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God Won’t Let The Climate Change: 13 Word Story

 

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So, I haven’t done one of these in a while. In the last months of the presidential campaign and the aftermath, well, the distraction of watching this all unfold was distracting. I had trouble writing anything but deep dystopia. I managed to create some wordage, but it was a bit of a slow stretch  for three or four months.

But here I am, production ramping up again. Maybe next time something distracting befalls the world, I’ll be a little better at keeping the creative juices flowing. This little episode did a pretty good job reminding me that I’m still learning the ropes and will be until I die — which is what all the more successful people who do stuff do, I hear.

But anyhow.

This one, of course, is inspired by the ideology-driven denial of either the human role in climate change, the actual fact the climate is changing, or both.

And of course the title is dedicated to the people around the world who take their faith as incompatible with climate change, or a round Earth, or a heliocentric solar system, or whatever other observed data they choose to disregard, thinking it opposed to their beliefs.

Of course, there are plenty of people who have some sort of faith — one of the established ones, Deism, Pandeism, animism, whatever else — who have no trouble at all accepting that what we observe about the universe is actually what we observe about the universe. And of course there are the various flavors of atheist (myself included) who just go with the data as best as we can interpret it, but can also appreciate how awesome, beautiful, and sometimes scary things like flowers, babies, galaxies, changing climates, and all kinds of other stuff are.

Paying attention to politics, I have heard (read) some of our lawmakers say things like the title of this story. Or that the oil or coal we’re mining cannot run out because a deity will restore it at our need.

Well, even if you do believe that Earth is a creation and a deity appointed humans the stewards of it, that seems pretty silly to me. Not to mention a bad way to raise a worldful of humans.

Would any of us raise a kid like that? “Hey, kiddo — this is your room. It’s yours. Go ahead and rip up the floorboards, pee in the corners, punch holes in the walls. I’ll pop by and fix everything up perfect for you again, leaving you to learn nothing but how to be a spoiled rotten brat with total contempt for the good things you have.”

That seems like an awful idea. So not only do I, as an atheist, not believe that a deity will come and save us from the consequences of our actions, I, as a father, think that would be a very poorly thought out path for a deity of any intelligence whatsoever.

So maybe more of us humans, regardless of belief system, should be worrying a bit more than we do about this planet of ours? Just a thought…

 

[This appeared on my Patreon page on the 22nd, a week before it appeared here. So, you know, becoming a patron is a great way to see a lot of posts early, plus you can receive free ebook copies and even signed paperbacks of stories and collections I publish!]

At The Risk Of Pissing You Off On The Anniversary Of The Oklahoma City Bombing…

…I thought I’d share a series of my tweets on the subject with you all. I started with a sad reply to the first tweet below…

After I tweeted “nobody wants to touch this tweet,” a couple of people were moved to retweet it — whether they simply noticed it a little later than it was tweeted or they were responding to my ‘nobody wants’ statement, I don’t know.

But I do know this: a lot of folks are very quick to condemn group X that they are not personally part of or acquainted with when something bad hits the news. The worse the news, the louder the outcry.

But those same folks don’t condemn the group when the person who is guilty is part of their own group or a group they are well acquainted with on a positive personal level. Then, they’re all about “well the ones who did this awful things weren’t REALLY part of group X” or “you have to blame the individual.”

Since this series of tweets touches upon the 9/11 terrorist attack, I’ll go with Islam for a moment. Yes, the perpetrators identified as Muslim. Yes, there’s a nasty vein of violent extremism that supports or perpetrates awful things — think 9/11 attackers or ISIS or Boko Haram.

That doesn’t have a hell of a lot to do with the people FLEEING this kind of violence who are also Muslim, no more than an Italian fleeing Mussolini in the 1930s had to do with Fascist violence.

There are people who identify as Christian in the United States who talk about doing the kind of thing that ISIS or Boko Haram is doing. They talk about assassinating politicians they don’t agree with and blowing things up and bringing about the rule of their particular view of their denomination of their branch of the religion they identify as. I’m using that “identify with/as” language very deliberately, by the way. “They’re not real [religion]” is often said, and often with reason. Most mainstream religious believers or agnostic or cultural-but-not-believing individuals don’t think blowing up buildings or murdering or even waging war is a great idea. They’d rather do without this whole “war” thing.

And that’s my point. It’s not to say that Christians want to blow up federal buildings or Muslims want to raze villages in Nigeria. Quite the opposite. And it’s not to say there’s no danger in the actions or words of extremists who claim that there needs to be violence in the name of imposing their vision of religion or ideology Z. There is. There’s a lot of danger. And these people who would do violence often move within the body of the larger society seeking the opportunity to inspire or perpetrate violence. That’s undeniable.

Let’s be honest: it’s scary. The odds say we’re more likely to be struck down by lightning than extremists in the vast majority of locales. But it’s still scary — the press and their breathless reporting (OMG DID YOU SEE THAT WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE, the crawl on CNN and the headline in the paper say daily, because it gets attention and eyeballs and clicks and advertiser attention) isn’t helping a bit in that regard.

But what we need to do is NOT cast an assumptive eye on all people who share some superficial common identification with murderers. What we need to do is what we’re already doing — and sadly often overdoing in the name of that assumptive eye. We need to watch for the murderous. And we need to do it, whenever we can possibly manage it and even when it’s “too hard,” without that assumptive eye on the innocent. That assumptive eye, when it turns to action that harasses and imposes judgment, is the easiest thing extremists use as evidence that the world hates ALL of whatever-dom and they must lash out to clear a place for their religion or ideology or whatever to live.

