Home « Forum « Story Discussion and Feedback

Forum: Story Discussion and Feedback

Talk about "dated"

Switch Blayde

This is from a novel pocketbook on SOL. My guess is it was published in the 1970s. The family lives in San Francisco.

"I don't know why we can't afford a better place than this, she thought. Roger makes good money, almost a thousand dollars a month, and we live like we're in the throes of poverty. Well, I'm tired of it. We've been married for two years now, and we have almost eleven thousand dollars saved. That ought to be enough for that split-level in San Bruno that Roger is always talking about buying, shouldn't it? At least for the down payment, and for new furniture and appliances and things like that?"

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Switch Blayde

It's the proportionality that's interesting. To update it, he'd be making $1000 per _week_ but the split-level in San Bruno would be $1.2 _million_, a ratio of four times increase in wages but TEN times increase in housing price.

About right for the collapse of middle-class wages in the U.S.

docholladay

@graybyrd

Another form of dating a story is when the President and/or Vice-President of the U.S. are named in a story. Much safer to use their title than their name, that way it can be any administration.

Bondi Beach

@graybyrd

It's the proportionality that's interesting. To update it, he'd be making $1000 per _week_ but the split-level in San Bruno would be $1.2 _million_, a ratio of four times increase in wages but TEN times increase in housing price.


The difference between San Francisco and San Bruno isn't quite as great as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug, but it's along that continuum. In other words, prices in San Bruno certainly have increased but we are not talking San Francisco here.

San Bruno is opposite SFO. It's perfectly decent but not a glamour town and has none of the sexiness of San Francisco.

bb

Replies:   richardshagrin
samuelmichaels

@graybyrd

It's the proportionality that's interesting. To update it, he'd be making $1000 per _week_ but the split-level in San Bruno would be $1.2 _million_, a ratio of four times increase in wages but TEN times increase in housing price.

$4000/month might be a bit conservative. Don't know the social context, but "makes good money" around San Francisco may well be $10k/month or more.

graybyrd

Perhaps my point was too subtle. The major change since the 70's is the increased gap between a middle-class wage earner, and their purchasing power. By "proportionality" I mean ratio between a typical "good" paycheck, and the ability to purchase a home, new car, send kids to college, etc. Clear?

It's generally accepted that it takes two wage-earners now to buy a home and make mortgage payments. It's gotten disproportionately worse since the '70s. Unless, of course, the wage earner is a Silicon Valley wunderkind.

Replies:   Joe_Bondi_Beach
richardshagrin

@Bondi Beach

San Bruno is opposite SFO. It's perfectly decent but not a glamour town and has none of the sexiness of San Francisco.


Tony Bennett's heart was left in San Francisco. There is an unidentified gall bladder left in San Bruno.

Joe_Bondi_Beach

@graybyrd

It's generally accepted that it takes two wage-earners now to buy a home and make mortgage payments. It's gotten disproportionately worse since the '70s. Unless, of course, the wage earner is a Silicon Valley wunderkind.


Both spouses need to be wunderkinders to buy a house in Palo Alto today.

docholladay

There are many potential causes for a story becoming dated. Not all of them are obvious ones.

Replies:   Dicrostonyx
Dicrostonyx

@docholladay

There are many potential causes for a story becoming dated. Not all of them are obvious ones.


Exactly. The above price differentials might date the story, but they shouldn't affect its overall readability, unless it turns out that this is a modern story and the author is just oblivious. On the other hand, there are lots of influential and award-winning SF novels from the 50's through the 80's which are almost unreadable today due to the aggressiveness of the cold war/Russia is evil settings.

And that's not even getting into subtler things like changes in how audiences approach content, story-lines, and realism.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dicrostonyx

On the other hand, there are lots of influential and award-winning SF novels from the 50's through the 80's which are almost unreadable today due to the aggressiveness of the cold war/Russia is evil settings.


I believe "1984" is no longer required reading in the school system.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I believe "1984" is no longer required reading in the school system.


it dang well should be, for the validity of the content, even if the dating is a little off

Replies:   Bondi Beach  tppm
docholladay

@Switch Blayde

I believe "1984" is no longer required reading in the school system.


Required reading lists can cause some students to quit reading instead of encouraging them to read. I have helped students with that problem in the past. I followed a basic procedure: Find out their reading comprehension level. Find out what their interests were. Go to the library with them and find books that were just a little above their current comprehension levels that were using the things which interested them. Funny thing is that had much wider influence than just their reading skills. So many areas of knowledge are combined into even simple everyday activities. The results were their reading skill improved, their math improved, their science (many different ones) improved and above all their language skills improved. Funny part was they studied all of the parts outside the reading on their own instead of being required to do so.

graybyrd

@Switch Blayde

I believe "1984" is no longer required reading in the school system.


