Jurasic Park 3D – April 5
Oblivion – April 12
“The Most Powerful Man in the World and other stories” is a collection of five, short, scifi stories by Stephen L. Thompson to provide a sample of his writing.
A being from the distant future with almost unlimited powers comes back to help Ian Steele make the world a better place in “The Most Powerful Man in the World.” The bookstore customer has an entirely different reason for wanting books in “Black Market Books.” “Motherhood” tells the story of Thomas Gillespie, the surrogate mother for an AI. “Storyteller” is about an author thinking his book into existence. And “Deadworld” is about the alien world humans are reborn on – in alien bodies – after they die.
Excerpt from “The Most Powerful Man in the World”
“What happened?” Ian asked from the floor.
Ian sat up and looked around the empty room. It was maybe fifteen feet on a side and painted a dull grey. “Where am I?”
“A dimensional intrusion located within your living room wall.”
Pulling him to his feet, she explained, “Basically, it’s a space that can be as large,” here Karen threw her arms out and the walls zoomed away beyond sight, “or as small as I want.” She then drew her arms in and the two stood in a space the size of a phone booth. The room returned to its original size and Karen stretched. “But I think this is a good size.”
Ian spun around, trying to keep an eye on each of the walls as if they might sneak up and squish him. “What the hell is this?”
Karen put her arm around him. “Arthur C. Clarke once said that ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’” Shrugging, Karen stated, “This is magic.”
This is something I’ve seen several times in short stories or novels over the years. I recently saw this in a short story by a famous author, which prompted this rant.
Basically, what happens is a group of people set out on an expedition, either to another planet or back in time. It takes months or years of work to outfit the ship and/or fly to the other planet. Shortly after they arrive, one of the crew raises their hand and asks, “What are we doing here?” Now, I’m not talking about military expeditions where – for secrecy – they have to get to the place before they open their orders, I understand that. What I’m talking about is usually corporate missions to find some new resource or a general science expedition. Every time I see it I can’t help but wonder, Did they miss the memo? I mean, how can they spend months or years working on a project without once asking, What’s the point?
I think the reason many authors do this is because it’s the best way they can think of to disguise an info dump. Seriously, what would you rather read about, characters discussing what they are going to do with a planet looming in their viewscreen, or characters sitting around a drab conference table on Earth as some schmuck reads through the bullet points on a power point presentation? “As you can see, here are our synergetic objectives once we arrive at Brindenbaugh Alpha-7.”
I understand that on one hand there is the realistic – usually boring – way things are done in the real world, while on the other hand there is the far more entertaining way things are done in fiction. I also understand that part of enjoying fiction is getting lost in that world, momentarily forgetting that it’s fiction. So when I read about a character who spent months in a spaceship flying to some distant planet, apparently without once asking why they’ve spent months in a spaceship flying to some distant planet, the fact that these characters are not real people become abundantly clear.