I welcome your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Sneaking Politics Into Your Science Fiction, Hugo Gernsback Edition

Hugo Ralph

Blah, blah, puppies and science fiction and Hugos and sociopolitical commentary in stories and gee whiz science fiction was ‘pure’ in the olden days and…

Ugh.

If you follow the genre and/or some of the popular artists of the science fiction field, you’ve seen a bellyfull of blog posts and tweets and Facebooking and so forth on the current Sad and/or Rabid Puppies bloc-voting thing in the recent Hugo nominations. A fair bit of the commentary from the Puppy side of things revolves around the idea that political comments on society, specifically those seen as coming from the political left, are being sneakily injected into your good ol’ science fiction and making it not science fictiony—a brand new phenomenon, unique to the modern day, they say. (You might observe at this point that someone is always complaining about how bad ‘the modern day’ is and how much better the ‘good old days’ were—you can find plenty of examples no matter what century’s literature you care to examine.)

A variety of authors have weighed in on the matter, making their cases for whether or not ‘the good ol’ days’ were all about ‘pure’ science fiction without that darn political and social commentary.

Since they’re all talking about the Hugos, I thought I’d check out the fiction from the horse’s mouth—Hugo Gernsback, for whom the award is named. His Ralph 124C 41+ is one of the earliest examples of the American-written science fiction novel, if a clunky one by modern standards. It’s definitely focused on the science speculation, with plot and characters being mainly a diaphanous vehicle serving to move the reader from one technological speculation to the next.

So, is it good ol’ pure science fiction without any of that darn social and political ‘corruption’ that so worries the Puppies?

Here’s a nice representative passage from Ralph, Gernsback himself writing:

Ralph, sitting on the roof of his tower, was oblivious to all about him. He was unable to dismiss from his mind the lovely face of the girl whose life he had just been the means of saving. The soft tones of her voice were in his ears. Heretofore engrossed in his work, his scientific mind had been oblivious to women. They had played no part in his life. Science had been his mistress, and a laboratory his home. And now, in one short half hour, for him the whole world had become a new place. Two dark eyes, a bewitching pair of lips, a voice that had stirred the very core of his being— Ralph shook himself. It was not for him to think of these things, he told himself. He was but a tool, a tool to advance science, to benefit humanity. He belonged, not to himself, but to the Government—the Government, who fed and clothed him, and whose doctors guarded his health with every precaution. He had to pay the penalty of his +. To be sure, he had everything. He had but to ask and his wish was law—if it did not interfere with his work. There were times he grew restive under the restraint, he longed to smoke the tobacco forbidden him by watchful doctors, and to indulge in those little vices which vary the monotony of existence for the ordinary individual. There were times when he most ardently wished that he were an ordinary individual. He was not allowed to make dangerous tests person-ally, thereby endangering a life invaluable to the Government. That institution would supply him with some criminal under sentence of death who would be compelled to undergo the test for him. If the criminal were killed during the experiment, nothing was lost; if he did not perish, he would be imprisoned for life. Being a true scientist, Ralph wanted to make his own dangerous experiments. Not to do this took away the very spice of life for him, and on occasion he rebelled. He would call up the Planet Governor, the ruler of 15 billion human beings, and demand that he be relieved of his work. “I can’t stand it,” he would protest. “This constraint which I am forced to endure maddens me, I feel that I am being hampered.” The Governor, a wise man, and a kindly one, would often call upon him in person, and for a long time they would discuss the question, Ralph protesting, the Governor reasoning with him. “I am nothing but a prisoner,” Ralph stormed once. “You are a great inventor,” smiled the Governor, “and a tremendous factor in the world’s advancement. You are invaluable to humanity, and—you are irreplaceable. You belong to the world—not to yourself.” Many times in the past few years he recalled, had the two been over the same ground, and many times had the diplomatic Governor convinced the scientist that in sacrifice of self and devotion to the world’s future lay his great reward.

Let’s check out what the namesake of the award is saying here. Surely there are no sneaky, dirty political statements in it.

Wait… Ralph is a “tool to advance science, to benefit humanity”? He belongs to the government? That sounds a bit political! But I’m sure it’s an illusion.

Tobacco is forbidden to Ralph because it’s… a threat to his health? This was published in 1925… lawyers and doctors representing the tobacco industry would still be arguing the harmlessness of smoking tobacco 40 years later. Sounds like a controversial anti-business pronouncement to me. Something a dirty social justice warrior might sneak into the pure science fiction.

The government gives Ralph death row inmates to perform dangerous experiments on!? Could this be a socially and politically charged comment on the nature of the duty of a criminal to repay society for wrongs committed? It’s certainly not a comment from the political left, but it is even more certainly a political and social statement.

Wait again, “Planet Governor”? As in, a monolithic planetary government over all the people on Earth? No more nations in Hugo’s future?

It doesn’t get more political than that. Looks like the guy the Hugo Awards are named for was one of those sneaks all the Puppies are so worried about. He was sneaking politics into US science fiction right from the start of this country’s wing of the genre.

If you can’t get it from Hugo Freakin’ Gernsback himself, where is this non-political, non-social-commentary science fiction the Puppies keep remembering?

The answer is simple: it does not exist, and it never has existed. The very notion of it is no more than a piece of socially and politically charged fiction.