Probably because it's been moved from the "fiction" category and reclassified as "non-fiction" and thus requires a different curriculum authorization.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

"fiction" category and reclassified as "non-fiction"


wouldn't surprise me to learn it's in the same section as the Civics and Government text books section, now.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Bondi Beach

@Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde
I believe "1984" is no longer required reading in the school system.

it dang well should be, for the validity of the content, even if the dating is a little off


Second that.

bb

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

wouldn't surprise me to learn it's in the same section as the Civics and Government text books section, now.

Sadly, that's not what sank "1984". Instead, once the year 1984 rolled around, most schools immediately dumped it from their reading lists as being "dated" or "old school". It's rejection was more due to a random detail than content or style.

Great books don't become "Ungreat", they just are no longer recognized for a wide variety of reasons other than content.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Instead, once the year 1984 rolled around, most schools immediately dumped it from their reading lists as being "dated" or "old school". It's rejection was more due to a random detail than content or style.


I thought it had to do with the title. The first part of your sentence suggests that, but then you added the second part.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Yeah, it was the title that did the book in. I was referring to the perception that a book set in the future can't have occurred in the past. The book was as good as it ever was, but the fact that 1984 was no longer futuristic was the book's kiss of death.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Crumbly Writer

The book was as good as it ever was, but the fact that 1984 was no longer futuristic was the book's kiss of death.

Time to re-release it.
2084.

docholladay

@Grant

No its the narrow minded attitude of many so-called educators. The same ones that will insist a 3rd or 4th grader read Dickens as required reading. He is darn hard to understand when much older let alone at that age bracket. Then they wonder why the kids never develop the reading skill properly. The kids wind up hating reading with that tactic.

Replies:   bjjohns
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Grant


Time to re-release it.

2084.


nah get the heirs to approve a retitle and amendment to 2084.

Edit to add: Just checked, Orwell died in 1950 and the book was published in the UK when copyright was life plus 50 years, so in the UK, and most of the world, it's now out of copyright. Not sure how those crazed US laws apply to it, because they allow a third party to renew copyrights.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Probably the publishers doing. It would sure increase the profit margins of the book.

tppm

@Ernest Bywater

I believe "1984" is no longer required reading in the school system.

it dang well should be, for the validity of the content, even if the dating is a little off


Republish it with the original title, 1948. Orwell was a pessimist and was describing current events, only slightly exaggerated, as he saw them.

bjjohns

@docholladay

That is pretty much what docholliday said.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@bjjohns

The original I take it. Then again thanks to some details in my life I learned first hand one possible reason for the constant traveling him and other top-guns did. You get tired of having to keep your back to the wall, preferably in a corner.

Dominions Son

@graybyrd

San Bruno would be $1.2 _million_, a ratio of four times increase in wages but TEN times increase in housing price.


That factor of 10 increase in housing prices is pretty much unique to California. It is the result of the combination of a large increase in population, much of it upper middle class, and government policies that are hostile to the construction of new housing.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Not especially unique to California. Try Seattle, for instance (we live north of there). Some years previously, I owned an Idaho newspaper near Sun Valley (ketchum), Idaho. Housing prices there were so high that hired help couldn't afford to live there; they began busing them in from south of the valley, from "poor" rural areas. Same for Jackson Hole, Wyo. And it began to happen in the Bitter Root Valley of Montana, south of Missoula, when "beautiful people" began buying large ranches that had fallen into the economic cauldron of America's small farm/ranch depression policies.

Even where my wife and I bought our newspaper, the small rural valley had been severely impacted by the California "aerospace industry collapse" when California emigres sold their homes, and came to Idaho to "begin again" ... it was common for them to purchase a rural Idaho home for cash (paying an inflated price!) and then be able to live for a year without working, on what was left over from their California sale. This had the effect of inflating our local prices, literally overnight.

So it's a combination of many things... usually people with too much money, in an area with too little housing, with market forces running out of control.

Oh, speaking of Seattle? It's very similar now to San Francisco as regards inflated housing prices, and apartment rentals are totally out of sight. If "commoners" hadn't bought when the market was low, they'd be living in East Jesus, Nevada, somewhere in the desert where housing is more affordable. Except don't try that in Pahrump, Nevada, where the "alternative" to outrageous Las Vegas prices are having a collateral effect.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@graybyrd

in an area with too little housing


And this factor is almost always a result of state/local hostility to the construction of new housing.

There may be a few instances where this obtains on a strictly temporary basis due to a sudden influx of wealthy residents, but that is the exception, not the rule.

For such a situation to sustain beyond a year or two requires housing hostile government policy.

Replies:   graybyrd  sejintenej
graybyrd

@Dominions Son

And this factor is almost always a result of state/local hostility to the construction of new housing.


Perhaps, but honestly, the only instance I've seen is Portland, OR which decided to curb unrestrained urban sprawl by (I can't remember the name) passing a severely restrictive measure which mandated that all new construction would be within the corporate city limits, "infilling" available space. I've heard no real blow-back on that; what I have heard is that folks down there accept it as a successful means to develop Portland as a desirable urban habitat.

