IT’S HISTORY

Relaxing Sunday afternoon spent in front of the TV unwinding and enjoying doing nothing. Watched two films, Percy Jackson : Sea of Monsters and Night at the Museum : Secret of the Tomb. Classic Sunday afternoon fare really, fantasy action, thrills and spills.

Good times.

Now the relative merits of these films could be debated for an age, as all films could be, but they both start with a similar ideas. Taking characters from history and playing about with them.

Greek Gods or magically re-animated dinosaurs, the pages of the history of planet Earth can lend all kinds of new fuel for writing.

Now a couple of weeks ago, I spoke about the power of putting things together that wouldn’t normally interact and figures and events from history can be a good way to do this but it’s so very much more than that.

All kinds of characters and locations are there to be explored in ways of understanding and deciphering the human condition. Having modern day characters have to try and relate to ones from centuries ago can make it easier to hold ourselves up to the light.

But just by using the characters from history or mythology, we can see that maybe, humanity has always had to deal with the same issues. Talking dinosaurs can allow us to discuss painful ideas without the risk of being too real. We can examine ideas and work through problems which can be too uncomfortable but for talking animals.

Now the fun doesn’t stop there.

What could happen if we start to look at people or events from any and all points in the past from the opposite standpoint from what we all know?

The classic of ‘What if the Nazi’s had won WW2?’ is a well known place to start. What if the USSR had won the race to the moon? What if the extinction level event which did for the dinosaurs had never happened? Dr. Horrible is the classic villain yet he’s the focus of the story.

By shuffling the deck, we story tellers get the chance to re-write history in whatever way we can dream up and that can mean we can hold up to the light any and all possibilities that cross our minds.

Everyone strap in and enjoy the ride.

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WOULD YOU?

I watched the latest installment in the Star Trek universe over the weekend and was really impressed with what Discovery delivered. It was a large enough ‘nod’ to the original series to highlight where it sat in the overall timeline without it becoming just a way for die hard fans just to pat themselves on the back for seeing all of them.

As always when there is a new addition to an already existing property like Star Trek, the creators made choices about all kinds of things as a way of stamping their own individuality onto the series and these included the design of the uniforms, the ship and bridge design and what the Klingons looked like, and it’s the Klingons that made me think.

What would the circumstances have been in the Star Trek universe where the first human and alien got together and created an offspring?

The ‘Half-Breed’ is a regular visitor to the pages of science fiction and fantasy. A character who has a foot in two camps but who belongs in neither. As a story telling tool, that character can allow you to hold the idea of accepting outsiders up to the light in a very interesting way. It can allow you to ask questions about societies and how those on the outside could be treated versus the in group.

But also the sheer mechanics of the situation isn’t addressed in any way other than negatively on the most part.

Have you read a book where the ‘Half-Breed’ characters are the result of an act of violence to a human woman? An attack by the brutish Ogre or the like results in the offspring who will be forever doomed to suffer and very often, the mother dies in childbirth.

Now Star Trek didn’t do this.

Star Trek had the ‘Half-Breed’ character but rather than relegating them to a tragic role where they were always downtrodden and horrifically treated at every turn, those characters were brought to the front of the stage. Mr. Spock, half human, half Vulcan, is seen as not quite fully one or the other and fills the role of the classic ‘Half-Breed’ but he’s also strongly the second in command of the Enterprise. He has a position of power. He’s struggling with the situation but is doing it from a point that isn’t simply from the bottom of  the social pyramid. Deanna Troi is a similar character in The Next Generation.

But alongside the societal change, these characters have been born into a life of love. Their parents loved each other and there was never a hint that the women involved did so against their will. There isn’t even the threat that it was all down to a powerful male alien ‘coupled’ with a weak human female. Troi’s mother was the extra terrestrial whereas it was Spock’s father.

Now back to the Klingons.

