There’s More Than Meets the Eye

Do you want to know what the future holds for you?

Okay not exactly…but I can give you a good idea. Let me introduce you to one of the most popular genres of literature, science fiction. Unique in its purpose because well…it actually has a purpose. Doing more than just servicing your boredom it allows us to poke holes in our long-term societal goals, analyze our shortcomings, and gives us a better understanding on the manipulation of human values.

With that being said I believe science fiction is important beyond just being another story.

The first reason has to do with providing you the ability to think critically about long-term societal goals.

Letting us think logically about the reality of a situation. Science fiction’s number one rule is that it must be possible and explained through science. This lends its hand perfectly to what makes this genre so great, that we have an explanation and possibly a peak into the succeeding society.

A great example of this is space travel. Launching ourselves into the never-ending abyss sounded ridiculous at first but as time passes these ideas have come to fruition. In partial thanks to the authors for challenging what we believe to be impossible. Now we face the task of longer and longer expeditions which have been written about for decades at this point with countless perspectives on how we will achieve the next big journey.

The genre also presents the opportunity to fully flesh out these long-term ideas, giving us a rule of thumb in terms of possible solutions and consequences. It’s like we are going into a test with cheat sheet.

Not to say that they are giving us the blueprint to success but in that same vein of thought behind space travel, we can ask what consequences could arise from being living in a flying computer for centuries? Would that lead to a crippling dependency or an astronomical jump in what we believe to be average intelligence? These are questions answered all throughout science fiction writing and I don’t know where else we can tinker with concepts in both great detail and tremendous presentation.

Secondly, it allows us to amplify our flaws of today and see how translates moving forward.

Taking a long look in the mirror to reflect on our current behaviors and the consequences that we may be leading ourselves up to. Schools have been on the quest to level the playing fields with children when it comes to rewarding exceptional results. In the efforts to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt. Slowly diminishing the hunger of being better than your peers at something. What would happen if we took this degree of equality and applied it to all of society, what would it cost to make sure everyone was accounted for?

Kurt Vonnegut has a brilliant depiction of a society that has gone too far with trying to make every last person equal titled “Harrison Bergeron”. Though our intentions may be good, he says that following this path we are on may have irreversible consequences. Explaining that in the pursuit of true parity we are only rationing equal misery amongst one another.

Makes you think about if you really deserved that participation ribbon in fourth grade, doesn’t it?

What makes it so fascinating is that these depictions of society are focusing on current issues that may serve a greater prevalence many years down the line. Stories being told decades from now either have the world slowly withering away or in the clutches of government power.

In more recent years there has been renewed spotlight for political actions which has prompted many acts and legislation to be reviewed. As the world invests more and more time online this scares the government because it’s one place where they don’t have a prominent hand in curating its use. I think we are seeing that starting with Bill C-10 in Canada where media has become such a powerhouse for influence that it frightens government heads. Now they are trying to wedge their way into having a voice in how the systems operate. This was quickly put to a halt by the public as subconsciously I feel we’ve tapping into our anxieties instilled by science fiction themes of government corruption and class uprise. Living with hindsight like its groundhog’s day.

Lastly, science fiction has been a great source for analyzing human values.

There are so many scenarios and world altering variables that feature in the stories these authors present to us. When faced with great adversity we can see where morals, ethics, and values play their part in people’s behavior. Dystopic environments paint a new society that is incomparable, smashed into fragments of what it once was and stripped of its resources.

When there is no control and chaos ensue, people tend to work together in the efforts of building the next society. Unity amongst the human race seems to only show itself when there is true threat. Either by war, disaster, or aliens being the most notable which makes sense because humans love to fight against other races. I mean World Wars, The World Cup, Olympics, you get the point.

The flip side brings us to a world that soaks in resources which pits man against itself. When there is no scarcity greed fuels the wicked to position themselves one step ahead of their peers.

Cyberpunk plays with this premise in its worlds since there is a hierarchy that holds humanity under control, and they must operate under the microscope of the powers that be. As they may not be able to acquire higher value materials, resource, or modifications. Here is where we see the presence of black-market entities promoting your ability to hoard and rotate value with one another, with both sides feeling like they got the better end of the deal.

The stories told show how human behavior can be manipulated as humans will adapt whenever necessary. So, if you ever wanted to know how to manage in these next-gen scenarios there is endless catalogs to reflect on.

