Turn Left at the Oort Cloud

Yesterday I mentioned that I was gonna do some schoolin’ today.  I don’t know if I should say schoolin’; more like a helping of griping that seems to come from me now and then.

But, you know, it’s fun.  It really is.  And maybe, in the end, someone will scratch their chin and go, “Humm, that Cassie is a smart woman,” instead of what they normally say, which is, “Who does this bitch think she is?”

Enough.  Moving on now . . .

As I hung out on the social media yesterday, I saw the usual presentation of books from people who are in the same position as me, which it trying to sell their wares and gain an audience.  Nothing unusual there, and I can understand wanting people to see what you are writing.  I may do the same.

But then, I see it, the synopsis for a story, and it goes like this:  Earth had dwindling resources, but hey, there’s a Super Earth in another system a few light years away, so guess what?  We’ll pack up everyone on Earth, turn it into a wasteland while we build our ships, and then rocket off to our new world!  I almost said, “Liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze,” when I saw that, but then realized I was thinking of another universe.

It’s not like I have written about this before, but as John Crichton might say, “Okay, for the 89th time . . .”  It goes like this:  if you’ve the ability to travel light years from one solar system to another, you are not going to run out of resources.  Because if you can move eight billion people from one planet here to another planet ten light years, or more, distant, then you can damn sure mine resources in your own system–which is going to be a hell of a lot cheaper in the long run.

A planet might have a limit to what there is to offer to several billion people, but once you’ve gotten to where you can get about space with few problems, then energy from the sun, or finding mineral-rich planets and asteroids, or finding water, becomes freakin’ child’s play.  Compared to flying sixteen light years to 40 Eridani A–which may or may not be the home of Mr. Spock–getting a light year out into the part of your solar system where all those cold, icy comets roam is simplicity squared.

I know what’s going on here, though:  you’re looking at a classic example of what is known in some sci fi circles as MacGuffinite.  Alfred Hichcock coined the term “MacGuffin” as a device to move the characters and plot along, but that would have no actual relevance to the story.  MacGuffinite is the magical element that’s going to get the people in your story to decide, “Hey, space travel is great, lets pack up the plantation and head for Canopus and find us some sandworms to ride!”  And in the process you eat up Earth and leave it behind, and no one lives there anymore ’cause . . .  well, ’cause.

I mean, I could blame this on Joss Whedon, because he “used up old Earth” before heading out to The ‘Verse, but we know science makes him cry, so I’ll give him a pass.  But for you other science fiction writers out there, listen up:  you don’t have to leave home to find goodies.  In one of my series I more or less blew up Earth, but that doesn’t mean the Solar System is deserted, because hell, people, you got plenty of places for people to live, and a whole lot of resources to pick from to keep life going.

It’s called trying to keep it real, and it’s one of the reasons if you have a story with aliens showing up asking for water, you should just blast their asses, because they’re lying their little gray butts off.

Sure, it’s fiction . . .

But it doesn’t have to be dumb fiction.