Science Fiction, fantasy, anything in between, most of these stories focus on the big problems. Really big problems, with plenty of drama. Save the village, save the world, save the universe! Life as we know it is over! We read them to dream, to let our imaginations wander. To reconnect with that sense of wonder we felt as a child learning about the world around us with wide eyes and a mind full of more questions. I was thinking about this yesterday as I dealt with Drama at my house. Well, to be specific, at a Taco Bell and a BMV. It’s not entirely my story to tell but it left me thinking about life’s little dramas, and how they might play out in a SFF setting.
In a world full of space ships, who needs to deal with Driver’s Ed any more? Well, how are you going to get around that vast space station/strange planet/hollow asteroid? Public transportation in space will be, I strongly suspect, as dodgy as it is here on this mudball. I taught my daughters how to ride the bus a year or so ago, and it didn’t take the novelty of being able to go places without parental care and wheels long to wear off. They figured out that buses will mysteriously not show up when they are supposed to, or at all. The people riding the bus can range from, ah, overly friendly to just plain strange. Although, you know, how would a down-and-out alien get around without the ability to produce identification for a driver’s license? Explains much about bus riders! But I digress. My girls finally came around to the realization that these driving lessons we’d been trying to nudge them towards weren’t so bad, after all. The Ginja Ninja (my redheaded and oldest still at home) got rather enthusiastic when offered an option to move out predicated on getting a driver’s licence and a car. Which is where the drama came in yesterday…
So how do you teach flying spaceships safely? This seems like it would be more flight-school-esque, which I have a small, tiny really, experience with. I was in Civil Air Patrol and flights were something you get to do as a cadet. There are definitely things I’d like to see my daughters learn about driving that pilots do. Pre-flight inspections of the exterior of the vehicle, for instance. Heck, I know to do it and don’t bother often enough. I’ve had a kind fellow driver honk and lean out his window to shout ‘brake lights aren’t working!’ at me. But how do you do an external on a space ship? Does it have to be done often? What about micrometeorite damage?
It’s hard enough to drive on a two-dimensional plane and try to teach ‘turn here. Not so wide. Not so much gas that early. More gas at the end!’ but what about trying to do that in a busy flight lane of flying cars stacked two dozen deep over a domed metropolis of the future? Sure, self-driving cars/flying saucers might make that easier, but you still need to teach for failures. And just how much is flight school going to cost? Used to be, DriversEd was taught in schools. Now, you pay out of pocket for it, it’s required if you’re under 18 (and makes good sense if still a teenager) and it’s not cheap. How does this affect the socioeconomics of your SF world? Do only the rich or better off (at least) get to move about? Makes for a good story if the poor boy has to work his tail off for the privilege of getting a license to fly and escape the mudball he was born on.
It’s been an adventure, teaching my girls to drive. They were very reluctant – the younger Jr. Mad Scientist is still reluctant, although willing to bow to parental dictates – but my son is raring to go. He’s got a year, until he’s eligible for his learner’s permit, and he’s already planning on it. The First Reader and I have been exchanging nervous glances behind his back (we can’t do it over his head any longer, the Boy is too tall). It’s not like the girls didn’t break my car. They did, a little bit, on a too-wide turn taken too fast that wound up arcing over a deep frozen rut. Sigh. Life comes with sacrifices. Besides, I now have little story tidbits to chew on while I ride along as my daughter does the driving and I try not to clutch the Jesus bar too often.
There’s a big test in our future. I’ll let you know later if you ought to stay off the sidewalks!