Science fiction has the ability to take what you are familiar with and package it completely different ways. And the reason its familiar is because you are living the prologue. Engaging in this genre gives you great insight on where the world stands today in a way that no other can. Workshopping our concepts, reflecting on our flaws, and better understanding ourselves. Providing almost an arial view for our problems.

Truly unique in that sense so, it’s up to you on if you want to look through that window and see what your future has in store.




The Age of Apathy

Aren’t we kind of getting tired of all this global warming talk. Who cares at this point? As for the last ‘how many years’ have we been told that the sky will fall. Figuratively speaking. I think science fiction writers are aware of our disbelief and lean on our nonchalant attitudes. Writing in a way to spark any emotion towards these issues.

Catastrophe is always interesting. Mixing in the fact that imminent disaster could happen to the world we live in, now you got me. But where does the switch flip from intrigue to sappy dialog? All I wanted was to hear an intense compelling story but now you want to preach about “greener life starts with you”? If media has told us anything it’s that a good story sells.

I like a good story but sometimes the ideas are so grandiose that I forget we have the underlying sense of “this could happen”. Struggling to find the line a lot of the time because we simple don’t believe that these catastrophes are plausible, at least in our time.

Removing any feeling of urgency to act.

Society isn’t interested in some environmental doomsday that they have to wait years upon. Unless of course the trailer is good. Not even political figures leading countries are interested. They aren’t even incentivized to be. All they want is to scheme for your next vote. Begging the question why would they set in place long term plans when their time is limited? Simply, they don’t. Fuelling our lack of enthusiasm, interest, or concern.

Birthing the new age.

Blog Post Revision: You can wear the shoes, but never fill them

Cliches are a pretty general guilty pleasure. As movies prove humans strive for that perfect romantic moment. Or in contrast, watching the world burn. Wastelands and ruined cities allow us to play these out. Maybe not the lovey dovely stuff. More so vicariously living in these dangerous environments. But why would we want to watch a ripped apart version of the world we live in?

Our brain automatically puts us in these situations. To me, that is where all the appeal lies.

In these narratives the environment is alive. Breathing the dark smoggy air it produces. The setting is another character in a sense. Because there is some much interaction between the two. Normally playing some part in the conflict’s that arise as well. Writers like to play on this. Needing the protagonist to use their creativity in solving issues along the journey. Where understanding the environment plays in your favour greatly.

It’s important to find the distinction between two twins in literature. Science fiction and supernatural. Now this is pretty simple. Sci-fi deals with natural consequences (climate change, astronomical factors, etc.) or humans caused events (world wars, pandemics, etc.). Whereas the supernatural goes as told, going against the laws of nature, featuring elements like magic, ghosts, and gods.

Think about the franchises “X-Men” and “Alien”. Both dealing with monster like creatures. Where one can be explained through science, and the other leaning into ancient gods.

You can understand how they’d be in the same family tree. Just with interchangeable key detailing. A formula bound for success as the genres have aged like wine. Allowing themselves to be recycled time and time again yet we are still hypnotized by our own imagination.

Pulling ourselves, into these worlds.

You can wear the shoes, but never fill them.

Considering how much the general population likes to hate cliché’s, the census still would like to see the world burn. And that’s exactly what wastelands and ruined cities allow us to play out. To live vicariously in these dangerous environments, just so we can lean over to our friends afterwards and ask, “what are the odds you even last a week?”. Our brain automatically puts us in the environmental situations. To me this is where all the appeal lies.

In these narratives the environment is alive, breathing the dark smoggy air it produces. The setting acts as another character in a sense because there is some much interaction between the two, normally playing some part in the conflict’s that arise as well. Writers like to play on this usually needing the protagonist to use their creativity to solve issues faced along the journey, where understanding the environment plays in your favour greatly. Video games do an exceptional job of this, most notable being the series Fallout and Borderlands where you are dropped into these massive sandboxes and are asked to adapt to your new surroundings whist completing tasks.

