Editorial – July 2017: Should politics be the next SF frontier or has it beaten us there already?

July 2, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

Hello everyone

Like with all my material, I have files for story, article and editorial ideas. These might be a brief idea or several paragraphs, left to percolate for a time for when it might be suitable to be used. Age can put an often different perspective on things. If I haven’t got anything topical in mind, I browse my editorial file to either pick something that can apply today or might inspire something else. I’m saying all of this to put the paragraph below into context as I wrote it at the end of January this year and let it get side-tracked. Suddenly, it looks topical:-

Politics is a dirty word. Far more treacherous than espionage, full of lies and self-servers no matter where you live in the world. It’s amazing anything is done for the people that those elected are supposed to represent. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in politics for the right reason but working through the mire must be problematic. If anything, outside of dictatorships, they don’t always stay in office forever but they also speak the same language and, across countries, rarely have complete trust in each other. It’s also unusual that it’s not more in stories in our genre. Well, that’s outside of monarchies and so forth which is sort of self-limiting although I do think that authors are afraid of handling any other sort of political system. Then again, most characters in stories tend to be honest and you can only do, at most, one lying character at a time or confuse the reader.

Even so, you would have thought more SF stories would come up.

Now you know something of how my mind works. Geek happens.After all, any of the above can get an SF tweak like adding a spot of extended life or someone who can inspire trust but not really trustworthy.

 

Looking at the current events in the UK right now, when I turn my objectivity on full, the surprising thing was the 70% turn out to vote, an incredible 30% rise in two years for our General Election. So much for the thought circulating by the UK media before this General Election that people in the UK were fed up with voting. If anythingElection that people were fed up with voting., it looks like the blood is up for it, especially in the new generation of voters. I had a thought about that. With all the polls on the Net and how many people add their names to them and getting political response in Parliament, I suspect people have gotten used to knowing they can cause a difference. That’s a strong demonstration of democracy in action.

Of course, circumstances can change in different countries but I think people are learning that the power of the collective vote can make a difference If anything, it’s more a question of getting into regular practice and more willing to do so. Things will have to change. Politics is no longer divorced from normal living. We see the effects constantly and, more importantly, know who’s causing it. That doesn’t mean everyone gets it but enough voters of the coming generations will know. The media and press have certainly made some odd choices as to representative sampling but how, outside of a cybercafe, are you going to find Internet users to ask if and how that their votes are finally being recognised. I could even speculate that some of the 30% comes from people on-line where the media rarely takes meaningful polls and forget we’re filling in polls of various sorts all the time. As we’re used to dissenters and misinformation, I doubt if we can be second-guessed by snap polls of opinion. If anything, we are the hidden voters, able to resist advertising promos because we subconsciously ignore them so it will make things interesting when we are supposedly targeted. Another sign that the world is changing.

Being in a Science Fiction reality, should we be surprised that politics and the type of people in it will have to change as well to match the new world? The collective groan when there’s someone in charge who doesn’t at least appreciate science but wants to take a backward step is getting increasingly deafening. There’s a new rule book being made that baffles current politicians and at least their media spinners. Oddly, SF hasn’t been ahead on this at all and it isn’t as though we haven’t had political SF stories in the past, although we’ve only strayed only into a couple political systems because the other five or so variants are rarely active any more. Even so, it does tend to back-seat other regimes or, as with the Cold War, shows the difference and one to avoid.

Looking at how world-wide politics is changing, you would hope that there would be some reflection of it in our genre even if it’s only to satirise it.

There are lessons learnt here that can be applied. Political systems need change but also stability to survive. Disruptive political systems rarely last for long. If anything, where voting is concerned, people like things orderly so, after a vote, things can return to ‘normal’, whatever that means. Probably why even the most extreme political systems can only be tolerated for so long. It’s the stuff of SF and so easily ignored. If it’s expertise, then maybe SF doesn’t attract political experts as writers. Even so, that hasn’t stopped anyone before. Maybe we can show political thriller writers that the SF variants increases not diminishes the problem.

If you are creating a new reality, spare some thought into what makes governing them work or not as the case might be. It doesn’t even have to be the main thrust of the story but it does have an effect on how the results are affected.

 

Thank you, take care, good night and Science Fiction needs votes, too, always remember, a vote by one is many en masse.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.org.uk

 

A Zen thought: I think, therefore I thumb.

 

What Qualities Does A Super-Geek Have: The ability to think outside of a group but to understand when a group might be needed.

 

Observation: If there was an extra-terrestrial landing on the Earth right now, the news would probably get on-line first. As such, at least 90% will call it as fake news and the remaining 10% will want a vote as to whether it was true or not.

 

Observation: The current ITV crime show ‘The Loch’ has yet to bring forward any Zygons as the possible serial killer.

 

 

Feeling Stressed: Still imagine how I feel.

 

Missed Opportunity:

            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 in your writing, you stand a chance that I can use you. Email me at: gfwillmetts at hotmail.com as I need more reviewers!!!

 

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.

SHORT STORIES

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.

NOVEL-LENGTH SAMPLES

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.

Good luck.

Geoff

Category: Offworld Report, World getting weirder

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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.

Comments (2)

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  1. avatar EamonnMurphy says:

    SF used to be quite political – Heinlein especially. Double Star was all about a politician and there’s a lot of politics in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and they both won the Hugo. Frank Herbert’s Dune series is much concerned with how things are run.
    Can’t think of anyone modern but in fantasy L.E.Modesitt Jr’s books have carefully worked out political and economic systems.
    I don’t think SF is done with politics yet.

  2. avatar UncleGeoff says:

    Hello Eamonn
    Accent on the ‘used to be’. Even when it is used, as in things like ‘Star Wars’, the Empire didn’t seem that oppressive. I suspect the planets closer to Coruscant were pretty well off compared to out-planets like Tatooine.

    Modesitt is a world-builder so he would consider such things.

    Geoff

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