Occasionally, this time of year, we might drop in an April Fool. All right, that might have been yesterday, today or tomorrow depending on where you are in the Earth’s timeline when you read this editorial. Considering that depending where you live in the world and when the first of April happens, there’s a three day date relatively speaking. Whatever, the problem is we’ve tended to be rather too convincing in the past and either people believed or didn’t react to them. Maybe our honesty precedes us or you just trust us too much.
The problem now is with so many proclamations of fake and real news circulating, how can anyone tell the difference on 1st April anymore? Sort of takes the fun out of it when real news is taking a nosedive all of its own and people proclaiming that they don’t believe anything or even more ridiculously believe fake or misinformed news as gospel. There has to be something wrong with the educational system when people can’t tell the difference or don’t develop a level of cynicism to anything suspect.
So let’s talk truths instead. Are we that good at telling the difference between truth and lies and things in between? Our ability to believe in the possibility of fantastic beasts, albeit alone and not in breeding herds has to be one of them. Out in the wilderness, some things might be possible but less so infringing on where Man has grown his territory and then you would have to wonder why signs like bones or pooh hasn’t been found. The possibility does exist because new species are found all the time but they don’t tend to be creatures of any particular large size anymore. Logistically, there has to be life out there in the galaxy but extra-terrestrials checking us out from time to time could be seen to stretch things, too. It’s a long trip without being detected in some way. But even those who study UFOs will tell you they tend to sieve reports given to them to remove those that have been misidentified before thinking unknown or extra-terrestrial. Odd sky phenomena always leaves the chance one day that it might be actually be flown by an extra-terrestrial on a tourist trip. With so many people carrying phones incorporating cameras, you would think the number of recorded UFO sightings would have gone up but hasn’t. Maybe their heads on down on the screens and not in the skies.
Oddly, if a news report of sasquatch in a flying saucer landed outside of the White House tomorrow I think most of us would shake our heads and change the channel and maybe check other news channels for confirmation, especially on April Fool’s Day. Some of us might enlarge the picture and look for CGI in the anti-aliasing (that’s the TV stuff that ensure the pixels don’t look blocky although the joins are better these days) where the sasquatch hair is concerned as a giveaway but I doubt if that would be true evidence. Many would want to see the creature in person to really believe it. If they show an empty White House lawn or the sasquatch is a short guy and the flying saucer a wooden prop then you would have to consider this might be fake news, especially if accompanied by a certain president. Any of us particularly savvy might well consider this as a distraction from something else happening and probably check the world news on the Net to see what else is going on or likely to happen. The right hand must work out what the left hand is doing or is it the other way around? What if you’re ambidextrous?
Whatever, it’s now possible to have an April Fool all day every day and be confident that you will be in a situation when you can fool everyone all the time or have no one caring beyond what’s happening on their own doorstep.
Even so, when many news channels share the same news source, it can make misinformation easy to circulate. Any verification from other sources would come later. At least, I hope they still do. Saying that, one news service in the USA doesn’t even go that far but no one bats an eyelid, largely because there’s an indoctrination that all news channels are truthful even if they have their own agendas. After all, they can’t all be wrong deliberately, can they?! Keep watching out for that sasquatch.
Logistically, the Internet is also making a mess of the news and if there are any reforms that need to be made it is the means to verify what is accurately reported. I’m saying ‘accurate’ deliberately. What people might say can vary from what they consider a self-truth, short of libel or even including that, to misinformed information that they perceive as a truth and been fooled or misguided. This is different to a major environment event like an earthquake, volcano eruption or an oil slick amongst other things. As you should realise by now, in a world where white lies as a means of protection of others can live happily in a world of lies. It’s a confusing world where we need more truths to balance things out and a confirmation process that can be trusted.
