We here at Chez Happycrow proudly number ourselves among “Heinlein’s Children,” and are pleased and flattered that Sarah Hoyt, who actually knew Ginny, was gracious enough to swing by and say hi. Ms. Hoyt is the author of the Prometheus-winning Darkship Thieves, and its recent sequel, Darkship Renegades, which we recommend highly. Needless to say, that’s not the only thing she’s up to — Ms. Hoyt keeps herself quite busy.
Opening Your Eyes Again
Pratchett (What are you going to promote Pratchett now? Shud up. We’ll get to me.) in one of the Tiffany Aching books has a classic line in which he says “open your eyes” and then “now open your eyes again.”
This is because of course, when you first look at something – physical or not – you have a tendency to not see it as it is, but as you assume it is going to be. Even on a mundane level, this can be dangerous. Get me tired and in low light and move something in my room, and you’re going to get me to do something funny, like run straight into a chest of drawers.
This is something in which we’ve all had experience. You swear your eyes are open, you swear you sort of see what is right ahead of you, but…
But you don’t. You run into the newly purchased blanket chest. Or, as I did in childhood, when my mom moved my bed, you open the door to the closet, convinced it’s the door to the bathroom (okay, I might have been sleep walking) and only realize you’re wrong when you’ve made a mess of the blankets in storage.
It’s even easier to make a mess of a country – which is one of the reasons that I’m strongly against top down control. It’s very hard to get around what you “know” to be true. You don’t realize it’s only an assumption, because you “assume” you have backing to it. After all, all your teachers told you…
All that and fifty cents will buy you… okay, not a cup of coffee because people at the top have assumed that they can run the printing presses night and day without creating inflation, and they’ve lied in their own statistics to make it appear there is no inflation, and then they believe their statistics and… You see where this ends? It ends with the country looking much like those poor blankets.
This is one of the useful things about science fiction: it pulls the assumptions out from under how you view reality. It changes everything around so that you can examine your assumptions in another light.
Take for instance the idea that if we could just get the perfect ruler then top down control would be fine. Well, science fiction allows you to play with that – and I actually had fun with it, in Darkship Renegades, which came out in December – and it allows you to ask “what is perfect?” and “how do we ensure they stay perfect with our imperfect methods of raising” and “if perfect doesn’t mean omniscient, how would they know what the people really are thinking/needing, as opposed to what they want to hear (and their bureaucrats tell them?”
If you try to debate this with someone who tells you “It would work if only we had the right people in charge” you’re just going to get screamed at. But wrap it in a story that poses the questions, make them think, and next time they hear themselves say that about the perfect people, they’ll stop and go “Now, wait a minute…”
This is, of course, where the science fiction establishment (NYC establishment) has failed us. The only things you are allowed to question is what they want questioned. So Science Fiction becomes just one more voice in a chorus of “distrust all authority but ours” – another voice reinforcing the chorus of wrong. (Hey, remember the stories about the ice age engulfing the planet, followed in close succession by novels and stories about global warming, all of them demanding more government control as a fix? I do.)
They’ve become, to quote Pink Floyd “Another brick in the wall.”
Which is why I’m glad there is Baen – which has never kowtowed to anyone’s opinions, though they prefer you ask your questions with plenty of firepower and explosions and some pretty fast plotting. I have two books coming out from Baen shortly: A Few Good Men, the story of the Earth Revolution (well, the first book.) which comes out in about two weeks, and which explores the questions of “What is worth having a revolution for” and “What is faith?” and “What regime is best for outliers” and “is Freedom worth fighting for even if you lose?” and “Is an imperfect but free regime better or worse than a dictatorship that guarantees safety and stability?”
It answers all those questions with plenty of explosions and tons of fights, of course. [Not to mention some serious beefcake on the cover — Happycrow]
Noah’s Boy, which comes out in July, mostly answers the question “How different can reality be from our perceptions?” No, I’m fairly sure reality TRULY isn’t dragons and were-panthers, but it could be something like that and you’d never know. Which is what the book is all about. Okay, okay, that and nefarious being from the stars, and a were dragon becoming a country singer.
BUT in the end, all of my books are about pulling up the veneer of “everything is normal” and looking beneath. Because what you assume can kill you – particularly if you don’t even know you’re assuming it.