Although we need to remember with these environments there are different ways in how we come about the finished product. What I’m talking about is finding the distinction between science fiction apocalypses and those that are supernatural. Now this is pretty simple, sci-fi examples are either caused by nature (climate change, astronomical factors, etc.) or by humans (world wars, pandemics, etc.). Whereas the supernatural goes as told, going against the laws of nature, featuring elements like magic and gods. A good example for this would be “X-Men: Apocalypse”, where the source of conflict is brought by the awakening of an enchant Egyptian mutant god wanting to end all of humanity. Think of it like regular burgers and impossible burgers, you may not be able to clock the differences based on the surrounding conditions until you sink your teeth into it. Similar audiences but serve different purposes.

As a writer creating a narrative that takes place in wastelands and ruined cities can’t be as daunting as physically living them out, as the idea relatively stays the same, almost with interchangeable detailing. There is great flexibility when using this particular setting as long as you cater to your distinction, meaning what you chose the cause to be. A formula bound for success as the theme has aged like wine, allowing itself to be recycled time and time again yet we are still hypnotized by our own imagination pulling ourselves into these worlds.

A Looming Technological Crossroads.

Around the world there are countless examples of unethical labour practices that big corporations take advantage of for western societal benefit. They pray on the poor to fuel the numerous import export businesses; this is mainly due to its convenience and cost effectiveness. Social media loves to cherry pick these stories to highlight these practices and scrutinize everything about the process, all while tweeting from an iPhone. Why do I bring this up? Because its hypocrisy, organizations like apple and google are notorious for using child labour in the gathering of resources to put together our phones in the first place. Something we’ve been able to compartmentalize over the years.

So would if we could take those people out of these harsh work environments entirely, and replace them with an emotionless, intelligent, relentless robotic workforce? This lines up with our ethical concerns since we are not putting human life at risk whilst still turning out resources at efficient rates. Seemingly a win-win for consumers and producers. So where does all the fear and anxiety fit in? Once again this comes at the expense of third world countries. Let me explain.

A lot of these grueling jobs are opportunities to generate income for people that otherwise have none. Though the physical demand outweighs the reward greatly, it is better than nothing. Which is what they would have if we cycle them out for an exclusively robot workforce. Its these people who will fear losing their job because opportunity is as scarce as food, financial aid, and clean water. It would lead to historically high poverty that I believe would extinguish entire populations of small countries. And the worst part is these people wouldn’t even know what was happening, until its already happened.

A robot revolution doesn’t seem as plausible in the Hollywood movie sense as we’ve romanticized the idea of creating man’s new best friend for some time now. Yet we never see the slow implementation in these movies that lead to the downfall of human power, where the growing anxiety is soon to blossom. Although it may be more depressing movie, from where I see it the most plausible technological take over wouldn’t be in a supreme leadership, I see a new age industrial revolution. My question is how much we will be able to compartmentalize then, only time will tell.

The Powers That Soon to Be.

I understand the appeal of utopian literature, given the chance who wouldn’t dive into the most ideal, convenient, seemingly perfect world.  But how much fun can it be reading about an unrealistic almost unattainable version of the world you currently live in? My guess is not that fun if the contrasting view has eclipsed its predecessor in recent decades. That being dystopian literature; a futuristic alternate universe featuring an oppressive societal control, usually taking the form of some sort of government power. People live in fear and soak in their own anxieties due to the oppressive over barring treatment they receive from this new utilitarian society. These governmental figures are retooling the shortcomings they had when originally establishing control, removing the opportunity from people to challenge that power. In some cases, demolishing the ideas of freedom and democracy outright.

But what I find so interesting is that these same people are fed the idea that the world they live in is actually a utopia, and this is often done through propaganda. I admire the undertone it plays each respective scenario. Despite the poverty, inequalities, or the post-apocalyptic urban settings, the people are forced to understand that “what the powers that be” say is best for them, is what’s best for them.

These stories leave you to ponder are we already headed down a dystopian path in the way technology is advertised in today’s world. As it’s broadcasted and labeled as the progress of humanity. That we need to incorporate technology everywhere we can, equating it connivence or “a better life” as we are transitioning into a world where we are so dependent on it. But can’t we apply that same propaganda idea to our own government? Every year we learn more and more about how we are being watched by them through conversations over the phone, apps, location tracking, our data, and basically anything online. The new thing is algorithms, our devices filtering us information it thinks we like based on our data. Now what’s stopping the government from feeding us their agendas through media that’s sugar coated to appeal to our own biases essentially brainwashing us? The answer is that we wouldn’t even know until they told us, and why would they do that.

