Archive for the ‘Space Lizards Of Canada’ Category

Why Write About Space Lizards?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Let me first be clear about my ambiguous term ‘space lizards’. This appellation is intended to reference a range of phenomena, generally of disputed reality, found in science fiction, fantasy fiction, conspiracy theory, and UFOlogy.

Space lizards, space reptiles, reptilian humanoids or reptoids, space dinosaurs: all these are included in my menagerie. I admit that biologists and purists might argue that a lizard is a specific type of reptile. This distinction, however, is unimportant for my purposes and I will therefore cling to the shorter, snappier ‘lizard’ label. (Additional admission: ‘snappy’ might be more a personality than a species descriptor.)

A sympathetic view of space lizards (space dinosaurs in this case) is found in Robert J. Sawyer’s masterful Quintaglio Ascension trilogy of novels, proving that one cannot judge an entity by its species. (Note to self: devise pun about specious prejudice).

Most views of space lizards are far less sympathetic. The conspiracy theory regarding subterranean reptilian humanoids seeking to control human affairs first emerged in a Los Angeles newspaper article in 1934. It was not until much later, in the 1990s, that David Icke’s vision of mysterious reptoid overlords infiltrating and controlling humanity permeated our popular culture.

In 1954, movie-goers were treated to the amphibious biped of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”. In that same year, they were also introduced to the giant lizard Godzilla. More modern incarnations include the Visitors of the television series “V” in both its 1980s and more recent version.

The lizard, despite its terrestrial origin, seems alien. It invokes shudders and powers phobias. These creatures are cold-blooded and devour live prey. They are the ready-made monsters every harried ‘creature feature’ writer adores.

Both the psychopath and the reptilian personality mesmerize us – they are indecipherable and contain nothing we recognize as human. They effortlessly represent evil and are the prototypical alien spawned in the imaginations of writers occupying the borderland between science fiction and horror.

Why is this so? Consider the triune brain theory to understand why reptiles appear as evil incarnate to us humans. This theory suggests the human brain can be understood as three separate systems that evolved successively: the oldest being the reptilian complex which maps roughly to the brain stem; the middle being the limbic system which exists in all mammals; and the newest being the neocortex, which includes the frontal lobe, a uniquely human endowment.

Emotion arises from the workings of the amygdalae, a pair of structures classified within the limbic system and not present in the reptilian brain. Altruism (even in its self-interested rational form) requires a neocortex. Love and mercy, therefore, do not exist among lizards.

This incapacity for emotion renders reptiles alien to our perspective and allows us to conflate their type of cognition with psychopathy. It is oft stated that the eyes of psychopaths are reptilian, that is, devoid of any spark of emotion or compassion. This provides a tie-in with the second theme of Fresh Blue Ink’s planned short fiction anthology Space Lizards Of Canada.

Additionally, space lizards provide allegorical access to and linkage between military-industrial complex and alien occupation conspiracy theories.

So, c’mon. Writing about space lizards is fun!

(See the Fresh Blue Ink SUBMISSIONS page for more details.)

Why Write About Psychopaths?

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

 Why write about psychopaths?

Certainly they are horrible people not worth our time or effort. The same could be said for murderers, yet the strong popularity of murder mysteries remains evident in recent best-seller lists.

We, as humans, are fascinated by “Evil”, especially the unadulterated and guilt-free evil to which psychopaths are prone. And is there another word that better describes the sometimes petty, sometimes grandiose self-serving acts of personal destruction that psychopaths wreak?

Almost everyone has fantasized about doing something terminally unpleasant to their boss or mother-in-law but how many would be able to live with themselves afterwards? The psychopath worries only about being caught and what impact this might have on their own life. They do not consider collateral damage to society, to those ostensibly close to them, or to their own innermost soul (which might be entirely absent).

Psychopaths or sociopaths (we use these labels interchangeably) are individuals who are profoundly incapable of empathy. They represent a small but impactful minority in any society, causing a level of damage far greater than their small numbers might suggest. The PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist, Revised, as developed by Robert D.Hare) is the gold standard for assessment of this syndrome. The modal psychopath is a superficially charming, grandiose, pathological liar who will manipulate everyone around them to obtain their goals, which are power, sex, status, and a life materially good yet not requiring consistent effort, focus, or work.

Some have said that certain psychopathic characteristics might be beneficial to various leadership roles or occupations. Consider the extreme ruthlessness and risk-taking required of the modern CEO. Here charm alternating with cold calculus produces a willingness to throw partners over the gunwale whenever advantageous. Consider the military sniper. Who better to ‘kill and forget’ than a psychopath? The average person would likely succuumb to PTSD and implode after even a short such career.

Psychopaths, like any group, are characterized by wide variation. Just as the personalities, goals, and capabilities of computer programmers differ, so too for psychopaths. While some use their charm and cunning to achieve status and power, others, likely with a more limited arsenal of charm and cunning, use their powers simply to maintain a parasitic lifestyle either as a kept spouse, low level fraudster, itinerant scam artist, or malingerer.

Bad behaviour makes for good stories. Who writes exclusively about good people working towards socially worthwhile ends by co-operating fruitfully with other good people? More importantly, who would read such tedium? Stories demand conflict: good versus evil. In many cases that evil can be supplied by psychopaths.

Psychopaths make perfect super-villians. They provide obstacles for our heroes. They are unpredictable. They lurk undetected before they unleash their chaos. They say charming things then perform unspeakable acts. The subterfuge and sabotage they deploy can be subtle or dramatic. They impede us by exercising whatever power, no matter how limited, they possess. They are serial killers and pet assassins. They spit in our soup. They refuse to validate our parking. They cause no end of confusion and pain.

Statistically speaking, you will be in the line of fire for several of these dangerous misanthropes during your lifetime. So to return to the original question: why write about psychopaths? Because knowledge is our first line of defense. Forewarned is forearmed.

You who are in the know, share your insight. We need to know.

If you have a short story related to this or one of the other themes stated at, consider sending it to us!

New short story project – new writers welcome!

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

Fresh Blue Ink has just released details for a new book-length collection of short stories to be published in paperback and e-book formats.  See this link for details.