Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Cost Of Magic

Magic costs the user. Every writer of speculative fiction or fantasy knows that.

Don't they?

Industrial Light and Magic (TM) has its cost. So does technology. I wonder what the long term cost of being "beamed up" was? I know that NASA astronauts suffer for their science. They may not be beamed up, but weightlessness causes their bones to lose calcium, and guess where the calcium goes?

Kidney stones! There are some doozies of kidney stones on display at the Johnson Space Center.

Which brings me to another cost of modern magical conveniences. Privacy.

George Orwell was right about Big Brother!

You can hardly make a Medicare election, reserve a plane ticket, collect your Office Max reward for recycling HP toner cartridges without having to supply your phone number, complete home address, name, date of birth and so much more! Moreover, banks, utilities, my child's school, and everyone else attempts to force me to use the internet for all my business and pleasure. I've even received reproachful letters informing me that (Fidelity "Private" Group) unsuccessfully tried to email (whatever private info I didn't want emailed to me). Instead of wasting valuable ink on the info they weren't able to email me, they direct me to go on the internet to find it and print it myself!

Yes, I may save a copse of trees, and I want to do that. But I know that spammers and hackers are reading my email and tracking my treks around the internet. I can tell (not always) by the sudden deluge of emails from names very similar to those of my friends, offering me cleverly disguised products to enlarge private parts I do not possess.

A few years ago, we were all outraged by Zabasearch, and wanted our names removed from their system. Now, dozens of pop up Big Brothers make names, addresses, phone numbers, maps to guide perverts to your basement window, and even credit reports available to every potential terrorist who wants to know.

Personally, I don't think the credit reports are accurate. I've been getting a lot of threatening telephone calls from the implausibly named "Credit Services" telling me that this is positively my final notice that I may borrow money from them. I've started to press button One, because pressing button Two to be removed from their calling list (I thought it was my final notice???) only encourages them. So, I am very nice to the telemarkers, until I get their names, phone numbers and so forth.

Then I go to the National Do Not Call Registry (now bookmarked on my toolbar) and report them.

I wonder whether the National Do Not Call Registry is as much of a misnomer and George Orwell's Ministry of Truth!

How do I relate all the above (kidney stones, telephone directory searches, phone spam etc) to futuristic, alien romance fiction?

Well, almost anyone can be virtually omniscient these days, if they know where to look. A self-styled "god" could be a high level hacker and an eavesdropper. The difficulty and the challenge (and therefore the fun) would be making him romantic and heroic, wouldn't it?

That's what I'm working on with the god-Emperor Djohn-Kronos.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

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