In space no one can hear you, what, scream? Okay, hands up, I was going to be a tad naughty, and add the word … but then decided to keep this post clean. Which brings me to today’s topic. Does no one ever go to the bathroom in fantasy and SF novels? I mean, come on, people. Does no one fart, or burp, eat, drink, fornicate or … okay, I’ve read a few fantasy books with most if not all of this list. But in SF, it’s like everyone exists in a vacuum—yes, I love me a good pun—that is, we read some great world building, have intense moments with characters hellbent on saving the universe, lasers fizzling through the primordial ether, as sentient spaceships battle the unseen enemy.
We read about diplomatic first contact with Foreigners. Fight off alien invasions, subvert god-like Emperors on desert planets, in far-flung futures. We hop across the galaxy through ancient alien star-gates, to myriad worlds beyond our imagination. We fight off merciless virus outbreaks, and nature gone wild, wield futuristic tech like it was always a part of our bodies but …
But when the hell does anyone stop to drink, eat, and do, you know, the other? Okay, so maybe it’s not glamourous to have someone ramping a cold bacon and egg butty into their mouths, while simultaneously pulling on their gas mask, during a viral outbreak, or alien invasion. But, in real life, these things happen.
Specifically, anyone who has ever been in the military will know what I’m talking about. During my tenure in Her Britannic Majesty’s Armed Services, we had weekly, monthly, and yearly drills. Sometime, they even felt as if they were happening daily. But these drills tested you while under simulated combat situations. It was all about seeing how you coped, and evaluating your reactions, especially to stress.
And always, as if it were written somewhere, in stone, on a tablet sent down from God. Food was always delivered the second an air raid siren sounded. Giving you 8 seconds in which to not only dress, get your gas mask on, but eat—believe me when I tell you how many times I’ve tried not to laugh inside my gas mask on seeing a superior office with egg glued on the inside of his or her mask! Oh, to have had an iPhone way back then. But I digress.
I can only bring to mind a couple of novels in which people actually stop to eat, and do ‘normal’ stuff. And while some might find it verging on the boring, for those of us who have lived this kind of life. It adds authenticity to a scene. Authors who take the time to include these kind of seemingly frivolous details, to my mind, add a little more depth in their world-building.
So here’s to that bonding scene we will never see between characters, set in the mess hall, where a fight breaks out, food is being thrown along with the punches, but the second the alarm bells start ringing, everyone heads off to do their job like the consummate professional they’re not!
Which brings me to my recommendation of the week, TERMINAL ALLIANCE, a Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse novel, by Jim C. Hines. If you’ve never read any of Jim’s blend of fantasy meets warped SF, then may I humble suggest you start with this one and laugh your …
When the Krakau came to Earth, they planned to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species.
This would have worked out better for all involved if they hadn’t arrived after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. You know—your standard apocalypse.
The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn their ships around and go home. After all, it’s hard to establish diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.
Their second impulse was to try to fix us.