The "hostility" faced by most developers is usually expressed in the form of restrictive codes, zoning limits, and so-called "impact" fees, meaning anywhere from a few thousand to many thousands of dollars charged for impacts on local roads, services, schools, and other infrastructure impacts. Which makes sense: why should existing homeowners be forced to pay for new roads and utility upgrades to serve a new 300-home development?

BUT... all of this adds hugely to new home costs, and by association, increases the value of existing properties. And increases local pressures to force compliance with existing home-owner association and local ordinances to prevent property-value impacts by an elderly resident who cannot keep up his lawns and shrubs to suit the neighbors, or a rebellious ham radio operator who feels a need to put up a new antenna behind his house.

We should avoid blaming the "gawddamned gubbermint" for our troubles, eh? In truth, them "gawddamned bureaucrat basturds" is ... ourselves.

Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

We should avoid blaming the "gawddamned gubbermint" for our troubles, eh? In truth, them "gawddamned bureaucrat basturds" is ... ourselves.

Personally, I think the U.S. should vote the voters out of office. Whoever they elect in this election is going to be a bad choice, and we only have ourselves to blame for it. Maybe taking people out of the political process will improve it.

2020: Elect a robot! They may not do the job, but at least you'll get a charge out of the election!

Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

home-owner association


that's one thing we Aussie don't have to worry about, yet. Down here the closest we get is an incorporated body for a set of units / apartments, what those in the USA call a condominium block. The other is the local council and the state government. No local association of home owners going crazy forcing idiot rules down people's throats.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

U.S. should vote the voters out of office

I cannot agree - however stupidly they may act.

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" - Winston Churchill

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Ross at Play

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" - Winston Churchill


I'd agree, except the USA is no longer a democracy. The iron grip of partisan politics and the abuse of power to assure near-perpetual incumbency (one example: electoral district gerry-mandering), coupled with corrupt contribution schemes, has essentially destroyed the 'democratic' character of US governance.

I believe in democracy, except we ain't got it here. What we've got is an oligarchy, a political system governed by a few people (the ultra-wealthy & their corporate interests), pure & simple.

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

And this factor is almost always a result of state/local hostility to the construction of new housing.

There may be a few instances where this obtains on a strictly temporary basis due to a sudden influx of wealthy residents, but that is the exception, not the rule.

For such a situation to sustain beyond a year or two requires housing hostile government policy.

We have a similar situation. Government has ordered our town to build x new houses (where x is large!). The council approved a considerable number of houses in one particular area and at the same time refused to allow the overcrowded local school permission to build new classrooms.
This justifies the feeling that the word "politician" is means "moron"

richardshagrin

@graybyrd

I believe in democracy, except we ain't got it here. What we've got is an oligarchy, a political system governed by a few people (the ultra-wealthy & their corporate interests), pure & simple.


We started as a Republic, with limited national government since powers not expressly given were reserved for the states or the people. The initial electorate were almost all wealthy, principally landowners since that was wealth in those days, with a sprinkling of merchants and owners of manufacturing businesses. One of the big issues was tariffs, the north with businesses wanted high ones so they could impose high prices, the south, mostly landowners wanted low ones so they could buy foreign goods at good prices.

Of course slaves didn't vote, but got counted as 3/5ths of a person for deciding how many citizens a state had to determine how many Representatives in Congress a state got. Very few, perhaps no poor people voted, the rich who were the legislature decided on wealth requirements to be able to vote. Popular election of Senators was unusual. Mostly the State Legislatures selected Senators.

We started out with an Oligarchy, things have evolved, but the founding fathers might recognize that rich people are still in charge for the most part, no matter how many "citizens" vote, or don't.

If governments rob Peter to pay Paul, governments can rely on the support of Paul.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Ross at Play

@graybyrd

I agree with your analysis of the current problems, especially gerry-mandering, but if you get rid of voters the oligarchy will stop even pretending there is an effective democracy there!

blacksash

@Crumbly Writer

Why settle for the lesser evil? Vote for Chtulhu, the greater evil!

Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

Mars appears to be populated entirely by robots. Is it a really bad example?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lugh

Mars appears to be populated entirely by robots. Is it a really bad example?

And here I'd always assumed (based on the literature) it was ruled by Amazons.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

And here I'd always assumed (based on the literature) it was ruled by Amazons.


They just rule their commercial access to the literature and culture.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

They just rule their commercial access to the literature and culture.

It's hard to argue commercial viability with scantily clad muscular young women beating up young men!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

It's hard to argue commercial viability with scantily clad muscular young women beating up young men!


That's how they control the sales and marketing side.

samuelmichaels

@Crumbly Writer

Dejah Thoris, Yum!

Not_a_ID

@richardshagrin

Of course slaves didn't vote, but got counted as 3/5ths of a person for deciding how many citizens a state had to determine how many Representatives in Congress a state got. Very few, perhaps no poor people voted, the rich who were the legislature decided on wealth requirements to be able to vote.


People keep chopping off the context on that decision. It's getting increasingly irksome with how some people try to skew it. Many of the people drafting the Constitution wanted to abolish slavery outright, including some of the slave owners. However, they knew that such a solution wasn't going to get them anywhere in many of the colonies. So they compromised.