When the Klingons first appeared on the screen in the original series, they didn’t have the bumpy forehead and the limit of their otherness was kept to their skin tone and the angle of their eyebrows. We move to the films and then TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise and the Klingons have the brow ridges of doom, more aggressive looking uniforms and dentition that came directly from the mouth of a predator. They were made to look further from humans to ensure that there was always that question mark in play. The narrative brought them closer to humanity as alliances were formed but there needed to still be a risk, just not too much. Worf, the resident Klingon on TNG has a son with a Klingon/human, K’Ehleyr, showing that inter species relationships had been taking place for a little while.

And so, to Discovery.

The Klingons are now looking very much like monsters. The ridges on the heads have grown further in prominence and any and all hair is a thing of the past. Their heads have changed shape a little and their skin is now very far away from anything human with greys and blues to the fore. Their uniforms look more like bone and they wield their aura of brutality with a greater air of the animal. They truly personify the warrior race.

But will that mean that future inter species relationships are now less likely?

Who knows?

The idea of exploring the landscape of having a relationship outside of our species is currently abhorrent, bestiality being utterly wrong. But Star Trek is showing that with the arrival of sentient forms of life, beings who can relate and feel in the same way as we can, a new breed of people, why wouldn’t, why shouldn’t we feel free to expand our horizons? They say there are plenty more fish in the sea, what if our next ‘fish’ in the love stakes is actually an extra terrestrial who does indeed share features with a fish? The Shape of Water anyone?

Maybe the Klingons and The Shape of Water are just another way of showing that we connect with far more than just the face of the person before us and we just need to keep an open mind to the possibilities. Certainly expands the way I can tell stories in the future.

LIFE AFTER DEATH

I’ve been working on a new batch of short stories for a second collection book to be released next year, and with Halloween just around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to unveil the first offering.

This story tries to look into the existence of Death.

The hulk twisted through the unending nothing of deep space. Occasionally there was a flash of an isolated light to signify that the pulse reactors deep in the heart of the once mighty ship were still producing flickers of power, but there was no consistent drive and it was clear to anyone who would have happened to look in the direction of the ‘Laputa’ that this ship was already as good as dead.

The black clad figure stood on the outer surface of the ship, in line with what would have been the largest loading bay if it had still been intact, and just gazed out longingly at the emptiness of the universe and the few far off stars that were visible.

For the so very many years that Death had travelled all existence, carrying out the ultimate task of reaping the life from every being there had ever been, she’d never ever considered what beauty there was all around her. She clasped tightly to the shaft of the implement that had gone with her all of these years she’d travelled, her skeletal fingers creaking more than the scythe despite the lack of atmosphere. Over the ages, she’d used so very many different versions of this tool to claim the lives of everything she’d come across. Guns of all manner of design, all possible kind of bladed weapon and even as far as constructs of other living creatures to fit within a given food chain, but at this point she felt, and didn’t really understand why, that the scythe, the classic implement, was the way to go.

She was brought crashing from the considerations of her mind when the ship lurched under her feet.

Peering over the ruined edge of the blast crater that had been the loading bay, she saw what she had been drawn here for.

The tiniest flare of fire blossomed deep within the ship, behind one of the many sealed emergency doors which had slammed shut when the original accident had taken place, but even that barest push had been enough. Decades of exposure to space had taken its toll on the ‘Laputa’ and that gentle nudge had been enough to blow out the pressure seal of the door and expel what small volume of trapped gases there had been behind.

That in turn had been enough to dislodge some mangled debris and send it floating free of the ship along with a handful of other crates and boxes, and crucially, the very last functioning cryo-chamber on the ship, containing the very last human in the universe.

Death strode out into the nothing as if walking on a smooth, rigid surface and made her way to intercept the chamber.

She began wondering about the details of what she was going to do and let her mind wander around the specifics. ‘Why was she here now?’ ‘The chamber was leaving the hulk behind as it floated free but there was nothing about her that was likely to destroy it, and therefore the creature inside so it was odd she’d been drawn here’. ‘Pre-emptive strike?’

