in a Time Warp
famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter writes about
binge watching, Big Brother, brain washing, the
cancer cull, and being stuck in a
At the outset of
2016, I would like to say something positive, something
life affirming and utterly inspirational but I am reminded of
the turn of the millennium
My wife and I were so full of
enthusiasm, as the year 2000 rang
in and we watched the fireworks being broadcast on network
television from celebrations around the globe. It was a magical
night. Like something out of the 1967
musical Hair, with
"The Age of Aquarius" by
James Rado and Gerome Ragni
playing in the background of our thoughts, we were under
the delusion that the change of the
millennia would illicit some magical change throughout
the world and Peace on Earth and good
will toward men might prevail. Our delusion was so manifest
that we actually forgot about the
doomsday clock and Y2K.
We banged our pans at midnight to ward away the evil spirits
and shouted Happy New Year.
But shortly after, the continuing
flap in the Middle East
was once again in the news, as were the mundane and perpetual
litany of accidents, natural disasters, and murders at the local,
national, and international level. And I became angry at life
and disillusioned once again. My wife attempted to pull me from
my funk. But ironically, on
the very morning that she told me to be positive about life and
get back to my writing, I turned on the television and every
station was carrying the same story. It was, of course,
September 11, 2001.
Since that time, with a
fire burning in my belly from
911, I have written three
books. But alas, with
every good thing there is bad, as life
whacks you upside the head. A delayed diagnosis of
diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, a
staph aureus infection and a big toe amputation,
squamous cell cancer on my right cheek, and its return
a year later in my right parotid gland,
the surgery, the radiation, a suppressed immune system, and a
year of antibiotics and minor surgery to treat a seemingly perpetual
ulcer on the ball of my right foot have all been a distraction
and set back my writing by several years.
C'est la vie.
It seems that my entire life
has always been behind schedule. Like the
March Hare in the 1865 novel
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, otherwise known as
Lewis Carrol, I am always falling behind. And I often
stop to ask myself why I bother to try. But of late, there seems
to be an explanation and it doesn't just concern me. It influences
us all. Or perhaps I have just become your
average, run of the mill crazy touting yet another
conspiracy theory. You decide.
I have had altogether too much
time on my hands during the past year with my foot up, on doctor's
orders, in an attempt to get it to heal.
Right. Sure. You bet. And back for more surgery, and
back, and back. Oh, come on.
And the only times I have gone outside my abode have been for
medical reasons. During the time in my
easy chair, I read God
and the Atom by Victor
J. Stenger, The Elegant Universe by
Brian Greene, and Time
Reborn by Lee Smolin.
As you can tell, I'm also behind in my reading. But I
have otherwise succumbed to binge-watching
altogether too many series on the
idiot's lantern. I have become an immense fan of
Ion Television and their lineup
of police dramas.
In fact, I have witnessed so many doors being kicked in by the
FBI special agents in
Criminal Minds that I am convinced of two things:
none of us is secure in our own homes, and every other person
out there is a psycho killer.
There used to be a joke told by Dale
Woodyard in Abnormal Psychology
and it goes like this: One in three people is a
psycho. So, look to your left and to your right. Ask
yourself whether the people next to you look crazy. And if they
both appear normal, then it's you.
So, here are
three observations and an even crazier hypothesis. So
many syndicated TV shows are
continually being shown, ad nauseam,
on television that I have developed
déjà vu and perhaps a little
PTSD. Everything repeats. Don't worry about missing it.
It will be back. God knows,
I have watched Gene Roddenberry's
original Star Trek
series over and over again for more than
fifty years. But enough is enough.
Star Trek is now dated and its simple plot lines
and production values are wanting.
I binged on
J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon Five. I
binged on Brad Wright
and Jonathan Glassner's Stargate
SG-1 series based on the
1994 movie created by Dean
Devlin and Roland Emmerich.
TV binging is altogether
addictive and that's the point ...
just one more ... just one more.
In fact, when you think about
it, everything repeats. History repeats itself. Fashions come
back in style, as do hairdos and facial hair. I'll know my time
on Earth is done when
bell-bottomed jeans, long hair, sideburns, and
disco returns. Please everyone, burn your copies of
Saturday Night Fever now. Don't encourage a revival.
How much John Revolta can the
human race take? And no, that wasn't a typo.
My instinct is to turn off the
TV because when I'm watching,
I'm not creating. I'm not writing. But it calls to me. And sadly,
when I watch, I snack. Did I mention that
binge TV watching, with all of the advertisements for
food, are brain washing you
to eat, eat, eat and to gain weight, weight, weight, and to become
sick, sick, sick. Can you say diabetes
yep, ah ha? And then they hit us with ads for
Cialis and for Viagra,
since food, sexual craving,
and the violence of the intense dramas stimulates the same area
of the brain. It all makes someone else a lot of money. How do
you feel about being used to make other people money?
