Archive for May, 2010

Looks like I’m on a roll. “The Worm of the Waste” was just accepted by Blood Bound Books for the Unspeakable: A New Breed of Terror anthology. Doesn’t pay much, but it will be in print. There last anthology can be found on Amazon. I’m not sure exactly when Unspeakable is coming out, but I will insert updates.

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Upon getting home from work today I recieved a wonderful email. My short story, “Pilgrimage” has been accepted by Necrotic Tissue Magazine for their October issue. My first semi-pro sale, also will be my first print publication.

Pilgrimage had 18 rejections before now. I want to remind all my fellow writers that rejections are NOT an indication of some objective level of quality of your work.  No matter how many a story gets…or how many you think it might get…keep it out there. Submit, submit, submit.

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I haven’t been updating like a should in the past weeks.  Or doing a lot of things like I should in the past weeks. I blame it on the heat and the pollen.

Anyway, a bit ago my other half and I watched a new (to us) anime series called Death Note. Its basic premise got me to thinking about power, and that old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely. I’ve never entirely agreed with that adage, probably in part because as a lifelong fan of speculative fiction in all forms, I’ve seen plenty of characters with vast power that are NOT corrupted by it.  Death Note caused me to consciously think about this and come to some conclusions about power and corruption that like most things are not absolute for all cases, but are interesting to think about.

In the series, a “genius” Japanese high school student randomly finds a notebook on which are written, among other things, these words: “The human whose name is written in this note shall die.” After some experimentation he discovers its true. He can end the physical life of anyone whose name and face he knows, anonymously, from anywhere.  A great power, which does eventually corrupt him.

On the other hand, though, there are those with as great or greater power, who are not corrupted by it. Why is that? Well I think it depends. I think in the end it comes down to the person and their choices. Someone who isn’t going to be corrupted…who isn’t going to choose to do evil, harmful things, isn’t going to, regardless. The character in Death Note, Light Yagami, was I think a prime candidate in many ways. He was bored with his life, and already believed, I think that he was somewhat “above” others due to his supposed “intelligence.” But there’s another set of factors that I think are especially interested for we creators of speculative stories to examine.

This particular character has great power fall into his lap. He doesn’t have to work for it. He doesn’t have to sacrifice anything to gain or use it. He just happens upon the notebook and its use costs him nothing.  Contrast this with, say, many of the powerful wizard characters one finds in fantasy. Even if there is a natural, in-born element most such characters have to spend years in arduous study to truly bring out and master their power, and its use generally requires some effort and/or has costs, whether it be fatigue and exhaustion, material components and various risks.  They may eventually gain the same ability, to take someones life distantly and anonymously but they have to earn it. Also, many times great power in stories whether magical, technological or whatever is rooted in knowledge and understanding of the world. With this often comes wisdom, a shield against corruption.

Obviously this isn’t universal. Plenty of characters…and real people…work for power that then corrupts them. However it occurs to me even now that many such characters are the ones to whom everything comes easily. This I think tends to cause them to think less of their power, but simultaneously more of themselves for mastering it so easily.

These things are all obvious once you think about them, but they are things I had rarely thought of in a direct, conscious manner previously. I still don’t believe absolute/great power in and of itself is automatically corrupting…corruption in the end is still a choice, though it may involve choices that are not obvious. But if you drop unearned immense power into the lap of someone with even slight leanings in that direction, the results are likely to be bad.

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