She arrived next to the chamber and just stared at it trying to work it out but didn’t have to wait long. One of the other crates from the ship was nudged ever so slightly from the cloud of debris and just grazed the chamber before heading off on its own way to oblivion. That graze had been enough to hit just the right pads on the chamber and Death could see the outcome clearly.

First there had been a flash of golden light and then an expulsion of gases and finally, the chamber cracked in half as it opened.

Onboard any ship, when this process had taken place, there had been an atmosphere surrounding the contents of the chamber as it was released. Out here now, there was nothing so the result was going to be clear.

The man inside wasn’t even conscious.

It had been a miracle that life had remained for so long despite all of the horrors which had befallen the others on the ship. A miracle that the power had remained for this long. A miracle that the chamber hadn’t been destroyed before now. A miracle that the ship was just floating derelict with this one survivor for all these years.

But time had run out for this poor man.

Death reverted to her role.

With a mighty backswing, although not strictly required, she felt this lonely person deserved the full treatment from her, she whipped her scythe through him from head to toe, traversing a path directly through all of his body. The stroke left no physical clues as to its passing, it never did, but as Death held up the blade to inspect it, glinting within, producing a light source of its own, was the very life energy of the man. But he wasn’t alone. There was also the bacteria which had been in his gut, what looked like some kind of fungus and something she could only assume was some kind of virus. Add to that some other things that she’d never really taken the time to understand and it was clear that all of the life that had been within the cryo-chamber was now gone.

The man just looked the same. He was still sleeping.

Stopping her momentum, she just stood in the emptiness and watched the open chamber drift away from her.

“I wonder if I should just follow him as he falls through space?” she spoke aloud.

“That won’t be necessary,” said a deep male voice from behind her.

It’s fair to say that Death hadn’t been expecting a response so she felt her reply of screeching a dry cry and whirling with the scythe towards the voice was perfectly justified.

The owner of the voice didn’t react in the slightest as the mighty blade slashed through him. Not past him, through him in the same way that it had for the man in the chamber. This time, though, there was no further movement and no light was taken from the person to build within the blade. If Death had had features she would have been frowning. No-one had ever been immune to the power of her scythe.

She quickly re-gathered her composure, but still held herself ready for the unexpected.

The other figure was robed in exactly the same way as she was and carried with him, a scythe just like hers, though she could see clearly that the blade on the scythe was pristine to the point of having never been used.

He nodded slowly in what could have been a greeting before speaking.

“I give you my most humble salutation, Death. I have waited so very long to meet you.”

“And you are?” Death didn’t stand on ceremony at the best of times so having someone jump out on her wasn’t going to change her way of doing something.

“I am Death,” said the hooded man and gripped the wooden shaft of his scythe with a skeletal hand that, despite being the same as hers, made her feel slightly on edge.

“You can’t be Death, I am. I am, and always have been, the reaper of the life of all things in this universe. So who are you really?”

“If you are Death, my lady, then I am Death, too.”

His voice was hypnotic and despite the confusion that his presence was causing, she was feeling more comfortable with each second.

There was a second Death.

“And you’re here to help me in my task of taking the lives?”

Death too took a stride closer to Death before answering.

“No, my lady.”

“So you do the same but we’ve never met before? I find that hard to believe.”

“We do indeed do the same thing, my lady and it is indeed true that we have never met before.” Again his voice was just so calming.

Death considered this.

“So were you meant to reap that man and all of the other life in him? Did I beat you to it?”

“Oh no, my lady. The task of claiming the contents of that, container,” he beckoned to the cryo-chamber as it continued away from them. “You were always meant to be here to claim that which you did.”

“OK,” said Death and felt confused.

“So are you supposed to be claiming more life from the ship? Is there other life you have to reap?”

“No the ship is quite devoid of anything resembling life. I am here for you, my lady.”

“You’re here for me? What does that mean? You said that you weren’t here to help me?” This was ridiculous.

Death too dropped back his hood to reveal the same skull head as Death but this time, Death felt terror coming from that bone visage. Death too was causing her to feel terror.

“If you’re not here to help me, are you replacing me? Do I get to put my burden down after all these years?”

