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.

The Stars and the Chasm

Monday nights after work are usually filled with brain dead activities, because after that first long day of the week, I don’t feel like doing much.  It’s never a good feeling, because you sit there and feel as if you’re empty of energy, that your biorhythms are not only at their lows, but they are never returning to something akin to normal.

It makes it difficult to write, because to write you need your mind, you need your imagination, and when both are stuck in neutral  it means your story isn’t going anywhere.  However, I found my interest being nudged by something that wasn’t actually writing related.  It was, but not that way–

As I’d mentioned yesterday, I needed to put a solar system together for a friend.  It’s not a big deal to do this–I’ve had experience, so you just need to figure out a few things, then go to town getting it done.  But it does take time:  one does not simply wave their hands and a solar system appears.

I brought up my programs, I found some figures, and I started plugging numbers.  When I’d reached the place where I could make from pretty pictures from screen shots to show my writer friend, nearly ninety minutes had come and gone.  This was a good thing, however, as I was now awake.  My mind had begun churning, and by the time I’d zipped together everything I needed to zip off to my friend, the toxins that keep you in a stupor had vanished.

I was awake.  Which meant I could now write.

My own Muse told me that doing something like designing a solar system was sometimes needed, because it broke up the routine and forced the brain to do something else beside what it’s always doing.  If you’re writing all the time, then read or design something–do something that’ll allow your mind to work without working at the same thing again and again.  With me, it was building other worlds.  With you it might be . . . crocheting.  Unless you crochet all the time, then you might want to take up modeling, or something.

With that I found time to write before heading off to bed.  What did I write?

Pain.

My story muse isn’t in a good place right now.  She’s upset, she’s feeling down . . . she’s lonely.  The other night my main male character made a remark about her age.  Um, not good.  Erin the muse isn’t in the right frame of mind to be reminded that she’s older than–well, just about everything.  As she points out, she saw Spartans get their asses kicked at the Hot Gates.  She talked dirty to Cleopatra and gave Nefertiti back rubs.  She was even around before that, which gave Keith, her charge, an idea about how old she really was–

Old and randy.  But that’s another story.

After the heights of system creation, it was time to dig down into the dirt of immortality, and the loneliness it must bring to anyone whose lived long enough to see nearly all of written human history.  You have your friends who are equally immortal, but after a couple of thousand years, who wants to hang with them all the time?  Particularly when you know a fraction of them have to be complete doucherockets, and who wants to put up with that crap?

I feel sorry for my muse, but it’s life.  And Suggestive Amusements is probably going to get a lot sadder before I crawl out of the chasm and back to where I can see the stars.

Hang in there:  it’s gonna be a rough ride.