The Sleep Of Reason by Chuck Thurston

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pantheon of the gods

Many of us believe things to be true that have been proved not – e.g., President Obama is Muslim or Kenyan-born. Many of us do not believe in things that have been demonstrated to be true – climate change is one of the most pervasive non-beliefs.

These positions are part of our personal belief systems. If we disagree with the president’s policies, believing that he has strong ties to a particular religion or country allows us to rationalize behaviors of his we see as suspicious. It confirms our fear, and we tell our acquaintances, “See! I told you so!”

If we don’t believe in climate change, then the dire predictions of what the long term consequences are likely to be won’t worry us.

In either case, our beliefs are driven by fear. Franklin Roosevelt took the office of the presidency during the depths of the depression – with turmoil in Europe and the Far East. He quickly realized that many public fears were irrational or unfounded and kept the nation from moving toward solutions. He was probably familiar with Mark Twain’s famous quote: “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened!”

FDR early on told people “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”

I recently discovered the science fiction of Alice Mary Norton, who wrote under the pen name of Andre Norton. Female sci fi writers were rarer than hen’s teeth and had very little cred amongst fantasy and sci fi readers in the 50’s and 60’s. I won’t go into a long critique of her work – which I am enjoying – but a particular passage in one of her works stuck with me. Here’s the scene:

A group of space travelers from earth land on a strange planet – almost paradisiac in its beauty, climate and inhabitants – a gentle, handsome Polynesian-type race with extraordinary ESP skills. They can, for instance, communicate with dolphins. In the course of events, the earthmen are following a native girl, guiding them through some very old, dark tunnels toward an old structure that may be frequented by an ancient evil that frightens the natives. At one point the girl says that these tunnels are inhabited by their “old gods” – and they have hundreds – and to disturb them is very dangerous. The girl is terrified and is ready to abandon the expedition.

One of the earthmen attempts to calm her fears. He says, “But they are not our gods! There is no power where there is no belief!” Another adds, “No being without belief!” The girl eventually concludes that she must be safe if she is in the company of those who simply do not believe – and therefore evaporate – the old deity’s which so frighten her. The troop continues on.

So Norton’s characters are saying that if you don’t believe in these whatevers, they cease to exist. Is it this easy? Over the course of millennia, humans have taken up, worshipped, and eventually discarded – thousands of gods. Most of us don’t believe that Thor or Jupiter have any power over us any more. We aren’t moved to offer up prayers to Venus or Aphrodite in exchange for some favor. Is there going to be an eventual discarding of whatever is left?

Should we consider bringing back a few specialists to handle modern complexities – or does boiling it down to one streamline the process and make it more efficient for the digital age?

Chuck Thurston’s “Senior Scribbles” are available on Amazon. He is currently working on a longer work, but the muse of mystery thrillers hasn’t helped him much. He is about ready to dump her and try cheap wine.

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Funky Friday Sci-Fi by Chuck Thurston

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My wife and I started a new Friday evening tradition.  I discovered that you can find old full length sci-fi movies on YouTube and play them  through your TV!  We’ve seen three so far and I believe that the common denominator is that all of the titles are misleading!

Take Devil Girl From Mars.  This is no girl, boys – this is a woman.  W-O-M-A-N!   She is here to recruit healthy, virile males to replace the increasingly wussy Martian men.  Furthermore, she is dressed in cape, high boots and shiny black vinyl.

devil-girl-mars

And she is having problems?  Her first mistake was landing her damaged spaceship outside a little Scottish countryside tavern.  She tries negotiation first (before she resorts to intimidation), but they have to put on a pot of tea and think it over.  I will never look at the Highland Games the same.

The Riders To The Stars don’t actually go to the stars.  In fact, they never leave low earth orbit. Even the cosmologists of 1954 knew better than that.  Scientists want to know why some meteors survive the atmosphere and strike the earth intact.  They suspect that they are coated with some substance – that if it were found  – could enable them to build spaceships that would stand the rigors of outer space.

They send three meteor-collecting rockets out there to capture some and bring them back. The pilots are all scientists with not as much as an hours flight time in a Piper Cub, but never mind.  Two of the boys come croppers, but the last (and best looking one) grabs a rock – using the last of his fuel and has to crash land in the desert.

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His space ship is torn to shreds, but he is a miraculous survivor and comes back to conscientiousness just in time to suck face with the gorgeous Doctor Flynn, who has lusted for him from the beginning.

A very young Robert Loggia is the lead in The Lost Missile, and he would probably be just as happy if this piece of work was left off his filmography.  Well, the missile isn’t lost at all.  It damn well knows what it’s all about.  It came from outer space and is circling the world at low altitudes and leaving a five mile path of destruction below it as it cruises along.

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Ultimately these orbits will leave the earth a cinder, so something must be done.  The film looks to have been made for Civil Defense footage and a lot of time is taken showing populations heading for underground shelters or fleeing the anticipated path.  Poor Ottawa is in the way, and school children are shown crawling beneath their desks, curling up in a ball and tucking their head between their legs.   Their next logical action should have been to kiss their patooties goodbye, given the scenes of Ottawa’s post missile condition that follow.

New York is next in the path, and I won’t spoil the ending for you.  Ask Robert Loggia, if you can contact him – but he may not own up to it.