Death too dropped his head very slightly, as if looking at the ground that wasn’t beneath their feet.

“No, my lady,” he began while still looking down. “You have completed the work you had been charged with.”

Death didn’t understand.

“With the action of claiming the contents of that chamber, you have reaped the final examples of any form of life in the universe. There is now nothing left that is alive, so there will never be anything that dies. As such, Death is no longer needed in this universe, so I am here to claim the life that is you.”

Death swung the scythe again, and again it passed harmlessly through the robes of Death too, having no more effect than if it had been passing through a cloud of smoke. Death too remained still as Death swiped again and again, each time hoping for a different reaction.

Eventually, Death stopped swinging. Breathlessly, despite the utter lack of so many of the things needed to breathe, she spoke.

“I am Death. I cannot die. I am eternal through all of the ages that are and shall be. What makes you think that I will allow you to try to claim me?”

Death too raised his gaze from the floor and fixed it on Death.

“Firstly my lady, if you have nothing more to reap as all life is gone, what are you for? What should you do now?” Death listened on, preparing to respond. “Secondly, how can you feel such fear from simply being gazed upon by me? You are eternal and unending yet you grip to the fear of what your own death would represent in the same way as some of the creatures you have claimed. Death should elicit no fear in those who cannot die.” Death didn’t like the soothing tone anymore. “But thirdly, it is what I am here to do.”

They both stopped at those words.

“Since you existed,” Death too continued, “have you ever known a time before doing what you do now? Have you a memory of a time before you were Death?”

Silence in response.

“Can you recall when it was that you were asked to complete the task of Death? Did you take up the reaping because you saw it as virtuous or needed?”

Death opened her skinless, lipless mouth to answer but no words came. She couldn’t.

“In the same way that you’ve always been, always followed the same path, as have I. I ‘know’ that my task is to claim Death as that is all I’ve known since the very beginning of me. If you’ve continued with your work for as long as you have because you knew you had to, doesn’t that mean that I have the same level of conviction to my ‘known’?”

Death stepped back but wasn’t feeling like giving up just yet.

“But if I had such conviction to complete what I have to, why would I just drop my guard to anyone. You’re not the first person who said they were going to end Death you know?”

Death too seemed to smile.

“But I am the first to say that, not only with the power to do it but also the knowledge of life, or indeed the lack thereof, in the universe. You’re finished. Your life’s work is complete. With the action behind you,” he gestured again at the man in the cryo-chamber, “you have reaped the final life anywhere, thereby making your role in the tapestry of existence, superfluous.”

Death considered his words and attempted to construct a response but there was nothing to say.

Until.

“But life could reappear, couldn’t it?” She stood taller and made an unconscious step forwards, almost as a challenge. “I can feel the absence of life, likely in the same way you can, but I also recognise the fact that abiogenesis could happen at any time. Life springing from non-life has happened before, you know that, so why wouldn’t it happen again? And if it could, surely there would still be the need for Death to oversee the growth of that life?” She felt triumphant and could hold close to her chest the relative certainty that she’d undone all of the twine Death too had been wrapping around her.

In response to the clear defeat, Death too just maintained a fixed focus on her, looking into her eyes and driving a fear into her that she’d been doing her best to push aside but that resisted every effort.

As he spoke, his voice sounded sad.

“It may indeed. Life is an agile quarry and as such it’s one that we’ve all got to be vigilant for, but without life in the universe, you represent an imbalance between the forces of life and death. It still holds that if there is nothing which is alive, how can there be a need for Death? Until a time that there is life, Death is nothing more than an empty threat. Could you reap a star? Would you appear to claim the life force of a rock? Could our scythe claim the life of space?”

He looked back at where the floor should have been.

Death ground her teeth as she did her best to build a response but no matter what she tried, there wasn’t one. She’d thought that she’d be able to see a way out but she just couldn’t.

Now her voice was sad.

