This post is about writing. Not about Leg Iron Books, but about the act of writing. About where I get ideas and how I try to make the utterly bizarre appear plausible. It has been said that fiction has to make sense, a constraint that does not apply to reality. It’s true. Unless you are going to invoke actual magic, you need a plausible reason for things to happen in a story.
Note that while it has to be believable, it does not have to be true. Don’t take anything here as if I have personally applied scientific rigour in a long and detailed research project, I only need plausibility for stories. I don’t necessarily need facts. Although, if you can look up details and find them, that does add weight to the possibility that my scary ideas might actually be real. That’s kind of the point of writing a scary story. To scare the bejesus out of you and to set you up so that if you decide to check it out, it gets even scarier.
Ideas come from anywhere. I had the idea for a story called ‘The Hand that Feeds’ from listening to the groaning of a dishwasher. ‘Telephone Pest’ came from all those marketing calls that use autodial and if you’re late picking up, you just get silence. An awful lot of them come from dreams, especially the dreams I used to get when I was drinking really hard. ‘One Stop after Marchway’ was a very toned down version of one of those dreams.
I have now discovered the deeper recesses of YouTube, which I access through Google Chrome because there is a YouTube adblocker for that browser, and the conspiracy/alternate history videos tend to be riddled with ads.
In there are all the stories of an ancient Utopia, long forgotten by modern man, with technologies we can’t even begin to figure out now. Is any of it true? Doesn’t matter for story purposes, it only matters that it can be made plausible. Some of it would be nice if it was true, some of it leads to Hellish bouts of imagination of what could happen if it was true. Those are the ones I’m looking for.
‘Pandora’s Lost Luggage’, in Underdog Anthology 8 (Transgenre Dreams) came from one of those YouTube sessions. The story is fiction of course, but if you look up the basic, tangible facts, they are all there. I think there’s enough to put that little seed of doubt into most minds… is it fiction? That’s all I need.
Tonight I have found a real gem. There are loads of ‘stargates are real’ videos, I suspect they appeared after the SF film of that name and no, nobody has found a big ring that turns into what looks like a vertical swimming pool so you can walk through to other planets.
Incidentally, it’s all a bit old-school Star Trek, isn’t it? Every planet they visit has breathable air and the right temperature and gravity for humans to act normally. They never visit a planet with double gravity that makes even walking feel as though you’re carrying a clone of yourself on your back. Someone should write that. Maybe I will – I have done one or two SF-style stories in the past.
Back to tonight’s find. One of the big issues with all this ancient technology is… what powered it? There has never been a find of a ruined power station, certainly not bird-chopping windmills or silly solar panels. Sure, we find walls made of huge stones put together so you can’t slip a sheet of paper between them and we wonder how they a) cut them so close and b) lifted them into place. Nobody has found any ancient cranes or any kind of machinery or tools that could do it, so how was it done? Aliens? Why would aliens come all this way, build a few walls and then just bugger off? It makes no sense.
Another ‘incidentally’… I did once come across a video that suggested the ancients had a recipe for a kind of cement that, when dried, looks exactly like rock. That theory suggested the stones weren’t cut at all, they were biodegradable bags filled with the cement, stacked up and left to harden. The bags rot away, the resulting blocks fit together perfectly.
Is it true? I have no idea and there’s no evidence but then if it is true, there wouldn’t be. All they’d need are shovels to fill the bags and they could place the bags and fill them in situ. No lifting equipment beyond buckets of cement, shovels and a chain gang to pass the buckets up. Whether it’s true or not, it’s plausible. All it’s missing is the recipe for the cement.
This latest one is another ‘stargate’ one and most of it is bollocks, as usual. However, I did lift one useful bit of plausibility out of it.
The idea that these ‘stargates’ are powered by piezoelectricity. They are, indeed, all situated on areas containing a lot of quartz (incidentally number three – so am I!) and their idea is that pressure on that quartz through tectonic plate movement or gravitational interactions with other planets and more pressure idea things… could cause the quartz to generate a local electric field.
Okay. I can work with that. They have the watches the wrong way round though, quartz doesn’t power the watch or we wouldn’t need to change the batteries. The quartz is what keeps time.
But… ever used a piezo-electric lighter? The spark is generated using peizoelectricity – when you press, you compress a quartz crystal that then produces enough electricity to make a spark to light the gas. No batteries, the power is indeed coming from the quartz.
You can get a spark from a tiny quartz crystal. Imagine compressing a hundred tons of it.
If rock pressure, gravity, whatever, were to compress and relax and compress and so on… a huge quartz deposit, would that produce a detectable or maybe even substantial electric field? Well, yes, most likely, but that is not the real question.
The real question is – did ancient humans know how to make use of it? Could they harness it and direct it? Will we ever know whether they did and if they did, will we ever work out how? We can’t do it but then we can’t even build a pyramid, so who knows?
See, if that really works and can be harnessed, it’s free electricity and the ultimate in renewable energy. You don’t even have to mine it out, just stick two wires in the ground.
I’m drifting away from fiction into a wild theory of greenness. Back to the point.
In ‘Pandora’s Lost Luggage’ there was a vibration device, not revealed in the story, that had been operating with no apparent power source for thousands of years. Was the power coming from a quartz deposit?
This links to the ‘ghost’ story that isn’t a ghost. The repeat, recording-type manifestation that does not interact with the observer at all, it’s like watching a short film replay over and over. Exactly the same every time. Could that be a recording made on a quartz deposit, where the action seen took place during a time when the quartz was being pressured and open to taking a recording? When similar pressures are reapplied, maybe that’s when the recording plays back.
Yet another digression there, but the idea links to so many other ideas… and I still have the old Romulus Crowe thoughts that if you can work out how to make those recording phenomena to order you’d soon be very rich indeed.
I have added piezoelectricity to my lexicon of plausibility for the bizarre. I do not care whether the stargates are real, the idea that the ancients could harness the electric fields of quartz deposits is a plausible one whether it’s true or not.
Since I live on a fairly chunky quartz deposit and have a holy well as my water source (Thanks are due to Dr. Dan for pointing that out) I now have the bones of the next Halloween anthology story which, like last year and the year before, will be based on the weirdness of the house I live in. I love this place, but I doubt I could ever afford to buy it. Renting will have to do.
Ideas in writing come from putting together the apparently unconnected in ways that are fiction but which could be true. It does not matter whether they are true, it only matters that they will be believed.
It’s something the modern Puritans understand all too well, unfortunately.
To finish, how about we open that Pandora box?
It’s just entertainment, nothing to fear here. It’s all just fiction.