Precognition of Reality Show
First published: July, 2001. Posted Online: May 01, 2006.
There are things we’re reluctant to write about. Oh, fictional things, mostly. If something in reality needs to be said, we’ll say it. But we hesitate, all the time, to invent scenarios that detail catastrophic consequences which might actually happen. Because the stuff we write about as fiction almost always comes true.
We can hear you saying it from here. “That’s stupid.”
Okay, fine. A handful of privately-noticed coincidences does not a Cassandra make. Even if we are somehow seeing the future, it doesn’t mean that our writing it “makes” it happen. It just warps the creative process is all: If you write something down, it’s supposed to happen to your characters, not to your friends, family, nation or mankind.
By and large, we either get over our paranoid trepidation and forge ahead (with some tweaks,) or we find something else to write about. A good solution is to write about a pre-existing crisis like violence in schools. Roleplayers have had to wrestle with the ignorant on that issue since ever. We even wrote this accompanying essay pastiche for this episode as a Radio Free Wyhtl.
In the summer of 2001, Chris had an overseas girlfriend! Liz Holliday, the British SF author and editor, to be precise, and she was coming over for the Millennium Philcon, the 59th Worldcon in Philadelphia. Liz used to edit one of Dave Ryan’s magazines, Odyssey, and while their working relationship no longer survived, Liz did get us the contacts to get into Valkyrie in the first place. We wrote this episode knowing that making fun of the Harry Potter franchise while beating up on reality shows (the great anathema to creators of fiction then and now) would be a big hit with the Worldcon attendees, and that at least a few copies would be available to pass around.
The con was fabulous, and full of joy and energy. There were conferences and parties, time travel games, Double Exposure-run con suites, comics, and love.
That’s what September, 2001 was supposed to be about.
Panels 7 and 8 have ever seemed like our curse coming in at last. Buildings on fire, passionate cries for death in the air. The best among us, sitting and staring helplessly at the screen with glassy eyes.