Editorial – March 2017: Memory test.

February 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

Although I don’t channel surf other than to look at the screen TV guide, if I spot something like ‘Star Trek’ or ‘The Avengers’ (the Steed version not the super-heroes), I might pop onto the channel briefly to see which episode they are showing for all of a few seconds. In such a short interval of time, I can not only identify the episode often by name or season but even what is going on in any particular scene.

A lot of that could be put down to repeat viewings over the years and the kind of memory I have. Thing is, it can also apply to the likes of ‘The Big Bang Theory’. Although I have to wait for season 10 to get to the start of its cycle again before watching, having caught up last year, I can brief scan an episode for a few seconds and tell whether I’ve seen it before or not and, sometimes, a little more. I might have seen a few episodes a couple times before watching in order, but this also applies to many I only saw once. Sometimes, with other shows, too. Of course, quality hooks into memory well, but it did lead me to thinking that this instant recall applies to other SF and genre fans as a whole. That and how far does it range. I can see the corner of many of my 5000 plus wallpapers and mostly instantly identify which one it is as well but that might just be me. Like all of us genre fans, we keep a lot of incidental trivia in our heads whether we want to or not.

Some of you out there can do this with particular TV shows down to minute detail level. I’m more general because I need to cover a lot more across the range, although I doubt if anyone is truly expert on everything in our genre anymore. There is simply too much to have seen and read and not enough hours. Just that I can appear a little scary by dredging up information about books and such I’ve read once years ago, having a good memory or knowing how to research quickly is a useful part of the job as editor. That and knowing whether the information I’m looking at is accurate or not. With the Internet, I tend to become suspicious when information is just copied from site to site because it also allows mistakes to be carried as well and no one’s doing the research of looking at the source material and doing their own analysis. Any expertise I have comes from my own analysis and asking the right questions. It’s good for the brain and memory and not relying totally on what I can recall but can verify for accuracy. I’m not usually far out either way but I suspect the new generations aren’t going to be as analytical as me. Such exercises are good for the brain, too, no matter what career you’re in.

It’s a shame my scientific knowledge didn’t resurface at the same rate until much older but I think my memory works better when I don’t focus on what I need to know until I need to know if you see what I mean. Mind you, it could also be enhanced by Omega 3 which is good for synapse reaction and memory as well.

We each have our own way to recall things. Having good recall, I tend to be interested in the nature of memory and why more people always can’t do it like me. My late Mother often said it was easier to run through the alphabet looking for the right word when it comes to remembering. Bit awkward when I ended up at Z and it still doesn’t click, but often did better stopping to thinking about the subject and let my unconscious mind suddenly spring it on me later with a lot of other trivia as well. If that sounds familiar to how you do it, you might want to see if your neurones can associate with a place where the information lies in your house and see if it can make connections that way. I did that with surprising results a couple months back. Don’t ever think people who can recall a lot of information can’t get stuck on the odd name or information and I’m not putting that down to age. Memory in all of its forms has to be practiced to recall information over several decades.

In this age of the Internet, there is a tendency to rely too much on it for information, let alone whether that it is also completely correct. If we lose the ability to know the difference or test it, then we stand to live in a world of misinformation. It’s given me an idea for a story although that one is problematic because you might come away believing what I write is true so is going to need some heavy thinking. Believing inaccuracy to be true makes for a scary world that no one has ever dreamed up in Science Fiction. Mind you, as we live in an SF reality and that’s already happening, I suspect this might be an warning call that most of us are smug enough to know the difference, there are a lot of people who don’t as well. That beats any horror story and should be continually sending shivers down your spine.

Stupidity must never be seen as a good option. If we see that as a good option, then we are truly doomed. Don’t for…what was that word again?


Thank you, take care, good night and never forget and check anything for accuracy.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.org.uk


A Zen thought: Life exists from our memories.


A Zen thought: The distance between a falsehood and a belief is less than a lie.


A Zen thought: Never be afraid to say sorry for a mistaken belief.


For those who are wondering: Sorry about the loss of the SFC Forum. The old software that worked it finally broke down. Expect the likes of Convention news getting its own column link off the main page soon.


Observation: Considering that there are two current alternative realities TV series where the Nazis won World War Two, you do have to wonder why no one has thought to do an update of the 1971 TV series ‘The Guardians’ where a fascist regime takes over the UK and shows what would really happen. Quarmby, where are you when we need you?


Observation: I know why the dates change, it’s to remind you times are changing and you have to keep up.


Observation: In ‘2001’, when Dave Bowman enters the Discovery through the emergency airlock sans helmet and gloves, it’s been acknowledged that he picked up a helmet in there before getting into the main body of the ship, which is also in vacuum. Granted, it makes sense that there would be a spare helmet in the airlock in case there’s a problem when air is evacuated but a spare pair of gloves? All right, maybe there is some logic in having a spare spacesuit available in the emergency airlock, too, if you had to go out in an emergency but a bit unfortunate if both astronauts were in there.


Feeling Stressed: There’s always someone more idiotic than yourself. Some even make a career out of it.


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.

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.


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.


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.


Category: Culture


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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