It was openly understood then, and should be blatantly obvious to any rational person today, that slaves and voting don't mix. Either because their owners would ensure they never voted, or that when they did, they voted as per instructions from their owner. Which in the latter case takes "buying votes" to a whole other level.

But likewise, with the apportionment of the House of Representatives (and Electoral College), the 3/5ths of a person compromise was as much to curtail the viability of any slave-holding state of pursuing a strategy of mass importing slaves expressly for the purpose of gaining undue influence over the Congress of the United States of America.

It wasn't the slave holders who pushed the 3/5ths of a person clause, it was the Abolitionists. But as they say, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Replies:   tppm
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Personally, I think the U.S. should vote the voters out of office. Whoever they elect in this election is going to be a bad choice, and we only have ourselves to blame for it. Maybe taking people out of the political process will improve it.

They were too slow. We could have exported Margaret Thatcher and her handbags. Control the unions, control the NRA, control the bankers and control ....

tppm

@Not_a_ID

The way I learned it, representatives of slave states wanted slaves counted one for one, and abolitionists wanted slaves not counted at all, the 3/5th decision was the compromise they settled on.

Replies:   docholladay  Not_a_ID
docholladay

@tppm

The truth is that most likely there was right and wrong on both sides of the issue. But since the winners are also the ones who write the history books. Their side is the one which is mainly presented without faults.

Its the same today, many judge everyone from certain countries based on a minority portion of the population, since that is what is publicized. (makes the news)

Instead when we take the time to actually understand each other, we find how much we have in common with them. And also how much each of us have to learn from one another. I prefer the learning from each other part much more.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@docholladay

The truth is that most likely there was right and wrong on both sides of the issue. But since the winners are also the ones who write the history books. Their side is the one which is mainly presented without faults.


The survivors are the ones who write the history. In older times on a field of battle, that often translated into only the victorious party still being alive(and able to tell their tales).

Of course, more modern times have put more skew on it. The survivors/witnesses may provide the primary source material, but popular media portrayal often trumps reality and becomes the popularly held reality. As a certain group of Germans demonstrated to great effect about 90 years ago.

Even more recent times have thrown government bureaucrats, school boards, "social engineers" and political activists as well as political agitators into the mix of who writes or otherwise edits the history books which see mass consumption.

The source material hasn't changed, but most people don't read the "primary sources" any more. They get the edited, revised, and highly redacted cliff-notes version instead.

Not_a_ID

@tppm

The way I learned it, representatives of slave states wanted slaves counted one for one, and abolitionists wanted slaves not counted at all, the 3/5th decision was the compromise they settled on.


So then if the abolitionist had their way on apportionment, then it would be "slaves didn't even count as a person." Instead of 3/5ths, that they were counted at all was because of pushback by the pro-slavery crowd. Which is directly counter to the claim the "equal rights" crowd likes to make on this.

The only people who supported counting a slave as a full person for apportionment purposes was a slave holder. The abolitionists(the "equal rights" people of the time) didn't. Which was my point, anyone who harps on the 3/5ths thing to make the founders seem evil don't understand the context of what they're citing. In the context of the time, supporting a full count was tantamount to endorsing slavery.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
graybyrd

From Rob't Heinlein's "Door Into Summer":

"I decided he did not have to answer telephone calls, as AT&T was already renting a gadget for that."

Ah, yes. Remember the days when Mother Bell absolutely refused to sell anything, including a longer handset cord? It was all on the perpetual, never-ending lease-rental plan, with extra charges for initiation and plan cancellation. They even managed to rent "color" ... charging for a telephone of a hue other than basic black. I remember the intense sales representatives pitches to convince me that my household could not survive without the modern _beige_ rotary model. Finally, I surrendered and admitted that we did, indeed, desire to upgrade to a color choice.

"Outstanding, Sir!" the AT&T service lady chirped. "What what color choice do you desire?"

"EBONY!" I barked. She gasped and hung up.

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

So then if the abolitionist had their way on apportionment, then it would be "slaves didn't even count as a person." Instead of 3/5ths, that they were counted at all was because of pushback by the pro-slavery crowd. Which is directly counter to the claim the "equal rights" crowd likes to make on this.

It was all about the votes. Not allowing any votes took away a major faction of the southern states representatives, leaving them weaker. By compromising with 3/5th, the abolitionists essentially guaranteed that slavery would survive for almost another hundred years in exchange for a larger vote for themselves. You can interpret that to mean, "Comprise in the name of principal is no gain" or to paraphrase in the words of B. Goldwater "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!". Every position has multiple sides, and history is never as clear as history books claim.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

Apropos anachronism, I'm dealing with some of it in the prologue of the do-over stories. This is a lot more challenging than the more typical do-over where the protagonist starts teenage again with better decisions, but not trying to change history.

The hell with economics; there are more important things. I have stated, in the prologue, that it's my story and I get to put 1969-1970 skirt lengths into 1963.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Lugh


The hell with economics; there are more important things. I have stated, in the prologue, that it's my story and I get to put 1969-1970 skirt lengths into 1963.


