but in reality, they are merely seen as a convenient means to advance the plot. For any genre, it is easier to work out a conspiracy than a coincidence. People have an odd habit of believing in the former rather than the latter, which writers take advantage of. It is not surprising that reality often contradicts this belief.

Quite why it works that way, I have no idea. Presumably, when there were fewer people, it was easier to work that way. Just consider the era when accusations of witchcraft led to the hanging of elderly women. The message quickly spread, serving as a strategy to drive out the villagers. Objectively, there was no need for a belief in witchcraft, although I doubt that some villagers didn’t appreciate herbal remedies. It could have been anything, as long as it incited the crowd mentality against loners. Never mind that once upon a time, they might have been someone’s mother. Targeting minorities is a habitual practice with tribal roots. We, as geeks, have endured years of bullying due to our intense interest in science fiction. Now SF films have become respectable. We have some sort of respectability ourselves, but there’s little match in the expertise we connoisseurs have across books as well as films. If something succeeded in SF films, we’d be left behind. There are no coincidences or conspiracies; it is just the way the human herd animal behaves. The real question is: do we want that kind of respectability?

The long arm of coincidence gives everything perspective, rather than making you think there’s a conspiracy under every stone. Mind you, there might be the odd one, but they do tend to come out eventually. Nothing stays hidden for long.

It is better to maintain our own judgment and preserve our geek culture.

Thank you, take care, and good night. Don’t stand on the fence; it might be spiked.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Beauty and ugliness is only skin deep.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: The ability to rewrite an editorial when something better comes up.

The Reveal: Seeing any aspect of an aurora is a shared experience.

Observation: DC’s witch Zatanna’s real ability isn’t magic but the ability to yas sdrow sdrawkcab. I wonder why she never uses palindromes?

 Observation: Now here’s a problem, In the film, ‘Prometheus’, Elizabeth Shaw takes oxygen supplies from Vickers module but not food. So what was she living off in the second engineers’ spacecraft? There is a possibility there might be some basic supplies on the vehicle she drives back to the pyramid but surely not enough for such a trip.

 Observation: If there is nothing new under the sun, that doesn’t make sense because someone must have done whatever it was in the first place. There’s always a first somewhere.

 Observation: Going to the sequel to my favourite novel, ‘The Pawns Of Null-A’ (1956), one might well add that AE Van Vogt was also the first to use what we see as commonplace to day but with different names. He called flat TV screens ‘plates’ and the Follower was a mixture of dark matter and dark energy from a discovery made in a far galaxy. The same with the description of similarisation or teleportation as we now call it. A lesser quantity moved to a greater mass is a combination of entanglement and gravity. Now that’s prolific.

 Observation: A puzzle between the original ‘Star Wars’ films is when did Luke Skywalker find the time to straighten his hair? May the comb be with you.

 Feeling Stressed: Take nothing for granted.

Submissions:-

            Wanted: Reviewers. Ideally, would suit opinionated reading fanatics who are adult loners with time on their hands with some knowledge of our genre. Experience not necessarily. Being able to string words in a sentence is. Grammar can be helped. Usually something out there to match all tastes.

                       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.

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.

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

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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