Walking Along

Lately there are videos going around the social media that show people of different ethnic or gender backgrounds learning to get along through doing something together or just looking at each other. Those are great exercises, and akin to what writers have been doing for millennia: allowing people to see things from a different angle and so create tolerance and prevent dogma.

Of course, some people prefer to stick with what they know; they feel safer in their own environment. Writing stories of good and evil, of romance and of adventure allow a writer to plunge right into the story, because there are plenty of readers ready to swim along; they don’t know the exact story, but they know what they can expect. Many readers prefer that; they do not want to be confronted with different; they read to escape complex social issues and just want to be entertained.

But when a writer wants to introduce a new point of view or get readers to acknowledge that there is more than one way to look at things, they cannot simply jump in and hope the reader follows. Coming back to the example of homosexuals before, who, as little as fifty years ago, were not seen as human; many people were afraid of them, afraid it was a mental illness or contagious, and the topic was not mentioned. By allowing readers to step into the mind of gay characters in books, writers allowed them to begin to understand that homosexuals were people just like them.

In short, fiction books allow readers to see the world through different eyes; to step into the mind of somebody with a different outlook on life and in this manner overcome a fear of differences and help create tolerance.

Thus, when writing a fiction book, I am taking the writer on a journey to a different point of view. I could fly them to the destination, but they won’t appreciate the road. They would be startled or scared off if my conclusion, my idea, is too radical; they will dismiss it.

Instead, I invite the reader to walk with me through the minds of multiple point of view characters, so that different readers may find somebody they understand and somebody they do not, just like in real life. I invite the reader to consider the thoughts and beliefs of many different people by looking through the eyes of these characters; to consider as many as possible sides of the situation. Some of those characters might slowly change their mind about the same things I ask the reader to reconsider. If a character in a book has trouble with a new idea or another person, it might help the reader feel they are not alone and maybe, at the end, they’ll appreciate the outcome.

But walking, step by step, to a different point of view takes time, which is why some of my stories are quite long. My young adult novels, each allow the reader a peek into the perspective of the odd one out; the child who does not fit in and who tends to be berated for that in our society, or, in the case of In the Real World, two perspectives.  My adult novels allow for many different viewpoints.

The most dramatic example is Of a Note in a Cosmic Song. Not only does it have eight point of view characters of diverse cultural, social and religious backgrounds, different ages and genders and different experiences, but through them the reader gets confronted with many more different personalities and opinions. Each of them has a realistic point of view when seen through their eyes, but that is not always realistic in the eyes of others, which is why they get into conflict, so that every reader will be able to find a character with a personality like their own, who they will be able to relate to, but also some characters they cannot understand. In addition, these characters are on a journey together, having left behind their home to start a colony on a new planet; they are looking to restart justice and democracy and a better society… and each believes that their own viewpoint of ‘better’ is the best for everybody.

I ask for tolerance of the reader to, at the end of the story, accept a ‘different’ that may be more shocking than the murder, rape, evil minds, mass shootings, gangs, drugs, deceptions, greed and other horrors to which, sadly, most westerners have become desensitized.

Dear reader, I do hope you’ll be willing to walk with me, and find that, no matter how alien an idea, it may just bring us to a more positive future.

Thank you for reading.

 

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Rethinking International Media, Trade and Social Platforms

Millions of people use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media providers.

The film industry is still strongly dependent on Hollywood.

International authors depend on Smashwords and Create Space.

Most IT technology still operates from Silicon Valley.

In other words, the headquarters of most of our international information exchange is based in the USA.

But it is likely that information exchange from the USA will be censored more and more, that many opinions and expressions of free speech will become punishable, that books and films that criticize will be forbidden, that foreign entities will not be allowed to access these platforms.

Smart CEOs will diversify and move their headquarters elsewhere before it is too late, but not all of them have the financial means to do so and many may simply disappear.

It is up to the rest of the world to do something. It is not enough to use these channels to criticize Trump; we need to set up alternative international networks for social media and information exchange to support the existing ones and allow their vision to continue elsewhere.

IT geeks, moderators and organizers are needed as are companies who will take this on. Those of us who are the writers, filmmakers and users and have no technological skills need to support them. International libraries must start looking for their eBook listings in other places as well. Governments must support such exchange by making it as easy as possible for international opinions to be printed, screened and exchanged.

Just as with every other product that was conceived in one country and is now reproduced all over, so these media channels need to be based around the world, so that the voice of the people will not be silenced everywhere.

Freedom of speech depends on it.

 

 

 

 

Social Science Fiction

This weekend is the Armageddon convention in Wellington. I have managed to get a stall with two other Indie Writers and look forward to sharing my books and my interest in science fiction with so many other people.

So this post is here to help explain a little about my story.

Of a Note in a Cosmic Song is social science fiction – its main focus is on the topics of the social sciences, although it does feature some technology, ecology, geology and biology.

The story follows a group of 8000 colonists as they decide to leave their home planet (DJar) to embark on a four year journey on a most luxurious space ship (SJilai) to the nearest inhabitable planet (Kun DJar) to start a new life.

They are prepared for everything; they have relearned old trades, brought equipment to restart technology, supplies to restart growing and raising food (seeds, bee larvae and fish eggs) and their entire knowledge library on disk, ready to be transferred to paper in case the technology is slow to start. They know as much as they can know about their new home and it looks lush and stable. They are convinced that they have reached a level of technology to make this colony work and they have thought of everything…

Except that colonization IS about people.

That is the premise of the books, sparked by the notion that today’s scientists so easily refer to our technology to promise a better future without considering the human factor. If you load 8000 people on a space ship, they cannot all agree about the way the new society should function or how it should be ruled. And those who do not get a say will try and make their opinion heard another way. Or they get angry… and angry people can destroy technology and food supplies. Add some convicts the old planet wanted to get rid of, and you add more problems. And what if the winters are extremely long, the planet not as colony friendly as they’d hoped and nothing there is predictable by the scientific knowledge of the home planet… what if the native life forms have a mind of their own?

All those issues play throughout the books and in following eight point of view characters and getting to know many more of them, the reader is sure to feel close to some and unable to understand others.

And isn’t that what life is about? About getting along despite being different? About being people? Our western world has forgotten about the human factor in their drive for science and knowledge, technology and facts, just as many science fiction fans have forgotten that there is more to science than ideology, fancy technology and empirical data; that the danger to colonization does not come from aliens and cannot be solved by battle or quests, but from the colony itself.

Any colonization attempt should take the human factor under consideration. Those that do not are sure to fail.

 

Treyak - art.jpg

For more detail see www.nonentiti.com

 

 

Lohland by Nonen Titi

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Source: Lohland by Nonen Titi

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Source: Soup and Bread by Nonen Titi

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For 16 year olds, Jerome and Mariette, wars were events of history and faraway countries, until during an Anzac Day family reunion their boys-against-girls prank ‘war’ gets totally out …

Source: In the Real World by Nonen Titi

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Source: The Music of Life (series) by Nonen Titi

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