I have a problem: I can’t read.
Nor can I watch TV, or sit through movies. I probably have the smallest videotape and DVD library in the western world (but it’s not the size of something that matters, as I’m sure you already know).
But why is that? How could someone with my literary abilities and standing be able to make such a statement?
It’s simple, really. I can’t stop critiquing what I read or watch; there is no ‘OFF’ switch in my brain, that lets me stop rewriting everything I read or watch.
Even women who adore me refuse to discuss books or movies with me, any more, because I can demolish just about any story, with very little effort – not out of any desire to do so, but simply because I cannot force myself to believe some of the things that writers expect us to ‘take as read’.
Science Fiction is the worst. I spent so many years science-writing, and documenting engineering and computer matters, that I’m afraid my belief is not easily suspended.
That is: A story has to be damned credible, and damned well researched, for me to even begin to get into it, let alone enjoy it.
You have to make me believe that something is possible, not just say ‘this is how it is’, and expect me to swallow it.
The Credible Invasions project began, without my knowing it, some five or six years ago.
I was discussing story ideas with a few Sci-Fi writers, one of whom said that he was working on a story that involved the Earth being invaded by aliens.
“Why would they want to invade Earth?” I asked, and the die was cast.
He explained that he had come up with a brilliant new reason for such an invasion, and was very secretive about it – and the gauntlet was cast!
“Well,” said I, “if it’s slaves, it’s a non-starter, because any race that can create ships to travel between stars won’t need slaves, because machines are lower maintenance and less trouble to control.
“If it’s physical or chemical resources, then they can just go anywhere – the best place would be near a recent super-nova; anything they could possibly need would be just sitting there, waiting to be harvested.”
“Ah, but what about biological resources?” someone else chimed in. “The human brain, for example, is a far better computing device than anything else we know of.”
“That’s true now, maybe, but I’m willing to bet that we’ll have computers that outstrip the brain long before we get out into the stars – and that’s not to mention that aliens would probably have precious little use for human ‘computers’.
“After all, using our wetware as part of their technology would mean that they would have to create a whole new branch of science, just to master the human brain’s usage – when they will have had millennia of studies on the brains of creatures on their own world. Why go to so much effort, and risk your own people in battle, when you can breed little green monkeys, back home, that have brains you can use without having to write a new set of manuals?”
“How about food?” another poor ingénue, who knew me not well enough, suggested. “People travel far and wide to get delicacies that they can’t get at home, because they want authentic flavours.”
“Sure, but turkeys, tobacco, and potatoes all came from the Americas. Where are they produced now? And if you’re talking recipes, have you ever been to China? The so-called Chinese food we eat here bears almost no resemblance to the real deal – so aliens won’t, by and large, insist on human-bone-marrow soup; they’ll just make it with little-green-pig bone marrow, and put that in small writing on the back of the can.”
... And so it went. Every reason that anyone could come up with for a planetary invasion, I tore to pieces with a few common-sense words – because, let’s face it, invading other planets Makes No Sense.
Why go to war to obtain something that you can obtain or produce with much less effort and waste?
I thought about it, though, in the taxi on the way home, and typed out a few quick notes for my “One Day” directory, before retiring for the night in a drunken stupor.
A couple of weeks ago, I came across that file again. It contained solid ideas for planetary invasions that actually did make sense – eleven of them, in all.
Six of them would require a lot of work, to turn into stories, because in-depth expositions of the alien cultures are needed, but the other five...
... Are right here. They are stripped down to an absolute bare minimum, with few ‘wasted’ words – a couple of minutes’ read each – so they leave a lot of story for you to imagine for yourself, but I have ensured that enough is there that the whole picture is visible.
Read, enjoy, and Watch the Skies!
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