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  • John Dodd

A Question of Geekery...


Watching the season finale, and indeed the series finale, of The Expanse earlier today, and as I’m watching, a list of the pilots names for the attack ships that were going off to fight was displayed briefly upon the screen.


Hicks, D, was the one that caught my eye.


Stop right there, rewind, freeze frame, enhance.


Entirely appropriate to do so, next name, Deckard, R.


And so I went across the pilots, didn’t recognise some of them, but from Neary to Thrace, Deckard to Ackbar, I’m pretty sure every one of them was a leading role in a film or series at another time, and it got me thinking.


Is this not the golden age for those of us who’ve always loved stories in all their forms. That was a throwaway shot, blink and you would have missed it, but most people, when they watch something, they watch something. I wasn’t the only one who caught that, several friends have commented, and every one of them was every bit as delighted by it as I was. No matter that several of those pilots never made it to the final battle, what mattered is that they were in it in the first place, and don’t think we didn’t notice that the ones who were visible going down, also went down in the film that they were in.


It’s things like this that make all the difference when it comes to understanding geek as a culture, I don’t know of a single person who identifies as a geek who has only one film or one series that they enjoy. Sure, they’ll have a favourite, but chances are they’ll know dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of them, and even if they didn’t like them all that much, they’ll know about them.


If you believe many books on writing, there are only seven plots to be had, and everything is just a variant on those stories. I’d go one step further and say that there is only one good story.


Something changes.


Doesn’t matter how it happens, doesn’t matter if there’s a monster, a question, or a voyage. Doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy, a tragedy, or a farce.


None of that matters, what matters is that at the end of the story, something changed.


Take any of the greatest stories in history, at their heart is that something started out the way it was, and that by the end of it, something had changed. It could be the hero, it could be the villain, something could have been won, something could have been lost, none of that matters.


All that matters is that the world as it was when the story began, isn’t the same world when the story finishes. If it was, then what’s the point of the story?


There are stories where nothing changes, loads of them, but then you have to ask the question, what was the point of it? Why the battle, why the struggle, why the quest, why anything, if nothing changes…?


This is the question every day, what do we do that brings our story along? What changes do we make, what difference do we strive for? If you do the same thing every day, you may reach the end of your life wondering what the point was? If you never did the things you wanted to do, never went beyond the places you could see, and never hoped for something better than what you had, how could you expect anything other than the ending that those actions deserved?


This year so far has been a new lease on life, and I’m calling it a new lease, because I don’t want to buy it, I want to enjoy every second of what I’m paying for now, and then look at it again in a few years and make sure that it’s still what I want to be doing. I imagine it will be, but at least the question will be asked, because the last two years have been confined in, having to do the same things because there was no alternative.


I can think of no worse fate than that.


As I was finishing writing this, I found out that David Farland died yesterday, I only met him virtually when he appeared on the Essence of Wonder show that I help with, but he was very much a person who helped others to get their ideas together and show them what worked within the story and what had been done a hundred times before, he wrote his own narrative and lived by it. The world of writing is poorer for his absence.


What we do in life, echoes in eternity, beautiful line, and something to remember when you’re writing stories.


Particularly your own.


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