Sunday, June 12, 2011

The "Superhighway"

Americans and their illegal immigrants may well not be the world's worst drivers... but they are bad, and getting worse.

The same applies to the superhighway of the internet, if some of the supremely ignorant and selfish comments by law-breakers and renegades can be believed.

I wonder whether there is a connection?
Jacqueline Lichtenberg starts her world-building with the sun... "a sun", I should say. That's a very good place to start. However, one might start with roads and highways if one wishes to examine a society's descent into lawlessness and anarchy.

I'm reminded of the Max Max movies!

Next time you go driving, or are driven, take a look around you. See a car moving dangerously slowly? Chances are, the driver is texting. See a car weaving within the lane, or drifting out of the lane? The driver is driving with her thighs, while smoking/using the cell phone/eating/drinking. It is simply horrendous what people do, because they can and because they assume that they will never get caught.

In my opinion, which I concede may be wrong, the root of the problem (not everyone would think of it as a problem) is No-Fault Insurance, and a Highway Code riddled with loopholes. "Stop at a red light.... unless you think it is safe to turn right, or left, or across or into oncoming traffic." And then, there are the facilitators of law-breaking, who sell radar detectors, so a speed-limit-defying driver can know where the speed traps are, and special coatings to cover your license plate, so the police cannot identify the law-breakers. Google is probably one of many superhighway equivalents. In fact, every OSP and ISP that helps people remain anonymous on the internet is an enabler. One could stretch the similes almost to infinity.

So... if you are still with me... in your alien romance world, are there rules of the road or jet lanes or airways? How are they enforced? Who enforces them? Are there the alien, interstellar equivalents of transponders? Are their "weigh stations" as well as "way stations"? Are there toll booths? There could be. Perhaps there ought to be a toll booth and Customs at the entrance to every wormhole and event horizon and star gate. Would that slow the action? Or would one end up with interstellar Dukes Of Hazzard?

Linnea Sinclair's worlds are very well planned particularly in this respect. Remember the mollytrock scene?
Inevitably, I think, most sfr stories are most likely to deal with the regulations of ports and harbours, landings dockings and departures, quarantines and escapes.

In my Alien Djinn worlds, the Imperial Family owns the airspace. If you own the air, and are unscrupulous, there is no end to what you can do. (I'm tempted to offend grammarians and write "what you can conveniently do," so I will!)

For instance, why drop bombs? It would be so much simpler to do a Midwich Cuckoo job, gas everyone (with a humane and harmless gas), and then send in the boots to arrest the senseless undesirables. Or, do a Day Of The Triffids fireworks show and temporarily blind everyone (I know, the blinding was permanent in DOTT.)

In Knight's Fork, I had a lot of fun with air traffic control. I spent a couple of hours talking to pilots about jet streams and how transponders worked, and what air traffic controllers can do to control air traffic, and about the almost Regency Romance levels of barbs within excruciatingly polite, recorded verbal transmissions.

Basically, what happens in a world where their choices are rather binary: they can talk you down, or send someone to shoot you down? No midway twixt these extremes.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, I fantasize about what would happen if I were to use my horn (there don't seem to be too many observed rules about the use of the horn in America... one uses a double parp to satisfy oneself that one has, indeed, succeeded in locking the car doors, also one honks to inform persons within the house that one is waiting) to disrupt illegal use of a handheld cellphone that is apparently distracting a driver.

Sigh. Two wrongs don't make a right.

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