Are you kidding? You're skipping over the introduction of the miniskirt? True, it may look passe to today's taste, but in it's day, it was truly revolutionary and it helped kick off the start of the sexual revolution. I wouldn't trade those days for anything, certainly not an extra inch or two of skin. No one could believe what those women were getting away with, and that feeling of freedom was worth it's weight in gold to an entire generation!

By the way, I'd be cautious inserting warnings into a story as it reads like an apology rather than letting readers discover the story for themselves. If readers don't like your approach, let them complain, but for those who do, don't warn them away from the story before they even begin.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

Assuming that it's already introduced. If I understand your point, yes, its introduction was socially revolutionary, but I can only deal with so many revolutions in one story.

richardshagrin

@Lugh

The Earth revolves around its axis every day and around the sun every year. Sounds like multiple revolutions to me.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@richardshagrin

Rotation versus revolution. You forgot axial drift. :-)

In some SOL context, axial drift may be the problem that one might need assistance in putting one's axis into a moving, well-lubricated receptacle. The symbolism of aircraft refueling with the boom technique is wonderful, except when you remind fighter pilots that they assume the female role.

Replies:   sejintenej
Crumbly Writer

@Lugh

Assuming that it's already introduced. If I understand your point, yes, its introduction was socially revolutionary, but I can only deal with so many revolutions in one story.

Ha-ha. I wasn't suggesting you make it a central premise of your story, simply that you highlight how it affected young people at the time (both male and female) as a counter to using dress styles from a later era which may seen out of character. You needed make a big deal out of it, just have some character comment on a passing 'chick' about how 'hot' the new miniskirt trend is (which would help accentuate what a hedonist Kennedy was).

By the way, I'm assuming you're not going to tackle any of Kennedy's many affairs of the time?

Replies:   Capt Zapp  Lugh
Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

...have some character comment on a passing 'chick' about how 'hot' the new miniskirt trend is...


Or some older people commenting how scandalous it is.

Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, I'm assuming you're not going to tackle any of Kennedy's many affairs of the time?


Rather to the contrary. I mention Fiddle, Faddle, and Mimi. Next, I create a few new ones, variously with a Marilyn lookalike and a Jackie lookalike.

My sense, from recent historical work, is that they may have had an open marriage and Jackie had her affairs. That's one of my assumptions.

He could be nasty with innocent conquests like Mimi, whom he ordered give Dave Powers, his "body man" and apparent procurer, a blow job. Some very thoughtful historians suggest that he compartmented well, being very thoughtful about the people as a whole.

LBJ also had his, which might have included a Texas rattlesnake if it held still long enough.

**Spoiler**

I want JFK to live, not because I want to have more than a passing link to the assassination [attempt], but because I personally believe that he would not have gotten us embroiled in Vietnam. New chapters are starting to shift people in the Administration, people with a better understanding of insurgency and counterinsurgency, and less of a rabid anti-communism (subset China-phobia).

Thinking it might be interesting, somewhere on the Forum, to be discussing these plot ideas.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lugh

Thinking it might be interesting, somewhere on the Forum, to be discussing these plot ideas.

That was my thinking, that you weren't interested in idle speculation about assassination theories, but weren't ready to drop the general discussion of your story ideas (i.e. you weren't ready to abandon the discussion to thread drift).

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

weren't ready to drop the general discussion of your story ideas (i.e. you weren't ready to abandon the discussion to thread drift).


Precisely. It's a big challenge to know how much historical context to set, to understand the problem to be solved. The next problem is to have adequate sex that reinforces the story line -- one assumption that I make is that sexual energies/magick drive the telempathy, rapport, and bonding.

JFK had a good intuitive sense of foreign policy and the military. In contrast, one of the problems was the excessively quantitative approach of the Secretary of Defense, and another was reflexive anti-communism that caused us to ignore opportunities.

It's not just a matter of having JFK's better judgment at the Gulf of Tonkin. I'm having him think twice about the early buildup, rather like Eisenhower would put up a hand and say "enough".

In a few chapters (May 1963, the 2nd anniversary of the commitment to put a man on the moon), I'm having him shift Secretary of Defense McNamara to a science czar role for which he actually might have been excellent. His deputy, Ross Gilpatric steps up, he being one of the few people to manage the JCS during the Cuban Crisis.

I'm building up Roger Hilsman into a major character. Some thought of him as a loose cannon, but he was the only senior official (starting as the head of State Department intelligence) with actual combat experience as a guerrilla. I happen to think highly of him without the enhancements that I'm having him and his wife given by the Alien Space Bats.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Lugh

I was just about to suggest you rethink the 'do-over' approach, as well as the 'alternate universe', and simply start the story with the assassination attempt and have Oswald trip and shoot himself in the foot, causing him to be caught and forever altering history (as a starting point for the story).