Oddly, not all countries have similar laws of libel or slander and often depend on a lot of money to defend your name from, shall we call them, untruths. You would think that an actual truth could be proven in such situations but that would make things too easy. Sometimes, I really do wish we had the handy portable AI lie detectors that were so prevalent in AE Van Vogt’s ‘Null-A’ books that could discern the truth simply by touching them. You only need an extra brain or a belief that you are the Sleeping God to confuse them and I doubt if that happened very often. Truth and honesty should always have a factual basis.
Even so, any news item should be capable of verification against a level of truth called facts. If your background knowledge is reasonably sound or you know which sites to have encyclopaedic knowledge on particular subjects, then things can always be looked up against historical knowledge, especially those related to organisations involved and a country’s laws. That is, of course, assuming you have the time or interest to do so. With the Internet, a lot of the news is there in small byte chunks to be quickly read, absorbed and move on. It isn’t there to give you all but the basic information, even in a concise manner. If anything, it is more akin to televised news where information is given in 5 minutes. At least with newspapers, you can get some more in-depth knowledge on bigger subjects. It does pay to study things in depth. It all helps with the evaluating process.
Then we go back to the Internet. Considering how much of a technological protocol it is, you would have thought by now that some bots would have been designed to scan information for accuracy, check across other sources for verification and flash up on-screen an accuracy rating as to how much you should trust or believe the information given. No doubt someone one would work out a way to hack that at some point or even fool such bots but it would be better than what we currently have. It could certainly be used to verify some news information by asking the people being reported on as to whether something about them is true no matter how embarrassing it might be for them or give the chance for a response or denial. Reliable news sources would up the accuracy level and a sign of death against any of the so-called fake news that gets distributed out there. It might slow down the speed news is flashed on the Net but at least you know some effort was taken to ensure it was truthful.
News needs to be accurate or at least contested publicly when it is obviously wrong and denounced. Having a level of honesty out there enforces what we trust. If we can believe reviews or assessments of products then it certainly needs to be extended to real events. You’ll be telling me next that advertisers don’t lie or misinform about their products.
Thank you, take care, good night and never forget the sasquatch stole that flying saucer.
A Zen thought: Life in a cloud takes a whole different meaning these days.
Observation: There is one major problem with the mothership arrival in ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, how did the humans know that they would need a multi-colour light box to communicate with the aliens?
Observation: I wonder what Donald Trump would do if he saw the 1982 TV series ‘Whoops! Apocalypse’. He’d probably side with President Johnny Cyclops and wonder why his portrait isn’t in the White House somewhere and investigate the attics.
Feeling Stressed: Wait until the modem in your computer dies.
If you aren’t seeing the types of book 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.
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!!! I’ve got two more reviewers in the past couple months and always need more. 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: 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, providing they live in the UK. 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, especially as I’m hunting for fantasy reviewers right now, 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, 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 and in the SFC Forum for this and 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!
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.
PPS Don’t forget to join the SFCrowsnest Forum. Join up and express your thoughts in leaving typed words that make sentences. I’ve noticed many of you are joining up but the Forum isn’t supposed to be a passive site. If you want convention news and other things like that, it can be handy and some publishers even hand out their schedules for signings and such. Remember the editorial above. I’m not advocating a vow of silence. Well, unless you’re a monk but I doubt if that precludes typing. Are you going to be a lurker or a typer??!! Remember the editorial above, passivity is for sheep not a sentient species. The number of hits shown on the Forum aren’t daily, but for every ten minutes! Write something and others will respond if you have something to say. Equally, you could just be a guest and look around, especially as we release a lot of news that way, but the more the merrier when you have something to say. You don’t have to sign up to have a look as to when these things are happening and I’ve yet to hear of a flash crowd turning up for such things but there’s always the first time. We’re not libel for that if you do such a thing, just to keep my boss happy.
Don’t forget, I’m always on the lookout for new reviewers as well as articles, interviews and stories and after some recent changes, let’s see if the full details about that appears below. If they don’t then look in the new Forum or on the link line at the top of the main page. 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.
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.