Okay, so I'm sitting here at the household computer because my work computer is mysteriously, badly, out of order. And I'm panicking: I have a book in the final stages of editing, a short story that needs a lot of work, a three-foot-tall manuscript that isn't reading itself, and a host of other things, most of which require that other computer and most all due about the same time. I would employ the obvious cliche about the clock ticking, except the kitchen clock has stopped. Really. I've decided it's all a colossal conspiracy, dark and ominous.
On top of it all, it's my turn to blog for the Femmes, and I had this great idea about the end of the series Battlestar Galactica, the way the creators and some of the cast went to the United Nations for a panel on how the themes of the show--war, torture, bigotry, human rights--can be used to raise the profile of serious humanitarian issues worldwide. I was excited because I've really respected the writing on BSG and the UN event brought one of my favorite themes to the fore: how writing, more specifically fiction, more specifically genre fiction, is used to make sense of, and maybe even change, the world.
It's not a new idea, but it is a powerful one. A couple of my favorite recent examples: Lee Child wrote a dandy essay touching on this notion. At Bouchercon Anchorage, SJ Rozan moderated a panel on how genre fiction works, and we discussed ideas about community-building, discussing hot topics within the safer context of a fictional world, the way that storytelling can change the language--and mindset--of a culture. We see this in the Femmes' work: All of us write about truth and right, social justices versus and legality, and how rotten things happen--and how we'll get through them. Potent stuff.
All right, Dana, you're probably saying. If fiction is so powerful, prove it. How can you use BSG to solve your present problem?
No sweat. I'm going to solve it by asking: how would the central characters of Battlestar deal with my computer malfunction?
Admiral Adama: Using a troop of armed marines, he seizes a new one from the civilian fleet, despite protests. Not an option.
Starbuck: Kicks the computer until it catches fire, gets drunk, and then has a one-night stand. Attractive, but not an option.
Lee Adama: Researches the issues surrounding the history of the computer and what its current political concerns are, and then broods before making a bold but dangerous change of allegiance. Not applicable.
Caprica Six: Redirects the computer's programming by accessing it directly through her own flesh. Not biologically possible.
Dr. Baltar: Ignores impending deadlines, wanders off to focus on an unrelated, secret pet project paid for by someone else, and then lies about the computer. Attractive, but not an option.
Perhaps I'm taking this a bit too literally. Or, I may have to look to some other brand of storytelling to get me through this temporary crisis. Any suggestions?