That way, you don't have to explain why history is different, it just is (i.e. no one travels back to 'correct' history, it's instead the people who were there to begin with), though with no alien space bats, unless of course they were recovered from Roswell!). 'D

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

This is a universe that picks up from the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think many of you make much more of Oswald than I do.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lugh

This is a universe that picks up from the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think many of you make much more of Oswald than I do.

I wasn't trying to focus on Oswald (I think we've already had enough of that). I couldn't find your original post on the topic, but if I remember correctly, you originally started it of as a 'do-over' or 'alternate universe' story. I was simply suggesting a more natural beginning (handle the obvious issue upfront, though that would require a flash back, which many aren't comfortable with).

Of course you can start the story wherever you want, but I wouldn't sell it as anything other than history that turns out differently. There are just too many pre-existing expectations behind the other story types. I'd also caution you against in-story cautions (as I'd previously cautioned you). 'D

If you start earlier, then you've got to update readers on the type of story you're relating early on so they won't read more into it, which is awkward. The most obvious solution is to simply tell them in an author intervention, but that's ... telling, and it takes readers out of the story. You'll want a more natural transition.

Again, the most obvious solution is a flashback--even if it's not Oswald screwing up. You could have Kennedy reflecting on his life during the swearing in of his successor, but you need a way of assuring readers that this is not some science-fiction story but is simply a reimagining of history (and I'm still not sure whether you were teasing about the alien space bats or not). Another approach would be to bend some other point in history (earlier than I suggested), but that seems to complicate the story even more (and assumes readers will recognize fictional events from real ones).

What you want (in my humble opinion) is some way to alert readers that it's a fictional (not alternate history) historical recount of the Kennedy years, within the story in an easy to accept manner--which can be a tall order.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

fictional (not alternate history) historical recount of the Kennedy years


I am curious as to what you see as the difference between an alternate history and a fictional history. To me, they would seem to be the same thing.

Lugh

@Dominions Son


I am curious as to what you see as the difference between an alternate history and a fictional history. To me, they would seem to be the same thing.


My impression as well. While the story can elaborate, there are distinct points of departure from our history from which much derives. Early on, it's somewhat bureaucratic, with Roger Hilsman growing in influence and establishing himself with JFK. I see the reverse honey traps around JFK as development.

Obviously, the assassination, which I haven't decided exactly how to handle, is a POD. For me, however, the biggest POD will be Kennedy handling the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. There will be lesser PODs where he examines the wisdom of escalation and explores a neutralist solution. Earlier, however, I'll keep the early OPLAN 34A secret operations against the North.

I do expect to have Diem die as he did.

sejintenej

@Lugh

The symbolism of aircraft refueling with the boom technique is wonderful, except when you remind fighter pilots that they assume the female role.

? I thought that the tanker has the cone and the fighter the pitot head

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@sejintenej

I thought that the tanker has the cone and the fighter the pitot head


Correct, which is what confuses me as well. Because it very much is the fighter in possession of "tab a" and pursuing "Slot b."

Best guess is he's asserting the fuel line that cone is attached to is "the engorged penis" or something in that vein.

The imagery then concludes with the tanker then "discharging its (pay)load into the receiving aircraft" and concluding by the tankers "penis" then becoming "flaccid" at the conclusion of the fueling as they retract the fuel line.

So I guess I could kind of see both sides on that one.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Lugh
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I am curious as to what you see as the difference between an alternate history and a fictional history. To me, they would seem to be the same thing.

As far as genre categories, I suspect that many sci-fi fans will see "alternate history" as a flag for a specific type of story. That was the only reason I'd avoid the term. Not because it's inaccurate, only that a certain segment of the reading population may read something more than you intended into it. However, that portion of readers is only a small sliver of your reading population.

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

The imagery then concludes with the tanker then "discharging its (pay)load into the receiving aircraft" and concluding by the tankers "penis" then becoming "flaccid" at the conclusion of the fueling as they retract the fuel line.

So I guess I could kind of see both sides on that one.

Somehow, the analogy falls flat in all but a teasing (non-serious) venue because I see nothing vaguely erotic in airplane refueling that you may in, say, a penis shaped building, or an older man driving a fancy sports car.

Lugh

@Not_a_ID

There are two kinds of aerial refueling. The more common one is probe and drogue, where the fighter has the "penis" and the tanker drags one or more "vaginas". Advantages include that the kit can readily move from aircraft to aircraft, and can refuel more than one aircraft at a time.

Because probe and drogue has to connect to the tanker's tanks by flexible hose, the transfer rate is limited. Generally limited to the U.S. Air Force, the boom method connects two aircraft by a rigid pipe, manually steered by an operator, on the tanker. That pipe can be larger and transfer far more fuel. This method was developed principally for fast refueling of large heavy bombers.

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

I am curious as to what you see as the difference between an alternate history and a fictional history. To me, they would seem to be the same thing.


