Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Depiction Part 21 - Depicting Alien History

Depiction Part 21
Depicting Alien History
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous entries in the Depiction Series can be found listed here:

The best way to depict Alien (non-human) anything is to use a pattern that has appeared in human history -- and preferably reappeared cyclically.

Long, broad, historical trends are very hard to see by studying history.

It is hard to trace the connections among events occurring centuries apart in different parts of the world, and different parts of culture.

Here is an example from the History of Government that is easy to use, easy for your reader to comprehend, and potentially easy to write.

There is a theory (lauded in science fiction circles) that all species of non-human peoples will have forms of government derived from their sexuality.

So study Earth's biology, and pattern your Aliens on one of our species reproductive proclivities.  Then figure what sort of governments (through the arc of thousands of years of history) that your Aliens have invented and used -- and to what effect.

Use a pattern you can find in human history (and pre-history) based on human biology.

Well, you probably don't want to muddy your picture with all of human biology, so focus on one aspect.

In Part 19 of this series on Depicting ...

...we discussed testosterone and its role in the insane, incessant, furious, and unreasonable addiction to Winning.  The surge of testosterone caused by defeating and humiliating a foe is actually addictive -- addictive in the sense that with each successive win, it takes a bigger win next time to get the same euphoric effect.

Testosterone is a drug that produces a high that is absolutely addictive.

It has an obverse.  Losing a battle produces a lack of testosterone and consequent listless misery, knuckling under, surrender, and lack of desire to fight.

Being married with children tames human males, lowering and evening out the testosterone spikes (or so current research indicates -- maybe that's not true, but for the purposes of fictional worldbuilding, it is a good model).

Apparently, according to a set of studies (that I find poorly designed and not aimed at the real problem),
just "having sex" doesn't affect a human's determination to win, though these 4 studies (all on men) don't measure addiction to the "high" of being a winner. They were after athletic performance, (speed, strength, endurance) not the addiction effect of winning which all the participants would have in full force.

Remember, we are looking to design an Alien that your human readers can comprehend without effort.

When looking for a model, a pattern, to use for your fictional aliens, you don't need to find the real scientific truth of a matter, but rather what the major portion of your target audience believes is the truth of the matter.  Your objective is to sell them entertainment, not teach them science.

In the process of luring your readers into your fictional universe, you may awaken a thirst for actual science education.

That is what Robert A. Heinlein did so very well, and many other writers followed suit.  But one generation's scientific truth is the next generation's superstitious nonsense, so just start with what your readers think is true, and extrapolate something unthinkable from that.  It is the mental process of extrapolation that is entertaining -- not the content of the facts.

Sketch Of Human History

So looking at human history as various forms of government conducting wars, winning and losing, and the subsequent behaviors of the winning and losing cultures, make yourself a chart or graph that depicts the swing from absolute Totalitarianism to Anarchy and back again.

Go back to, say, the world depicted in Clan of the Cave Bear

 -- alone and having to make everything you need to survive all by yourself from scratch, the concept "wealth" takes on a primal meaning.

We discussed what an Alien Romance Novel Writer can learn from Clan of the Cave Bear in Part 17 of this series on Depiction.


Work up the "Tribal Structure" ladder, just as you see today in "failed states" where "militia" take over.  Look at how Libya has fallen apart.


For our fictional purposes, Wikipedia is a superior source because it represents what most of your readers think is true. You can "set the record straight" in your novel, but you must start with what they think is true to suspend disbelief.

There was a dictatorship, strong-man style (kill the opposition and plow the bodies under in unmarked graves), and now there are militias, and a rising power of better organized but very vicious jihadists forcing their standards on other people at penalty of death.

Same sort of thing happened decades ago in the Balkans.  It happens exactly like that wherever you have a "failed state."  Humans organize behind a strong protector who will fight other humans and bring home food.

So go back to Biblical Times, and Egypt and Babylon -- there arose governments based on the divine right of Kings.  Pharoah was considered a living god.

So operational government "authority" was legitimized by a supernatural mantle.

Through the Middle Ages The Church essentially Ruled, with the first born sons inheriting land and station, and the extra and spare sons going into the Church where the real wealth and power resided.

