clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I don't have a picture today because I haven't any pictures of aliens to share.

It's late. I've been at work for a long day. My creative engine turned wonky on me today.

I read a little last night about Douglas Adams largely because I miss the relief I first felt at hearing on  public radio the audio of the BBC television broadcast of  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I knew that if someone could write the things Adams did, I was in the right universe.

Turns out to be a little harder to do the same than I may have thought at the time .

Anyway, there I was today thinking about my WIP while I did what I needed to be doing with all my full concentration (you see the problem here).

Lem's Roadside Picnic came to mind. The story of Adams hatching the premise of Hitchhiker while lying in a field in Switzerland got all crossed up in the Roadside business and there I was thinking like I had an idea.

I've had aliens on the mind lately for no good reason and then with these two crossed up the story draft I have of a guy killed in a park in Canada when he's hit by a bear carcass wouldn't go away.

Now, the point is this: who meets their demise by colliding with a bear carcass thrown at them (roughly 600 mph else the bear comes apart a little. Don't ask how I know) ? Does it make any sense at all?

That's the point. Aliens are not going to make sense.

Sure, there's the "sufficiently like magic" premise of advanced science. I get it. What if there is also the "completely crazy" part of advanced alien science? What if the leftovers from alien visits/encounters are so bizarre we just don't comprehend the meaning at all?

Picture this.

Sir Issac Newton - a pretty swell physicist despite later delusions he was the son of god - finds a bit leftover from an alien picnic. Let's say it is something you and I can imagine. Better yet, it is something Douglas Adams imagined: a knife which toasts bread as it slices it.

Here is Sir Issac with this knife which makes toast. He knows toast. He knows a knife. He's pretty good at optical transmissions and celestial mechanics. Oh, he's pretty good at abstract thought inventing calculus, too.

He uses the knife to cut an apple and it toasts part of the fruit.

He's not a cook. He thinks the thermal alteration of the apple is some sort of accelerated decay effect. It's a toaster knife. It doesn't make dutch apple pie. It makes - er - toasted apple.

Newton believes the mechanism which he does not understand (physics but not nuclear dynamics or thermodynamics) is a type of decay-inducing weapon (it is a knife). Completely wrong! Bizarre!

Now. Put yourself on vacation in the Canadian wilderness and you find something else. Would you know it and would you understand it? Would you be able to explain its meaning to anyone else based on your observations?

I don't think so. I think that's the problem. Lem really made his world in Roadside understandable according to special rules to we readers. Strange? Sure. But, the world had a definitive logic.

I don't think the alien leftovers from an actual encounter on the Earth would be in any way "logical" to us.

There's the premise. Now, some characters and a good story of, well, murder. Has to be a murder. They're aliens. Somebody would kill over aliens.

Oh, you're right. I'm talking about Canadians. Ex-Nay on the Murder-ay.

Still, there would be conflict. I'll go with conflict.

See? Bloody odd day.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think it's about time for an alien revival. They got pushed aside a bit when the vampires came on the scene...again.

And I think you're right...if the story logic is consistent, readers will go along with it.

Murder and aliens and Canadians...why not? You could make that work!

jack welling said...

Oh, you are so right about the aliens being pushed aside.

Sexy vampires. Even Tilda Swinton got in the act.

Maybe I'll make the aliens debonair. Gene Kelly aliens! Cary Grant aliens! Mae West aliens!