I would consider "fictional history" as being a possible take on historical events taking into account knowledge as at the time of the said events with "alternate (or alternative) history" including what would have then have been thought of as sci fi elements

Replies:   Lugh  Crumbly Writer
Lugh

@sejintenej

I would consider "fictional history" as being a possible take on historical events taking into account knowledge as at the time of the said events with "alternate (or alternative) history" including what would have then have been thought of as sci fi elements


I think I agree. In the first, Oswald simply shot himself in the foot, while in the second, some Alien Space Bat or designee intercepted the bullet?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Lugh


I think I agree. In the first, Oswald simply shot himself in the foot, while in the second, some Alien Space Bat or designee intercepted the bullet?


I think I'd somewhat hold to that comparison as I consider it.

The problem with that is the confusion of "historical fiction" with "fictional history" in this case. As it seems they'd be describing two very different things.

For example one is a story about the Titanic sinking after maneuvering to avoid hitting an Iceberg, which it did anyway.

The other tells the story of what happened after the ship had been in a head on collision with the same iceberg at speed.

And then of course, the third option of time travelers/aliens or other such entities getting involved in the situation.

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

I would consider "fictional history" as being a possible take on historical events taking into account knowledge as at the time of the said events with "alternate (or alternative) history" including what would have then have been thought of as sci fi elements

In my mind, at least, "Historical Fiction" are real historic events from the point of view of fictional people, or of actualy historic figures featuring purely fictional dialogue. "Fictional history" implies that the history itself is fictional (i.e. doesn't follow actual historic events, but reinvents history (as Lugh is doing). "Alternate history" is a subset of sci-fi where someone travels from Earth to an alternate Earth that is identical but different in a very specific (and slight) manner (like have women being the aggressive sexual species). But seeing as how the latter is a minor subset of readers, many aren't as familiar with the subgenre.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Lugh
Not_a_ID
Updated:

I'd alter the definition for "alternate History" to say that sci-fi elements are used to alter the course of history.

Be it due to time travel, or Vulcans turning up to initiate first contact in San Francisco immediately after the UN Charter is signed. Or a Ferengi arms trader turning up during a World War to sell their wares to one or more parties in the war.

Replies:   Lugh
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

"Historical Fiction" are real historic events from the point of view of fictional people, or of actualy historic figures featuring purely fictional dialogue.


Generally, I believe "Historical Fiction" is viewed as any fictional story set in a real world historical setting. Often that setting includes real historically significant events, but that is not required.

Any story of daring do in the golden age of piracy, would be historical fiction, as would any realistic story set in medieval Europe.

Wheezer

I was under the assumption that Alternate History always had a "what if..." premise. What if the Nazis won WWII? What if Oswald missed, or JFK was only wounded? Time travel to change the past or travel to a parallel but different universe by the protagonists not necessarily required.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

This discussion, I think, will be very useful in the long term, perhaps creating several tags.

Another genre that takes place on SOL is the "do-over" in which there are no substantial historic changes. Oh, a character may use future knowledge to play the market and gain independent wealth, but it's mostly about gaining the lost love from high school, averting tragic death, etc.

Crumbly Writer, is this a reasonable formulation:

In historic fiction, Oswald kills JFK, but before that event, there is text that gives insight into JFK, such as his extremely active sex life. Of course, that's now coming out.

In fictional history, Oswald, without help, misses and no one even knows he fired. I'm a bit tempted to do that. What interests me is how the Kennedy Administration could have done better with Vietnam. For example, in May 1963, I have him move Defense Secretary McNamara to a new post for which he's really better suited, and have his more sensible deputy step up.

Alternate history...JFK is on Earth-2 and is Joanne Fitzgerald Kennedy?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Lugh

@Not_a_ID

Or a Ferengi arms trader turning up during a World War to sell their wares to one or more parties in the war.


I really, really, try to avoid contemporary politics. Still, I have to wonder if Trump is a traditional Ferengi name.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Not_a_ID
Dominions Son

@Lugh

I really, really, try to avoid contemporary politics. Still, I have to wonder if Trump is a traditional Ferengi name.


No, His grandfather changed their last name after his family came here. The original family name was Drumpf.

#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain

Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

misses and no one even knows he fired


Years ago I saw a documentary where they showed how one of Oswald's shots was deflected by one of those hanging over the middle of the street on wires traffic light sets, deflected, and ended up down near the tunnel. Maybe that could be used to good effect.

Crumbly Writer

@Wheezer

I was under the assumption that Alternate History always had a "what if..." premise. What if the Nazis won WWII? What if Oswald missed, or JFK was only wounded? Time travel to change the past or travel to a parallel but different universe by the protagonists not necessarily required.

That's a valid definition, but again, it's important to make it clear from the very beginning what defines your story as an "alternate ending" to established history, rather than an "alternate universe story". Since you typically don't want to write "THIS IS NOT science fiction" in the context of your story, it's best to establish the context of your story within the first chapter of the story itself. That's why I suggested starting with a significant historical event, simply to establish that it wasn't telling either historical events or an alternate universe story. Again, it's setting expectations early, so you don't unintentionally disappoint readers looking for something else.