Kings fought and grabbed Rule.  All the places that have left us records had governments run by a King or Emperor (Queen etc).  The secret to longevity as a Country was centralization of power.

By divine right, Kings owned all the land, and basically owned the very people -- sometimes people owned other people (slaves).  There was a hierarchy that governed, and the only way to change anything was to overthrow the ones in Power.

The Kings who were better at winning wars got control of larger territories, and usually the bigger ones survived and prospered better.  Think of the Roman Empire. Of course it fell apart eventually.

The same kind of agglutination went on in China -- today's China is an amalgam of many old Empires which were composed of an amalgam of Kingdoms.

An Emperor is a King of Kings -- who graciously lets the Kings he conquers stay in power and run their little Kingdoms and pay taxes to the Empire.

In the enormous Roman Empire, we saw the application of the ideas we first found among the Ancient Greeks (which may have arisen previously, but we don't have a record of that) -- the very word Democracy is Hellenistic.

So comes democracy, and the half-assed overthrow of Kings creating the Constitutional Monarchy model -- then the USA and France shook off even that semblance of Monarch and handed the reins of government to ordinary citizens.

Then came decades of fighting over "who" has the "right" to vote. (well, we're still fighting over that).

Meanwhile, the Natural Aristocrats among humans, being mortally offended by the Rule of the RiffRaff, have systematically and patiently (and oh, so aristocratically refined and politely) worked to re-structure the Republic/Democracy model back into Rule From The Throne By Your Betters.

So in the 20th Century we saw the rise of Socialism, Communism, Stalin-ism, Progressivism and other isms all focused on the arduous task of centralizing control of every facet of life.  Kings of old had the power of life and death, directly, by the fact of holding the throne.  Today's Kings hold the power of life and death by controlling the resources the peasants need to keep breathing, electricity, air conditioning, refrigeration, medical care, medicine (controlling what you may or may not have access to according to whether they deem it effective), transportation, import/export permissions, regulations on water, on building reservoirs, on transporting crude oil, on banking, on social networking, and no doubt soon (as Robert A. Heinlein predicted) a tax on breathable air.

All of these regulations come from the Executive Branch, and all the local Laws must conform to Law created at one central building in Washington D.C. or in New York at the U.N.  -- gathered and centralized decision making is efficient, but requires a "one size fits all" solution to every problem.

With all the decision making centralized, decision makers are then in a position to sell (for campaign contributions or other convoluted methods of payment) exceptions to the various rules, regulations and laws.  Exemptions have become the new coin of the realm, just as the Kings of old handed out Favors, and the Popes handed out Indulgences.  So a handful of people who know best get to pick the winners. (keep your eye on the testosterone addiction effect.)

End Sketch of Human History

This is just a thumbnail sketch of human historical epochs.  For your purposes, you may take the same historical (and pre-historical) records of Earth and arrange them into a different narrative.

Your Alien History will have that same shape, but entirely different content.  It may also have a different "period" -- a different length of the sine wave of the back and forth between individual independence and self-sufficiency and absolute monarchy.

Now remember all the philosophical works you've read on War and Human Nature -- how we are just Great Apes and our international wars are just like tribes of Apes fighting.  How humans establish a pecking order just like most animals that live in groups.  This model of human history assumes we are just animals, no Soul or God involved, and any god references are just superstitious balderdash.

Ask yourself is War a product of human sexuality?  Is war the inevitable outcome of testosterone addiction?

Do your aliens have a sexual hormone that they become addicted to, and how does that hormone come to flood their systems?

How do your aliens behave under the influence of that hormone?  How does that hormone driven behavior contribute to their individual and species survival?

Then derive a kind of governmental structure that mirrors human structures (pecking order to warfare included), but is rooted in their addiction to their hormone.

Here, again from Wikipedia, is a list of the areas of life that Government must centralize to regain Kingship and absolute sovereignty over the RiffRaff, so nobody can survive without permission.  It is quite a comprehensive list, and if you cover all these areas within the narrative of your story, you will generate impenetrable expository lumps.  Determine how your aliens handle all these areas, but Depict in Show Don't Tell only the ones thematically germane to your specific story.