“So death is gone from the universe, reaped by you,” she sighed with a resolution. “So, to me, there are two questions that come from that. If I’m gone and life returns to the universe, who will reap that life? The other is, if you claim me, doesn’t that mean that you then have no purpose? Wouldn’t that mean that you would need to be reaped, and then so on for eternity?”

Death too stood still and, deep within the nothingness that was the farthest reaches of deep space from anywhere, seemed to consider the questions. There wasn’t the ready response which had been in place for the other questions, instead, he just considered the words.

After a silence which lasted for an age, he responded.

“Do you recognise the passage of time?”

Well that made no sense.

Death, again despite the lack of a mobile face, frowned.

Death too continued.

“Do you comprehend the grip that time has on all things? I ask because the time we’ve spent here discussing this point has been slightly more than it would have appeared had we been just linear beings.”

Death snorted but looked around her and only now noticed that the ‘Laputa’ was gone from behind Death too. Looking around quickly she could make out a very different star field surrounding her and there was no sign at all of any proof that the ship had ever been near her. Death too noticed the apparent confusion.

“We are beings that are controlled by the nature of the passing of time, are we not? Indeed, it could be argued that we are the very servants of time, tolling the bell that signals the end for all life, but without that life, as you can see,” he didn’t move but his voice just drew her eye-line around the darkness, “we are cut loose of the effects of the universe, with no way to anchor ourselves. Ultimately, the reaping becomes a mercy to the creature who would be lost to the whims of time itself.”

Death examined the stars around her and panic enveloped her. She could see that there had been millions of years pass by as the two of them had spoken. Stars had been born and others had died, all within the scope of a conversation. Was he telling the truth? She had reaped the final life but would that mean that she too, needed to die?

Death too continued.

“Death is a response to the arrival of life and as such is a creation that comes from the universe itself. With no life to control, there is no need for Death. Should Life appear, so too will Death. The universe will create the balance as it always has and should Life appear, our position will be fulfilled but without life, there needs to be a ‘without Death’.”

Death released her grip on the wooden shaft of her scythe and, rather than falling to the same floor she and Death too were standing on, it instead drifted away from them and into the darkness of the void.

Death too walked closer to Death until they were skeletal face to skeletal face, and took her in an embrace which gave a feeling of utter calm and warmth.

“My lady. I have existed only since you took the final life in the universe. Before that moment, you were all that there was but the universe has created that need for balance. The universe needs there to be equilibrium in all things. In a universe with no life but only Death, life will never appear. Life could never overcome the force that is Death so I am the need of the universe to restore that balance.

Death hugged in closer and there was an oddly comforting warmth coming from Death too. The embrace that they were both enfolded within wasn’t one of darkness and fear. It was of a welcoming release that made it clear that there was nothing left to do.

“My lady,” Death too spoke in hushed whispers, just above her head. “I am here to maintain the balance but that means that I have to reap both of us. I came to be for that singular purpose, nothing more. I need to bring a balance to what the universe is.”

He lifted her face to his and, in those unmoving and cold features, conveyed more love and understanding than Death had ever seen in all of time.

“I just wish I could have seen beyond just this one life of yours. You must have seen so very much more. Until the next time my lady.”

When his scythe swung, there was no hint of missing. Instead the life of those two creatures vanished and there was no trace of them left for anyone to find. Death had left the universe.

And on some far off planet, amino acids lined up in just the correct way to welcome life again.

And far off in the emptiness of the void, a newly formed skeletal hand reached out for the shaft of a falling scythe.

IF

Powerful little word, if.

You don’t have to add much to it to find yourself staring at the sheer rock face of possibilities. You see, with a little effort, that lonely little word can become, ‘What if?’ but also, ‘If only’ and without even having to really do anything, deep thought awaits.

In both of these examples, the little word ‘if’ teases us with the thoughts of that which didn’t come to pass. How often do we hear people saying ‘If only’ they’d done, or indeed not done, something which had brought them to a particular unhappy position. They lament having turned left rather than right, they shouldn’t have gone to bed angry or not had that last drink.

