Tinfoil Fedora Time

Before I get to what’s useful for writing, I’d just like to ask the world to spin just a little slower. I could use a couple more hours in each day. I have projects to finish. The car need an oil change, as (probably) does the Valkyrie. And Mrs. Dave’s Jeep. The bedframes are coming together (hehe), but some of the boards need another shot with the sander, and then some stuff needs gluing and screwing (fun, but not fun-fun), and then staining, and I’ll need to acquire some plywood to support the new mattresses. I can almost taste the greater organization of having a clean laundry-room-slash-office.

And then there’s the big stressor: the CPO list. If Mrs. Dave puts on anchors this year, we’re moving. Sometime in the next couple of months. We even know where (very probably). And it’ll be a great thing, once it’s over with. Even once we know, we can actually get started on all the prep, which I’m raring to tackle, honestly. It’s the not knowing that’s eating us. Mrs. Dave’s leadership is expecting it, but they have to in order to not fall horribly behind in the mission. And just because they’re assuming it, it’s easy for us to assume it. But we’ve got no evidence things are going to go either way.

Which brings me to the subject. The world is weird. Weirder than we imagine. Weirder than we can imagine. Which doesn’t much help us as writers, as our fiction has to make more sense than reality. We struggle for verisimilitude. Our worlds and the events therein have to have the feeling of realness, without the actual insanity we see in our own day-to-day.

Fortunately, that very madness is an opportunity. The craziest things that leap out from the social media feed (I almost typed “from the evening news,” and then thought better of it: who watches the evening news, anymore?) don’t have to be the statistical noise they actually are. Florida Man gets most of the press, but people are people everywhere, and while the things they do might seem random to the uninformed, there are plenty of people who claim to see deeper patterns in such events.

Which is where I put on my tinfoil fedora. I even brought enough foil for everybody! Genre fiction requires conflict, and we often like to go for a sense of grand scale. What’s grander than connecting seemingly unconnected events into a tapestry of villainy? The best part is, this barely requires effort on our part. Case in point, a few years back when the Florida Man hopped up on bath salts tried to eat a dude’s face, there were immediate calls of Zombpocalypse!!!1 as soon as the news broke. It’s not a huge stretch to spread that into civilization ending event. I’ve read those books and enjoyed them.

Even more fun (for a given value) is watching the nonsense spouted by the mainstream media and their adjacent fellow travelers and hatching conspiracy where none actually exists. For example, we know tuition costs have risen precipitously over the last handful of decades while primary schools have pushed having a degree as an instant employment guarantee. We also know this hasn’t proven out, while it has helped to engender a greater sense of victimhood among young people. With the victimhood narrative pushed by those same institutions (and somewhat greater than half the national and state legislators), those same disaffected youth have been inordinately voting for foolish and many-times-debunked failed economic ideas. It isn’t hard to have a shadowy cabal meeting in some luxurious surrounding somewhere decades earlier discussing how to ensure the next generation ushers in the glorious revolution. With them or their descendants quietly assuming power from the initial, foam-mouthed revolutionaries. For a science fiction setting, file the serial numbers off and drop in the tested module.

The above *almost* fits reality, and so passes the sniff test for genre fiction. In reality, it’s not a conspiracy so much as a cultural movement driven by far more factors than I mentioned above. And that’s fine. The best conspiracies smack of truth, with just enough hair-raising possibility to entice the reader into asking “what if…” Which is the whole point, really.


  1. oh, you can write genre stories without conflict, and probably win a hugo… just dont expect it to sell.

  2. Conspiracies are more fun than the naturally perverse spirit of mankind because the second can’t be fixed in a story.

  3. I believe it’s more because of high-stakes testing, and the belief that you can quantitatively measure how educated someone is. IMHO, by such quantative measuring, there is an assumption that “higher” means more superior. This is why, in my community, getting into “a good college” is the endpoint of education. Also, there has been a great shaming of people who are skilled artisans, and have different ideas of what education means. Because 0f quantitification, there’s a general societal agreement of “smart” and “good.”, that people who are not good at test taking are “less good.” PS. My community is almost 100% college educated, and about 40% with some post baccalaureate education. Also, it is an extremely wealthy community, where there is no real material want for necessities.

  4. That conspiracy theory would have to include at least one of the Supreme Court Justices who ruled that pre-employment aptitude tests were illegal discrimination. Which caused employers to use a college degree as a proxy, and started the snowball.

    In recent days, I’ve been thinking about Perot, and the seriously weird dropping out/defiantly re-entering spouting a ridiculous conspiracy theory, which torpedoed his run.
    Considered in the light of the past four years…(Supported by much evidence that he hadn’t become senile or otherwise lost touch with reality. And Papa Bush’s friends in the CIA previously giving him illicit help in a “scandal” that I as a political news junkie had never heard of. )
    It looks more likely than not that “the hand grenade with a haircut” was telling the truth!

  5. Same problem with really alien aliens: If they’re always doing stuff that makes no sense to humans, even alien-expert humans, the book gets weird.

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