------quote from Wikipedia-----

Free Enterprise into 'X'[edit]
On pages 95 and 96 of The Road We Are Traveling, under the heading of "Free Enterprise into 'X'",[12] Chase listed 18 characteristics of political economy that he had observed among[13] Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain between 1913[14] and 1942. Chase labeled this phenomenon "... something called 'X'".[12] Characteristics include the following:

A strong, centralized government.
An executive arm growing at the expense of the legislative and judicial arms.
The control of banking, credit and security exchanges by the government.
The underwriting of employment by the government, either through armaments or public works.
The underwriting of social security by the government – old-age pensions, mothers' pensions, unemployment insurance, and the like.
The underwriting of food, housing, and medical care, by the government.
The use of deficit spending to finance these underwritings.
The abandonment of gold in favor of managed currencies.
The control of foreign trade by the government.
The control of natural resources.
The control of energy sources.
The control of transportation.
The control of agricultural production.
The control of labor organizations.
The enlistment of young men and women in youth corps devoted to health, discipline,community service and ideologies consistent with those of the authorities.
Heavy taxation, with special emphasis on the estates and incomes of the rich.
Control of industry without ownership.
State control of communications and propaganda.

-------------end quote from Wikipedia--------------

Stuart Chase, the fellow who compiled that comprehensive list of areas of human endeavor, is the originator of the concept called, in American Politics, The New Deal, and was Advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the 1960s, Chase lent his support to the Johnson administration's Great Society policies.

Some of the centralized government functions on that list will translate easily to your Aliens -- natural resources, energy sources, agriculture (provided they eat plants or animals), maybe trade and transportation.

Robert A. Heinlein's (1907-1988 -- contemporary of Stuart Chase) teleporting "doors" would serve to undermine centralized government functions as traumatically as the internet has been undermining the governments so stable during the 20th century.  You know how ISIS (among others) has been using the Internet to convince young, testosterone driven, males that black is white and up is down, murder is holy.  So transportation and communication have both been used.  What other government function might a human-generated technological innovation undermine among your Aliens?

What historical figure among your Aliens contributed such foundational philosophical works on the form and function of government?  Give that Alien a name and a nickname, and title some works of his/hers/its that you can quote.  What technology do your Alien rebels discover, invent, or buy from humans, that lets them overthrow that centralized control?

Never tell your readers about that secret hormone -- show them the results, and the consequences when human testosterone clashes with alien hormones.

The only thing I can see that your readers would find relevant, but is not on Stuart Chase's list, is centralized government control of reproduction -- and that, too, has been done in science fiction.  Still, with today's advances in gene editing, there is much more story potential.

What if your Alien Rebels found a well preserved corpse of their species as it used to be before a centralized government forcibly mandated alteration of their genome?  What would happen, for example, to humanity if we altered the gene(s) responsible for testosterone addiction?  Suppose the alteration didn't work quite as expected, and three or four generations later we have humans who are ultra-sensitive and even more prone to testosterone addiction (which addiction causes the win at all costs, and win and win again and again syndrome).

All our most popular movies, one action scene after another mass destruction scene, all superhero win-win-win oh-do-it-again-because-it-feels-so-good formula movies sell all over the world.  You don't need to do a good translation of the sparse dialogue because the story isn't about what the characters say or think, but just about destroying and winning.

What do your aliens do instead?  What are their most popular films about - historically and "now" as well as the way "now" distorts their history via film and other arts?

Depict their culture with quotes of their famous philosophers and one-liners from their most well known movies.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Do You Know What You Give Away Online...?

You may give away more rights --more copyrights-- than you suspect when you upload something lovely to a social media site.

In Part 2 of an examination of copyright and social media,  Shannon McCue of Baker & Hostetler LLP  explains that under the TOS, when you (the user) post a picture or a video or an original quote, many social media sites take from you the perpetual right to create derivative works from your "stuff" and even to sell the right to create and monetize derivative works to third parties.

So, seemingly, the Social Media site could sell someone else the right to take your cat photo and create your-cat T shirts or coffee mugs, and sell them, and pay nothing to you.

Interestingly, the law is not so clearly against you, the copyright owner, if someone snags your photographic portrait from Instagram (or wherever), crops it and slaps on some captions, and tries to sell that for his own profit.