These and so many other examples all appear when we regret. We look at the world that we’re in and can identify that a single event was the one that made this specific timeline switch tracks. We regret and, thanks to the horrifying perfection of hindsight, can see exactly where we went wrong and long for the chance to just take that one thing back.

I’ve had an element of this in mind for some bits and pieces I’ve been working on but I’m able to cast a new view as my own life experiences grow.

The other example I gave of the power of ‘if’ was ‘What if?’ and it’s very similar in terms of the view of what could have been but this time, rather than just focusing on the event, now we’re trying to extrapolate from an event, what would have happened following the right rather than left turn. The easiest and possibly largest ‘What if’ is ‘What if the Nazi’s had won WWII?’ Stories have been told starting from this very ‘What if?’ and minds can wander in any and all directions playing with the ideas of the ‘What if’.

Now it’s the ‘What if’ that grabbed me recently.

I’ve been working on some short story ideas with a view to eventually putting together another collection of stories but I realised that the ‘What if’ would be the perfect place to start from. What if humans had evolved from lizards rather than mammals? What if the meteor impact that made the dinosaurs extinct carried a form of alien life which became humans? What if we are alone in the universe?

Now I appreciate that these ideas listed here float around a similar point but the possibilities are almost endless. I’m plonking away on a collection of ideas but I’m also reaching out to the world for other ideas.

Is there a ‘What if’ you’d like to see examined in a short story? Please comment if you have something you’d like to have me work with.

It could be amazing.

If Only!

I WONDER. DO YOU?

It’s fair to say that all of us who enjoy reading or watching genre fiction have a reasonably stretchy imagination. We can read stories of far off lands, mythical creatures and outer space and find ourselves fully immersed in the experience. We all know that the specific details of the far off planets are nothing more than the creation of someone’s imagination but we can all let our mind soar as we try to keep pace with the words on the page.

So why is it so many people can’t?

I’ve asked a great many people about their reading choices and all kinds of answers came back detailing an almost inexhaustible supply of books which drew people in, but a very common response was that genre fiction didn’t appeal to them because they just couldn’t suspend disbelief. They may have enjoyed the potential ‘whodunnit’ aspect of a book or the descriptions of a relationship but the surrounding details of the sword and sorcery stuff just crush the connection.

So why are certain genres appealing to some and not others? Why is it that you enjoy the books you do and not others? Just how possible is it to draw people in despite a genre bias?

I ask because I’ve always wondered how to bridge gaps with people.

I look at the way my niece acts around all of the very run of the mill objects and activities and marvel at the sheer exuberance she displays as she goes about her explorations. Looking through the eyes of a cantankerous forty year old, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when everything which is commonplace was once new and exciting. My niece loves animals and the sheer delight on her face when she sees the family cat is amazing. Whether or not she thinks all animals can actually talk because they all do in her cartoons may have something to do with it but I guess we’ll never know.

Kids always seem to look at everything with an amazing wonder at the possibilities that could be before them. Games of make believe and all manner of pretending and role playing are the par for the course for kids and at no point does anyone involved think there’s anything wrong with the whole situation. All kids get stuck in and are able to envision all kinds of landscapes or activities and they see all types of possibilities around every corner.

So when do they stop?

For vast swathes of the population, there will come a time where they no longer view the world with the same wonder they once did and instead of seeing boundless possibilities reality becomes rigid and set. No longer can adventures be summoned from thin air and as such, the reading material for adults is a very different landscape. Very often there are whole genres which seem to be passed over as being only for kids but don’t we all still have that flickering flame of wonder lit inside us which can just step us out of the relative drudgery of the day to day and send us off to wherever we could imagine. When was it that so many of us put away the mind set of letting go of the ‘real’ and running around with our imagination just soaring? Why should seeing the world as filled with wondrous possibilities be so easily dismissed?

The world is an amazing place but surely that doesn’t mean we can’t add to the picture inside our own heads?

NEAR OR FAR?

I watched Chappie over the weekend.

