I’ve written before about how, despite my interest in dystopian subjects and new ways to destroy the world, I am not anything remotely like a “prepper” because I don’t want to live my life motivated by fear.
Tag Archives: world
Community: Hope Against a Crisis
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Small-town Girl, Livin’ in a Lonely World
First, go ahead and get the song good and stuck in your head. You know you want to.
Now that that’s taken care of, keep clickin’ and read this great list of the appeal of small towns as settings for a story. Basically, in summary, small towns:
- Harbor undercurrents of deep emotion
- Have lots of secrets (because anything that’s not a secret is common knowledge)
- Are really interconnected
- Are friendly but also distant toward new folks
- Are an easy snapshot every reader has built-in
- Have a limited number of suspects but lots of motives*
*I suspect the last part is why “Murder, She Wrote” worked so well!
I think this is a great post, but these things extend not just to a small town, but to any small community. I grew up in a big suburb, but it might as well have been a town of 200 because everyone at my church knew everything that was going on (or that they assumed was going on), and you couldn’t get away with anything. High school is often the same way; you’ve got a small population that is heavily involved in itself. (I’m finally watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and you can always tell when someone is going to die because they’re a new person to the cast for that episode.)
I did live in a small town, or two, and I think this list did leave a few things out. Small towns often:
- Aren’t up-to-date on current trends (in other words, are “a little bubble of the past”)
- Don’t have as many resources
- Are small for a reason
- The pace is slower, but the emotional stakes are higher
My observations have a lot less to do with people than Elizabeth’s, but can really inform the world and the options available. Unless it’s a really big crisis, the CIA aren’t likely to come to a small town in Wisconsin; the people there are just gonna have to handle their problems themselves, and they probably like it that way.
What is unique about your setting? What made you choose that place for your story?
Filed under writing
Disconnecting from Constant Connectivity
It’s something of a joke, the amount of time I am on the internet. At my day job, much of my legitimate work requires me to be connected to the ethernet–and a great deal of my screwing-around time does, too. Then I come home, and…play on the internet some more. Or maybe I watch Netflix, through my internet connection. Or check the weather on my smart phone.
I’ve become one of those people.
In fact, three years ago, before this day job, before the smart phone, before Netflix, I had already identified myself as having an affinity for the online. It was part of what inspired me to write “Alt.World.” I took the idea to some extremes in that book, and the three weeks I was completely cut off from the internet after a hurricane informed the story quite a bit. (What do you do when you can’t get the service to which you are addicted? Where literally your whole world exists? What do you do with yourself after that?)
That’s why I found this article, “I’m Still Here: Back Online After a Year Without the Internet,” so interesting.
The author, a guy about my age and with a similar background, decided he was too addicted to the internet, and decided to challenge himself by…not being addicted to the internet anymore. By quitting cold-turkey.
He was hoping for enlightenment, but didn’t find any. Or rather, he found some: he found out a lot of his problems didn’t exist because he was distracted by the internet–the way, I think, he was secretly hoping.
Things would certainly be harder without the internet. So much happens there, that one person opting out means they are opting out of a whole lot more than an information source. They’re opting out of casual friendships. Of contact with people from far away. Of easy-to-access navigation and dinner ideas and dating services.
I take internet sabbaticals. When I go on vacation, I don’t plan on taking my computer with me. I write things down in a paper-and-pen notebook, so I can remember the experience later. I don’t “check in” anywhere with any apps. I try to soak in the experience.
And I think those kinds of breaks are useful, and good. But I also spend at least an hour online, catching up, as soon as I get back in town.
Do you need the internet? Could you go without? What do you think would happen if, for some reason, society suddenly lost the internet?
Filed under writing
The Doctor and Zaphod Beeblebrox
Apparently aliens are all about picking up chicks from Earth. Our planet must be like a Greyhound bus station for these weirdos: they just drop in, pick out a lady they fancy, and they’ve got a Companion. Hurray!
It makes for great stories, it really does, but–hell to the no.
