and Other Sci Fi Ideas
an article by Dave Eversole
A casual exchange of emails with Randall Landers, the senior editor and publisher of Orion Press, culminated in a discussion of how we seized upon ideas to incorporate into our fiction. We thought the gist of the exchange might prove beneficial to other writers casting about for that one notion they needed to write a story.
"Where do you get those crazy ideas?" the refrain goes when a non-fan confronts a science fiction author.
Harlan Ellison is famous for saying he sends ten bucks a month to a little old lady in Schenectady, New York, and in return receives a fresh ten-pack of ideas (this was some decades ago, so I imagine inflation has shot the womans going price through the roof). The late, great Theodore Sturgeon joked that every morning he put a bowl of fresh milk on his porch, and when he checked in the evening the milk was gone, and a list of ideas lay beside the bowl. Ray Bradbury, eschewing these gentlemens humor, simply states that he just looks around -- "Ideas are everywhere."
Now, honestly, I am in no way, shape or form what one would call a successful writer. Im a Computer Numeric Control Machinist who also happens to write for enjoyment, with a hopeful eye to eventual financial edification, of course. Most of my writing is of screenplays and the script reviews for Unseen Elements. A speculative script for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine garnered me an invitation to pitch to that program back in 1995. Three of my original feature-length scripts have placed high in national screenplay competitions -- one, entitled "Vasquez Rocks" (its a romantic comedy, Star Trek fans, and only uses that famous filming location as a metaphor) is a current quarterfinalist in Gordy Hoffmans 2008 Bluecat Screenplay Competition.
So, honesty above all else, I dont know all of the answers, and some might opine that the quantity is closer to "none" of the answers. Nonetheless, well look at where I got the idea for "Settlers," my first piece of Star Trek fan fiction.
I was born in 1964, far too late to have coherent memories of the political and generational turmoil that swept the country in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Coming from a small town in Kentucky, Haight-Asbury was as far away from me as any strange new world the Enterprise ever visited.
Over the years, though, Ive met my share of so-called "Old Hippies" -- some, like the protagonist of The Bellamy Brothers famous song, "still aint changed [their] lifestyle," [they like] it better the old way." Around 1990, a cabbie in Fairbanks, Alaska, ferrying me onto Fort Wainwright, noticed my CD, The Worst of Jefferson Airplane, and spent the entire ride decrying the fact that the world had reached an apex during 1967s "Summer of Love," and had been going downhill ever since. A current sixty-year-old co-worker, his shoulder-length, thinning gray hair held in place by a bandanna, still swears allegiance to Timothy Leary, and refuses to acknowledge any authority (well, he does make an exception for our shift supervisor).
But those are just the visible reminders of the 1960's--the ones the media like to trot out to belittle and increase their ratings. Most of those runaway kids haunting the corners and back alleys of San Francisco were protesting only their strict parents. Cold and hungry, most returned home, went off to college, married, raised 2.5 children, sunk themselves into a double mortgage, and have voted Republican since 1984. Their photographs and memorabilia, as brittle as their osteoporotic bones, are stuffed into closets, hidden in mildewing cardboard boxes in their basements and attics. When the grandkids go snooping and find the faded picture of the braless, barefoot chick in tie-dye, poncho and peace buttons, Grandma, embarrassed, pleads ignorance, or asks, "Whered you get that?!"
Sadly, many of those sincerely wanting to change the world for the better have given up -- their idealism as dead as Jimi, Janis and Jim.
Simply put, this story grew out of those observations. We all settle, to one extent or another.
That, and the fact that "The Final Frontier" is pretty much the same story as "The Way to Eden."
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