If you haven’t seen it yet I’d recommend it. I found it to be a compelling story about what goes into being human and how artificial intelligence would be treated. There were classic images which looked to be an almost direct copy from Robocop and the robot itself carried a very odd similarity to the droid army in The Phantom Menace but all in all I enjoyed it a great deal.

The film deals with issues of societal sub-cultures and battles for power but it does it in the very near future.

As with Neil Blomkamp’s earlier film, District 9, the human race is placed in a position of relative power over another species. Aliens or sentient robots are the ones that are marginalised and distrusted and the stories happily hold up a mirror to what the behaviour of the bully in a society looks like, but, it wasn’t the overt steps that made the story more powerful.

The narrative of the under class of people/aliens/robots has been explored in many stories in the past with Star Trek being a great example of a ‘property’ looking at how these things could play out but action is very often set in the far off future. Almost as a way to take a look at the details of how a race of people can be marginalised but without the need to look too close to home. What stories like Chappie do is take a single step rather than a mighty leap into the future. Rather than these things happening in a completely alien locale all of the horrible things are taking place in all of the environments we’re far too familiar with.

It’s by putting the horror of these stories in a world that’s only just beyond the reach of now, in a world that looks, feels and smells like the world outside our window, that so often makes the discomfort even more unsettling. We know the story is fiction but there’s so much that we can recognise that maybe, just maybe, there could be more to it.

The near future allows the far off stories to be told in a much more recognisable setting. There’s no chance to write off the actions as just being about aliens when everything is going on in the very world we can see out of the window.

All of the stories find their way much closer to you and if you stand still long enough, I’m sure that you’ll feel them breathing down your neck.

IT’S ALL A CONSPIRACY

I watch a TV show called Ancient Aliens quite a bit and I drag out loads of information to use in stories. Facts and speculation gets my mind ticking and things as simple as a location can find their way into what I’m writing.

Now I’m not saying everything that goes on around us is all about aliens (although don’t tell Giorgio) but having had someone else think that such things aren’t beyond the realms of possibility does help when I put the narrative together. The thing that nudged me this week was the question of why we as a species seem to be so keen to take any given data and run off in the most bizarre direction possible? How is it that rational thought and investigation can be almost outdone simply on the assumption that strings we can’t see are being pulled in ways we can’t know to achieve goals we can’t possibly comprehend.

Why the conspiracy?

You type ‘conspiracy theories’ into any search engine and you’ll be bombarded by all manner of ideas covering anything you could possibly conceive. The faked moon landings. Elvis is actually alive and well. JFK. Creationism. There are people lined up to give their opinion on any and all of these and so many others as to make even the hardest of hard nosed sceptics take pause. What if, buried amongst all of the outlandish claims and ideas concerning everything and anything, someone is actually telling the truth or has worked out what’s really going on? We have to be sure that we don’t just believe everything we hear, instead questioning and researching but surely there comes a point when we can accept details of what we’re being told?

Is it just that we have a curious streak running through us? Are the conspiracy theories being driven by an inherent distrust of systems of power? Do we think we’re being lied to?

I have no doubt that governments around the world will have very dark secrets of all kinds that they keep from the population as a whole for the health of the public but that doesn’t mean that every single fragment of information which comes from ‘the system’ is automatically to be thought of as a lie.

Every time we hear anything we have to apply critical thinking and assess it on its merits. I meet someone and they say they work in banking I’m likely to believe them but if they say they’re a multi-billionaire playboy who fights crime at night then I’m likely to need some proof.

Watching Ancient Aliens I find it remarkable when the various talking heads on the show run through their logic and everything is going fine until the final step when whatever point they reach on the road of logic, the last one is always ‘Aliens’. No matter where the evidence is taking them, ‘Aliens’. In every step along the way there is a reasoned application of logic until ‘Aliens’.

Maybe the conspiracy theories are just so many people wanting the stories to be true and are doing everything they can to squeeze the merest hint of possibility out of the barest scrap of plausibility. Don’t we all want there to be a little magic and wonder left in the world?

Even if we have to blame Elvis or Aliens to do it?