When you understand how under control we are now, it’s interesting to read what these writers envision when creating an alternate reality that reflects our future. That is where the appeal lies. These dystopian stories could be viewed as the trending result of current social norms and political systems. Serving as a warning of where society is headed. And I think the remarkable technological strides we’ve made in recent decades, has allowed these worlds to feel more real than you would like.

The Power of Language Prejudice

Language prejudice sounds pretty bad on paper, how could you judge someone on how they speak? In reality it’s something everyone does, maybe not in a maliciously negative way. But in very surface level ways, as the HuffPost artical mentioned even by someones accent our brain goes on to make an assumption on who they are, and how we feel about them. Which is where the whole “make a good first impression” kinda came from. Because this is something everyone does unintentionally, we have a our own bias on what we like to hear and what we don’t. And because we are human we need to share our opinion which can impact the ways others think. For me personally I’ve had this listening to podcasts, for example when a host shares they may hate the sound of a Bostonian accent. At first I’ll think “eh its’s alright” but then they will follow with a bias impression of the accent which then makes me think “yea they’re right, that is annoying”. So yes, my own language bias has been impacted by someones else’s opinion.

Slang On and Off The Court

The sports world is full of terminology and slang that is used by its viewers and players of the game. Every sport has its own specific slang that references the sport its self, but I’m talking about basketball words that can be heard throughout world from lovers of the game. With that said words like “nasty” and “crossed” are used heavily all over the league (NBA). This is amplified when viewing on social media and networking platforms because words like those are littered in the captions of game highlights. For example “House of Highlights” a well known page on Instagram will post basketball highlights and under them may read along the lines of “_____ might have just done the nastiest play in sports!!”. Game commentators have used them when commentating but most tend to mock in a joking way due to their age, I would say all of them are over 40 but the basketball culture is so strong to where it makes it’s way to the past generation. When you hear someone using basketball specific slang you automatically have a base of relativity. Because it shows you care and have immersed yourself enough in ball culture to where you know you can talk anything to do with the league with them.

Living in Moon of the Crusted Snow

Reading Moon of the Crusted Snow was a suspenseful experience for me, and genuinely had me unable to put the book down at times. But that’s not what I found so intriguing about the novel, what played a big part in me not being able to put down the book was how the setting made me feel.

This story takes place on an isolated reserve up north, small and overall a tight knit community, as well as it being outdated on some everyday essentials people south are used to. Such as satellite signal and electric heating which Evan (the protagonist) mentioned is relatively new to them. Though they still rely on wood stoves, hunting, and other methods of living that the modern world would view as outdated. This resonated with me so well due to my family connection on my mother’s side who live in Pikangikum First Nation, a fly in reserve that is around 300km southeast of Winnipeg, a second home I visit annually. Having lived there till I was about five years old, it helped me visualize the setting to a point to where I was fully immersed. References to “The Northern” an all-purpose everyday store really drove home where it takes place for me, since the store is exclusive to communities such as the one in the story, and my own. Another point Evan had made is that they have banned alcohol use making it a “dry reserve”, but still people smuggled it in. A issue that occurs regularly in Pik to where they have screened vehicles coming in on Friday’s in an attempt to keep booze off the land. So I would say things are pretty similar.

With that said I enjoyed the story that much more since I found it so relatable, and for a far northern reserve it lived up to my expectations. 

First Impressions of Moon of the Crusted Snow

My first impressions of this book were confused, I missed the briefing on what to expect with this book because not ever would I hear a character say something like “ever sick you”. But once I realized what a theme of the book was it felt familiar, that I could picture the characters and where they lived more clearly. Hearing them say that they are just getting satellite and cell services, though I didn’t live in Pikangikum my whole life I still call it home. And that’s the kind of life it is out there, very remote and isolated so it takes time for these things to blossom, for example many homes still don’t have running water but, they just got a new school. What the protagonist does in the first two chapters is very relevant to me, because my grandpa still does the same. So much so, that his job at the school, is to show the youth how to go about these hunting practices. That is what makes this book so unique in the same sense, you don’t find book that share what “rez life” is unless it’s a biography of someone who’s “made it out”. From what’s happened so far, I can sense a horrible storm is coming. From hints in conversation and by looking at the cover. Nevertheless I am curious for what’s next.