Why I Won’t Be Traveling Around Space/Time With an Alien I Just Met
With both the Doctor and Zaphod, you have a sort of good guy who just walks up to a woman he doesn’t really know and is all like “hey, wanna see my spaceship?” Honestly, that’s the best/worst pickup line I’ve ever heard. And yet it seems to work pretty well. But that’s a terrible idea. I mean, really. It’s just a bad idea to board any UFO with someone you don’t know. Because then you end up with someone who has two heads and a split personality. We have anti-psychotic drugs for crap like that. (Despite his dapper ties and whatever, the Doctor isn’t much better; at any point he could have to regenerate and become someone with a completely different personality? Yeahhhh….I’ll pass).
- No Way Home
Alright, so maybe you are a sucker for cheesy pick-up lines and you go with him. Well, then what, honey? When I first started dating, my mom taught me to always have what she called “Mad Money.” Basically, it’s enough money to a) use a payphone to call for a ride (back before folks had cell phones) or b) get a taxi home in case you get stranded somewhere. How are you gonna follow that advice when you’re traveling through space and/or time? Congratulations, you just got taken for a ride by a maniac and you’re now stuck somewhere with no way back. If you’re lucky, you could probably flag one of the Earth-crushing bulldozers for a ride, but that seems like a pretty bad situation all around.
- Itty Bitty Living Space
It’s a little hard to tell on the Tardis (with that whole bigger-on-the-inside thing), but both it and the Heart of Gold are a bit tiny. Not only are you going to be stuck with this creep because you didn’t plan far enough ahead to have your Mad Money at the ready, but you’re stuck in a pretty small place. Anybody who has been on a road trip for more than 5 hours can tell you things get cramped when you’re stuck in close quarters for a period of time. And most of the time with these guys, it’ll be just the two of you (and maybe a robot or two). It’s gonna get testy.
- They’re Trying to Kill You
Look, no matter how “neat” these guys seem at first, you should probably eventually realize they don’t have “safety” on the top of their list. Everywhere you go, you’re nearly eaten, blasted to death, turned into a poppet by the improbability drive, or otherwise harmed by creatures bent solely on your destruction. How many near-death situations does it take before it stops being fun? Honey, if you’re sticking around, you’re both an adrenaline junky and a masochist.
- More Than One Way to Explore Exotic Locals
The supposed appeal of these guys is the promise of seeing the galaxy and all its wonders, but if you fall for that, I’m just sorry for you. There’s so much incredible stuff to see here, on earth! Our planet is absolutely amazing, and you can get around it all by yourself. Or, if that’s too expensive or scary or whatever, turn on the TV or, better yet, grab a book. The limits are really in your imagination.
I’ll read about your adventures when you get back. (But you probably won’t make it back anyway.)
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In Light of Tragedy, Do a Good Turn
I’ve been thinking a lot about the tragedy in Newtown. It’s horrible, and it leaves me feeling horrible, scared, and helpless. I can’t control the frightening, terrible things in this world, but I can control what I do and how I act. I’ve resolved to be on the lookout for the things I can do to spread love, kindness, and generosity. Not just today, or this week, or until we reach an arbitrary number of good things, but in my life, all the time.
It’s easy, sometimes, to contribute to a “showy” charity or volunteer event, like a Fun Run benefiting disease research. We make it particularly easy at Christmastime, when Angel trees show up even in the malls, and Santas ring bells outside of the grocery store, and we ostentatiously pile gifts up for people in need. And the financial donations pour in to the Red Cross after huge disasters of all kinds. And those are all good things, but I think we can always make more room for good deeds in our lives. Giving money, or items, or time are all important, but we—or at least I—can do those things from a comfortable distance.
It’s too easy to get secluded and ignore others when we can help, or make someone’s day in a small way. It doesn’t have to be anything big—in fact, I think it’s probably better that we offer up many small things than only one big thing—but I think, in light of these kinds of tragedies, the best we can do is to reach out and connect with other human beings in our world. Not via indirect donations (but those are good, too, and worth continuing!), but also through personal, human, interactions.
I’m going to watch for the Good Turns I can do. I hope maybe you’ll keep an eye out for the Good Turn you can do, too.
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