Say moo, Betsy. And I'm sure that
big food, big pharma, and
Big Brother couldn't be happier. We'll get to that later.
by Iris Benedikt
Spectatorial - April 28,
2001: A Space Odyssey came out in
1968, in the so-called real
world, my friends and I imagined a future where mankind
would soon expand into the solar system and then, as imagined
by Isaac Asimov in his
Foundation series, into the
Milky Way Galaxy. We had great hopes for
NASA but government run space endeavors have been a disappointment
on several levels. We used to have the
space shuttle. But we currently have no elegant next
generation launch system. We have a
ramshackle international space station, not the elegant
station imagined by Stanley Kubrick
and Arthur C. Clarke
in 2001. We have no
base on the moon. And we could not build a large scale spaceship
like Discovery to head toward
Jupiter if our lives depended
on it. Moreover, NASA is going
backwards not forwards. They have abandoned the concept of
spaceships and have devolved
to capsules, which
they tout as new and advanced.
Excuse me? Are we back in the nineteen
sixties? I am old enough to remember
Mercury and Apollo. Orion
is just a bigger capsule with better computers and other
electronics but a capsule
it is. It isn't exactly the next big thing and will never be
no matter how many times you say it.
It just seems to me that we never
get ahead. We're just spinning our
wheels. Our cities block out the
starlight because Big Brother
doesn't want us looking at the night sky. We might start
to think about things; whereas, Big
Brother wants us to think about what he tells us to think
about. Big Brother wants to be in
control. Freedom my ass ... so we
I used to pose this question
to my wife: Considering that the human population is expanding
to a point where, if it was a bacterial
culture in a petri dish,
it would die off because it would be swimming in its own feculence,
what is the G-20 doing to
control the world population? What form would the
great human cull take? I imagined years ago that we would
nuke ourselves. And it's a
very daunting and real possibility still. But it breaks too much
the planet more than it already is after some
two thousand nuke tests and
nuclear power plant disasters, and would illicit a
nuclear winter just when the possibility of a
Northwest passage in a melting
arctic seems a viable possibility. We used to fight regular
wars to weed the population
when enough young men reached eighteen.
This population control measure
killed millions in
the names of freedom and
patriotism. For years I thought perhaps the
powers that be would unleash a
pandemic developed in the
USAMRIID labs. But pandemics
have a way of biting you on
the ass, although I have never underestimated the stupidity
of military intelligence.
And then, I read that fifty per cent
of the population in developed countries is getting
cancer. Those are the statistics.
Yikes. So, to my mind, there you have it.
Cancer is the cull. Heaven
help us all.
I commented years ago, that the
powers that be must have finally
read Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George Orwell because their
methodology seemed to have been taken right out of the pages
of that dystopian novel, but
done badly. There are cameras everywhere.
Big Brother is indeed watching you. And he is also observing
your e-mails, what you search for on the internet, and who you
call. Moreover, he is listening for
key words. The propaganda
that the Americans
used to accuse the Soviets
of has become the standard soup
de jour and comes in three
flavors: natural disaster, sex, and violence.
Oppression through fear
in the name of terrorism prevails.
And instead of simply stating when shortages of chicken, beef,
and pork occur, we are instead plied with
fear mongering stories of
animal epidemics. Give me a break.
To reiterate, the
space program is bupkis, devolving,
and going nowhere. We are encouraged to
binge-watch golden oldies and
eat ourselves into obesity. Every
second person is getting cancer.
Big Brother is watching us all and monitoring our e-mails,
internet usage and phone calls. We are encouraged to
binge watch TV police dramas. We are mind
controlled to crave pizza
and Viagra. And overall,
we just can't get ahead. And here is the point where I suggest
my crazy explanation: we are all caught in the
gravitational well of the
black hole located in the center of the
Milky Way galaxy. We are all stuck in a
time warp, a Mobius Loop
that will continue until we slide over the
event horizon and disintegrate
to sub-atomic particles
under the extreme tidal pressures.
And we cannot escape.
Physicists have even suggested that our
reality is actually a hologram.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Modern Physics theory, string
theory, M theory, and what
have you sounds stranger than fiction and is, no doubt,
changing our reality by existing.
Yes, Virginia, that's how weird things are becoming.
Can you say quantum entanglement
and spooky action at a distance?
Suddenly Kurt Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians
in his 1969 Science Fiction
don't seem so strange anymore. So, you just might as
well throw another shrimp on the barbie,
mate, have another brewski,
and accept your fate. Reality, as we know it, is all
going to Hell in a handcart
and is pulling us along with it on
the tormented downhill ride into a gravity well. Hasta la vista,
New Year 2016, if that's really what it is.