Editorial – December 2015: What a scary world we live in.

November 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

The real life boogiemen are far more frightening

than anything thought up in fiction.

Hello everyone

There is something that fiction in all its media cannot do is equal the atrocities of real life. It can come close but not quite, whether on the printed page or on the screen. Primarily, we instinctively know that when we close the book or stop watching the film or television, any bad people within aren’t likely to stay with or follow us. A bit worrying if they did. It is our ability to do this that differentiates fact from fiction and yet, oddly, it is probably what attracts us to reading about them in the first place. We might like being the action hero or heroine but I doubt if many of us would be so in real life.

Indeed, we rarely think about the victims or collateral damage. Look at any action film, using the James Bond films as an example, every car chase destroys a lot of innocent cars – imagine the insurance claims, not to mention traumatising anyone who gets near to a bullet and we haven’t gotten to injuries. As such, we recognise the difference between make-believe and reality. In real life, the media at least goes back and looks at and even interviews the victims after every calamity to see how they have coped, assuming they want to be interviewed. Such aspects are certainly left out in films who focus on the action than aftermath. Bond also has an ability to avoid lawsuits.

Our reality is such today that we can have near instant access to every news item on TV or the Internet as soon as it happens. It shrinks the world and you become aware of every bombing or street shooting and the fate of the victims. It makes life ever closer and personal. The emotional impact is different, even when we only see it in the media of our choice. If we’ve ever been near the same location, then it makes a stronger connection as you recognise landmarks. If we know the people who’ve died or been injured, then another connection exists. As the communicative world shrinks, the more connections we make to the events that happen. The impact becomes ever stronger. In urban areas, you would have to be pretty stupid not to think, there but for luck it could have been me. Reality is like that but, fortunately, although we might be apprehensive, we bring back our own sense of normality after a while because we have to get on with our lives.

(c) DC Comics

(c) DC Comics

What is often a puzzle and you have to wonder how we can sustain an interest in violent fiction in any genre after a violent atrocity. Not just now but in the past as well. When I was reviewing ‘The Golden Age Of DC Comics’ this month, a picture from the Korean War showing soldiers reading war comics seemed a little contradictory. I mean, you would think the military would want something more fantastical than see stories that might not resemble the action they were likely to see or even use as a template.

After what happened in Paris and seeing the reviews I was about to put on-line that day, I delayed a little, mostly because even though our genre can be least like our reality, it can also be the most violent. Think of how many wars between countries that happen in the fantasy genre. Science Fiction, where everything is bigger, has wars between worlds and that happened with the dawn of SF with a certain HG Wells. Should we show some sensitivity to the real world and I thought yes, but did think it ought to be discussed as an editorial.

It then becomes a jigsaw as we examine the human psyche. Is violent fiction a means to prepare us or act as a safety blanket? A means to show us a little safety that we always step away from. Such profiles change depending on the situation and how we ourselves react. One thing I doubt will happen, at least in the UK, it will never harden us enough to get used to it.

Certainly, the fiction of today is less likely to pursue such paths which no one is sure how it might turn out or copy too much the enemies around today. If anything, this kind of current war is unique and hasn’t even been explored in our genre. I mean, who would have thought that a war could be carried out where who is leader can be immaterial and the foot soldiers are already in place in the various countries. The three person cell has a lot more in common with espionage in world war scenarios, but more from the point of view of only one person from each group might know someone from another group but never beyond that. In fact, it was used in World War Two for intelligence operations so we know how effective it is.

Knowing who your enemy is and where to find them is the way traditional wars are fought, more often over territory but ideals makes for a different type of war, especially when the soldiers don’t want to come out alive. If anything, war is mostly civilised, at least on the surface, so it was inevitable that at some point it wouldn’t be and our current situation. Something we might be spared in our fiction although I doubt it. As such, conventional war tactics aren’t likely to work and that’s beyond our safety blanket.

Thank you, take care, good night and as so much advertising is going on at the moment, can I bet the first to welcome you to 2016 and hope it’s better than this 2015.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.org.uk

A Zen thought: The world changes mood depending on the sky.

Observation: With advert information being added to films and TV series, does that mean the end of historical dramas?

Observation: Why is it made to look intellectual to be holding one’s chin ie to symbolise thinking when no one does it for real.

Missed Opportunity: In the original ‘Star Trek’ story, ‘This Side Of Paradise’, the spores that brought euphoria to the colonists on Omicron Ceti III also brought a secondary side-effect of restoring the body. McCoy notes that the likes of kidneys and tonsils being restored. Granted these spores need these zeta rays to flourish, it isn’t something that can’t be produced artificially. All the doctors have to do is infect the patient and, once restored, a few slaps around the cheeks to bring them back to normal. With Vulcans, perhaps something a little heavier.

 

Category: Culture

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 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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