But, having said all of that for the fifth time, I think I've beaten this dead horse enough. I trust that everyone understands my objections, even if you don't think it applies to your readers. That's fine, I just wanted to advice you how some readers may respond due to a different cultural (sci-fi) perspective.

@Lugh

In fictional history, Oswald, without help, misses and no one even knows he fired. I'm a bit tempted to do that. What interests me is how the Kennedy Administration could have done better with Vietnam.

That's fine by me. I was just warning you against TELLING your readers upfront that you were writing an "Alternative history" piece.

If you instead have Oswald shoot himself in the foot, and watches the Kennedy entourage drive past, that's largely self explanatory. Everyone understands your context. I was just cautious a few readers might expect a different outcome, and subsequently punish you for disappointing them--something you may never discover when they punish you with bad scores and reviews.

Then again, any other historic anomaly--such as Kennedy suggesting he'd like to promote McNamara to a different position "when the time is right"--will alert readers, upfront, what to expect from the story.

Replies:   Lugh  Dominions Son
Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

I was just cautious a few readers might expect a different outcome, and subsequently punish you for disappointing them--something you may never discover when they punish you with bad scores and reviews.


Look at the expectations here, in the Forum. The assassination really hadn't been very important to me in developing the story, just that Kennedy, not Johnson, was alive to deal with Vietnam. Prior to the assassination attempt, yes, I am having him make some different decisions, such as moving McNamara.

Could you elaborate on "alert readers" about McNamara? Let me elaborate what I mean. I hadn't planned on giving an alert, but simply having the President make the announcement. My characters don't know JFK's inner thoughts. Yes, some of them do interact with him, and might give him the idea. Others don't interact on a policy level, just fucking, but given that telempathy plays a role, they might suggest or reinforce ideas.

Nevertheless, my plan was for him to make the McNamara announcement on the anniversary of the Moon commitment, since that involves where he's going. I certainly could have the idea -- the alert if you will -- be broached in character or senior official discussions.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Lugh


Could you elaborate on "alert readers" about McNamara? Let me elaborate what I mean. I hadn't planned on giving an alert, but simply having the President make the announcement. My characters don't know JFK's inner thoughts.


Again, I'm not trying to dictate what you write, just suggesting you firmly establish the nature of the story early, when readers are first setting their expectations. You don't need to use McNamara, I was just suggesting another alternative, but if you did chose to go that route, you wouldn't even need to flesh it out, just establish that you're not following the established history.

"You know, I really don't like that McNamara fellow. He's too ... militaristic."

John chuckled. "Neither do I. We both have different ideas about how to conduct foreign affairs. Don't worry, though, I've got different plans for him, but the time isn't right to switch his position yet. I need him waiting in the wings for now, ready to take charge when the time comes."


Again, that's probably too specific, but it illustrates how you can merely allude to different events playing out over time, rather than focusing on the most central one in most people's memory. But establishing that this story is not purely historically accurate, without labeling the story as "alternate" anything, should steer you around any misperceptions.

Edit: Adding warnings to books is akin to TELLING the reader what the book is not about, instead of allowing the reader to discover the story for themselves. I tried that myself, despite warnings from others, and it came back to bite me, so I speak from experience. It's generally better to weave such details into the story early, rather than leaving confusions to fester over time (he says, despite leaving plenty of confusing segments in his own stories to leave surprises later on). 'D

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I think I've beaten this dead horse enough.


No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'!

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'!


The Dead Horse is not sufficiently beaten until all that is left is a fine paste.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Lugh


I really, really, try to avoid contemporary politics. Still, I have to wonder if Trump is a traditional Ferengi name.


That depends, does he think all women should be kept naked at all times?

I guess that could tested once he gets in office, if he does anything to encourage nudity on the public airwaves. Imagine the ratings the Miss America Pagent(Which Trump nominally owns) could get if the FCC would let them do a topless, or even nude/body paint, Swimsuit competition?

That Miss America is allegedly supposed to be a role model for young women and girls alike would just be icing on that cake.

Ironically, I could almost see (2nd term, lame duck) Hillary pulling comparable, only from the other (feminist/equal rights) end. "If we can see topless men in these venues, why can't women go topless in those places as well?"

Considering that the major broadcasters have been trying to get the nudity restrictions in particular lifted for over a decade now. I wouldn't be surprised to see something change on that front in the next couple decades, but probably not within 4 years. :)

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

The Dead Horse is not sufficiently beaten until all that is left is a fine paste.


Clearly not a Monty Python fan.

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

The Dead Horse is not sufficiently beaten until all that is left is a fine paste.

I've always liked 'dead horse' analogies because of the works of Fredrick Nietzsche, the German philosopher. After a successful career, he had a mental breakdown when he encountered someone beating a horse. He fell over the horse, blubbering about the in humanity, and never recovered. Turns out, he was suffering from undiagnosed syphilis, which had finally destroyed his brain. As a result, his sister took over his works, and turned them into everything he rallied against (a pro-facist (Nazi) tribute to a superior race). The sad tale incorporates everything authors fear about their own works being abused after their deaths.

Back to Top