This week, C. C. Blake returns with a brand new issue of his Sweaty Space Operas magazine. Two stories show off all new sectors of Blake’s sandbox playground, including a sector owned by crime bosses as well as a jungle world known as the Emerald and Azure Hell!
Today, Blake will keep it real with a bit of news that has stuck in his craw.
Take it away, Blake!
About Being Better Than We Are
By C. C. Blake
Hello Considering Stories readers. It’s Blake again, writing from the east side of the Great State of Texas where Oil and Gas corporate giants play and business is a booming. Almost literally. As I write this, news is filtering in about a massive oil field explosion in Mexico that led to over eighty reported deaths. Companies are scrambling to cover their own butts with both hands and yet still manage to point fingers at those low-life fuel thieves who would dare to install an illegal tap on their safety culture approved rigs. Well, as someone who has a history with the O&G services industry, I can say that while there may be a thriving industry of theft, there’s probably some blame that can shift toward the company itself. That’s right, I’m biting the hand that feeds me in some ways. People ought to do that more often, don’t you think? Maybe those hands would stop trying to cover their own posteriors and extend toward building something durable, useful, and efficient that builds market share AND helps people out. Am I living a pipe dream? Maybe.
There are characters in my stories who would never think to do both things, of course. How and why should I expect real life folks driven by greed and bottom lines to behave any differently? Well, I probably should not, but I do. Damn it, I want people to behave in a more noble way than they historically have.
No one is wholly innocent in such a circumstance as happened Friday night, and while it’s easy (and fiscally safe) to lay the blame at dead men and women’s feet, there’s an interplay between cultural constructs here. One of these promotes itself as a safety conscious industry, though tap root analysis of Negative Situations will often side with the cost of safety implementation instead of siding with what would actually solve problems—solutions that require large policy and industry-wide changes are hella expensive and reap little in visible returns so the prevalent thought is “Do we have to make those changes? Can’t we go the cheap route?” This needs to change. Another culture at play here is the one that made those poor bastards who may (or may not have) installed the tap in the first place to believe such dangerous work was necessary. There must be a demand for illegally obtained fuel, right? That needs to change too, though it’s a foreign nation so our American dollars and voices will ultimately have little to do and/or say in any changes that need to be made. Well, the voices part has little to do. Global business is a business all its own, of course. Money talks louder than a hundred thousand concerned citizens; unless, that is, those citizens are performing an armed coup, but even then money is behind them in one way or another. Supplies ain’t free, ladies and gents. It’s a complicated topic, this interplay of cultures. Complicated and a pain in the butt to think about, but damn it we owe it to ourselves and our fellow human beings to do better.
Considering Stories is not usually a political platform. Sometimes Daniel and Trista’s politics sneak their way into a review here or there, the Ryan Coogler retrospective reviews come to mind, so I suppose I ought to just keep my mouth shut. However, sometimes I can’t do that.
When I was writing the stories that would eventually make their way into the Sweaty Space Operas magazine, I was not interested in prognosticating. Science fiction as a crystal ball is pretty lousy, all told. Individual stories rely on one or a handful of innovations to drive their stories, while the real world besets us with dozens of new tech goodies each week. The bleeding edge rockets along, so the hard sf world is a tricky thing to maneuver. I much prefer thinking about people, who for all their STEM advances have remained similar to what they were fifty or a hundred years ago. The conflicting passions that drive us—the pettiness and the nobility, the greed and the compassion, name your favorite pairing—have stayed constant since mankind crawled out of caves and moved from hunting/gathering to setting down agriculture. It’s kind of depressing and at the same time it’s a bit reassuring to think that the human beings of tomorrow (singularity willing, of course) will be not-too-dissimilar to the human beings of today.
As a seeker of drama, I have looked into the uglier aspects of the human emotional beast and dragged out staple pulp villains: Nazis, corrupt officials, serial baddies, Russian bad guys, and crooks. They seemed to speak to the sorts of future-pasts I was interested in writing about, but I did not and do not want to live in futures where these pulp stereotypes hold sway. Ten years ago they seemed quaint and impossible. Now they are showing up in our day-to-day world, again. I suppose Corporate baddies have been with us since the oil barons and whatnot. Noir genre has made a fine history of using magnates and companies as perpetrators of villainy. I’m sure there were plenty of Victorian authors who had things to say about the industrial revolution and the folks who made millions off the sweat, hard work, and broken backs of the folks who swung the hammers and did the menial tasks (a certain Christmas haunted money house master by the name of Scrooge comes to mind, but you can tell that’s fiction because he learns the error of his ways without losing a dime).
So, when we think of villains in a pulp fiction vein we think of career criminals, we think of adherents to a violent propaganda, and we think of big business. Funny how all three of these vastly different groups intersect in some way at least in our imaginations. And when we look at the papers or listen to the news, who are the villains today? Career criminals, adherents to violent propaganda, and big business . . . It’s enough to make a man weep for our future.
Well, there are a lot of hurt folks in the world thanks to that oil field fracas, and I’m willing to bet a lot of restless dead as well. It’s hard to pimp a magazine of pulpy space opera stories at the moment, but maybe they will help us get a moment’s breath away from the world we live in and visit one where the villainous pay and the dark forces can be overcome despite how overwhelming they might seem to be. I wrote these things because I wanted us to aspire to be better than we are.
We should live in a happier world, all told. We should be better than this. Times of tragedy can show our species at its best, but why are we stuck in that mode? We can also be at our best in times of peace and happiness, can’t we? Sure we can.
Well, if that ray of sunshine didn’t sway you to give the eighth issue of Sweaty Space Operas a chance, then nothing will! For those looking for Blake’s passion applied to less hot topics, his new book is available in both paperback and eBook editions. Grab a copy from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, or your favorite vendor today!
Do you have a book coming out? Would you like to show your flair for impassioned writing either about a heartfelt topic, an influential book or film, or some other topic of interest, then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk about getting a Tuesday Tease entry up and getting some fresh eyes on your work.
“About Being Better Than We Are” is copyright © 2019 by C. C. Blake.