The Journal, Thursday, 12/8

Hey Folks,

Rolled out at 4 this morning. The usual early routine, then to the story from yesterday. It’s a weird little thing, fun to write, but I’m already glad this one will be finished today so I can get on with writing something else.

Today a true American hero passed from our lives. John Glenn went off-planet for the final time at 95 years of age. I still have some old 3-cent Mercury postage stamps somewhere. God speed, Colonel Glenn.

Topic: Including You in a Process

One of the ways I get more in-depth ideas is brainstorming. Often I brainstorm alone, but even then the seed of the brainstorming session is planted by someone else.

Awhile back (mid-November), a friend in the Republic of Texas tossed me an idea he said he didn’t feel ready yet to tackle himself. He knows my affinity for SF, and he was admittedly spurred a bit by a new television series regarding a Mars colony.

In an email, he talked a bit about “the potential conflict between the long-term planning and execution of constructing of a culture, a civil government etc.” Necessarily, this would have to do with “matriarchal vs patriarchal leadership, child rearing vs work, division of labor” and so on.

Mid-November. This morning, having finished a novella yesterday and a short story today, I was casting about for ideas and happened across his email again. I also replied (again) and it went so well I thought I’d share it with you in a topic.

Here’s what I wrote, dressed up just a bit.

I’ve always been thrilled with the selection process for colonists. (I wrote a poem on the topic, “Some Future Home,” several years ago.) Obviously, even before we talk about children and the rearing of the same, each colonist would have to be able to contribute something of real value to the community. Okay, so it would have to be a group of scientists from the hard sciences.

Also they wouldn’t want liars and all the conflict that would bring, ergo there could be either no sticklers for religion or all of the same religion. And zero professional politicians. Zero. Just sayin’.

To take into account The Human Factor, all opinions would be welcome (perhaps even required — yes, required I think) and counted. But they would also be weighted ona sliding scale.

For example, an opinion on a question of physics would ‘weigh more’ if it came from an engineer than from a botanist. An opinion from a combat vet on defensive (or offensive) strategy would weigh more than the opinion of a non-combat military veteran (so, a theorist), and his opinion would weigh more than that of a civilian with no military experience beyond Boy or Girl Scouts.

I would recommend the colonists be dark-skinned individuals (though not necessarily Negroid) for the inherent ability of more darkly pigmented skin to withstand the ill effects of certain cosmic rays.

The colonists would have to be “mature,” by which I mean they would have as few immaturities as possible, and NONE on the surface. (I have attained adulthood only within the past couple of years, and I’m 64. Much as I’d love to go, under my own rules, I probably wouldn’t be allowed.)

Age also would be a factor. Perhaps we ship a load of babies — infants — in stasis with 24/7 lessons playing in their minds for the duration of the trip. They arrive at 23 to 26 years old, ready to go. (They couldn’t satisfy the maturity test, but their parents, grandparents, etc. could. And who knows what DNA testing could tell us before lift-off?)

Regardless of who went, all (or most) would have to be Alpha personalities, albeit with a strong leadership ethic. By that I mean they are more likely to care more for the others than for themselves or whether the others “obey” them.

The conflicts would arise when something that was not planned-for seeped through.

Perhaps some latent personality flaw is brought to the surface by the stress of the new environment or the living conditions or some other factor.

Or perhaps something is introduced from the outside, an environmental “bug” even the best scientists back on Earth didn’t foresee. Maybe under One rock on the new planet is One bug that’s been waiting 10,000 years to awaken. Maybe a wayward foot moved the rock when the sun was at just the right declination, etc.

Maybe it can (and does) penetrate the impenetrable EnviroSuit and has a certain effect on its victim. Maybe it’s a good effect. Maybe not. Maybe it turns him/her into a native “Martian” or other denizen wherever they are.

Or maybe we spring forward and the colonists land only hours or days before a group of Transformers land and our colonists find themselves caught up in a crossfire between opposing forces. Or maybe they land only hours or days Other “natural” colonists land from elsewhere in the galaxy, and there’s a turf war.

And maybe our guys win (not all other galactic species are more advanced than we in Every way) but they have to live with horrible consequences.

Or maybe their guys win and we zoom back to Houston where the world suddenly can’t raise the human colonists anymore and have no idea what happened. Fade to black.

Or maybe it’s a western set in space. Maybe a Bad Guy comes to town, his raiding party at his back, and the first thing he does is shoot Hubble so Earth can’t see the bad guys massing.

Or maybe he TRIES to shoot Hubble and for the first time the techies on Earth are forced to reveal to us lowly humans that Hubble has a defensive capability, which of course ticks off Russia, China, et al. because any defensive capability can readily be turned to offensive use.

Now, I’m generally kind of a stew writer. When I have a novel idea, I generally have to let it stew for awhile, let it sit. Let my subconscious play with it a bit.

Later, if I glance at it again and it strikes me, I write an opening. If that takes off, I’m off and running. If it doesn’t, well, back into the file it goes.

So if any of these ideas strikes you or stirs within you another idea, run with it.

One thing — write it from your own point of view. This isn’t from the POV workshop I just finished. But think about it. You don’t have to know all the innerworkings of a space ship in order to write a story set on a space ship (for example).

Do you know everything about the internal combustion engine and drive train in your car or pickup? Probably not. Yet you drive it to the grocery or to golf outings or wherever regularly.

You can do the same thing with any environment. If you’re an engineer, tell the story as an engineer. If you’re a police officer, tell the story from a security standpoint. If you’re a barber, well, they’d need a barber on a long flight, right?

Now think about this: Every idea in this topic could just as easily be jerked out of space and placed in an environment on Earth. Enjoy.

Of Interest

Dean’s back on track with his topics on artistic freedom with Belief and Artistic Choice ( I’ll be interested in seeing (tomorrow) what sorts of comments he gets on this one. Below that, his 12/7/16 Daily is interesting too.

Today’s Writing

At 6 a.m. I moved back to the story to find out what’s gonna happen. Breakfast, coffee, etc. more writing, and by 8 a.m. the story was finished. Yay!

The day got away from me. I wrote the topic above and not much else, and my neighbor’s helping me fit a plexiglass window into the back end of my 4-Runner.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1622
Nonfiction Words: 1330 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2952

Writing of “The Dawning of Dexter Murfee Nettleson” (short story)

Day 1…… 1707 words. Total words to date…… 1707
Day 2…… 1622 words. Total words to date…… 3329 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 13837
Total fiction words for the year………… 693531
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5770
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 263670

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 957201