The Art Law firm, Boodle Hatfield explains here:

Or here:

Shannon McCue's Part 1 for those who want to read it before Part 2 is here: 

Bartier Perry (in 2013) wrote on a similar theme in "We Promise We Probably Won't Use it...." .) (it was a much longer title, the ellipses are mine).

Are you outraged about the stories that some social media sites are censoring comments by users? 

What you may not know is that the Safe Harbor protections for website owners and social media sites are changing, and they might be held liable for "distributing" defamatory comments left by anonymous users. 

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP explain the ongoing Gawker case.

Remember, if you own a website, you must register your copyright agent with the Copyright Office by December 2017.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers!

This weekend, as usual, I'll be attending ChessieCon (formerly Darkover):


The guest of honor will be Sarah Pinsker, Sturgeon Award winner and Nebula finalist. Musical special guest is S. J. Tucker, who performs in a bluesy-folky style. Although the former headline group, Clam Chowder, has disbanded, they'll have an informal session in the atrium again this year. I'll be on a couple of panels and will post a report next week. Fortunately, the weather in our area looks good for driving this weekend.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Depiction Part 20 Depicting Recent Wealth by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Part 20
Depicting Recent Wealth
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts in the Depiction series are indexed here:
Social Class is much in the news these days.  Older works such as MY FAIR LADY don't qualify these days as a model for how people from different backgrounds move up or down in the world, because many of the features of "class" that mark humans apart have changed.

In fact, a writer of Alien Romance should examine the entire notion of "up" and "down" as a model for social structure.

One thing that distresses so many governments around the world about the Internet and all the social media is that this world wide conversation loosens the government grip on what the people think -- because the internet changes what people know (or believe to be true.)

Thought control is essential to some kinds of government.

So one objective of those who want or need "control" over others is to freeze individuals in a social stratum, maybe make that stratum large enough that individuals can feel they are rising in the world without leaving their stratum.

Non-humans might function in an entirely different way -- thus leading our Human governments to mis-interpret actions or under-estimate Alien individuals.

But you are writing for a human readership, so you need to depict the alien behaviors in a way that allows your reader to connect with your aliens.  Or alternatively, you may want your readers to feelno connection at all to your Aliens (so you can have a nice war).

Spock was the "Alien" Character that Gene Roddenberry invented to look at humans from the outside and comment on these odd human foibles.  His original idea was to have a female First Officer who was emotionless and a half-Vulcan Science Officer who was ultra-smart.  The network would not allow a female First Officer because women can't order men around - it is not plausible that men would obey (right?). So Gene Roddenberry saved the Spock Character by making him the First Officer.

You, as a writer of Alien Romance, have to learn to think that way -- it is not a compromise, but a matter of artistic integrity.

The trick in luring an audience into a built world is to change only ONE thing and make the rest of that world pretty much like the reader's reality.

In the Potterverse, we have our reality -- and a place away somewhere that Magic is taught.  A few Magic Users are sprinkled among the Muggles - but this is the Muggle's world, your reader's everyday reality.

So, how do you depict Recently Acquired Wealth -- a character who has suddenly moved from an impoverished apartment in subsidized housing to a Quarter Acre 5 bedroom house with a pool in the cool, tree filled suburbs?

What is the one visible thing that character would do, would consider imperative, urgent, top priority, after making such a move?

There is now a scientific answer to that question which reinforces the ideas you get from My Fair Lady.  In the play or movie, the initiative for changing dress, walk, speech, of the woman comes from a man.  It is something he does TO her.

In our modern reality, it is something she does to herself.

Here is an article scientifically studying shoe purchases.



“When women move from lower-income area to a higher-income area, they pretty much took on the preferences of women around them,” said Galak. “On the other hand, when they moved from a wealthier area to a less wealthy area, what we found is that women pretty much stuck with their preferences.”

In other words, when a woman moved to a higher-status area, she was more likely to try to adopt the fashion and practices of people there, as the chart below shows. When a woman moved to a lower-status area, she was more likely to retain her old behavior, perhaps as an effort to be unique.

----------end quote--------

Conformity matters to humans (and not just women).  Imagine a world in which government is used as a weapon to prevent individuals from changing their economic stratum.  Anyone who does move (up or down the economic ladder) must change costume and behavior, speech mannerisms, etc., to avoid notice by the thought-police.  In fact, your Character's very thoughts may trap him/her in a way that your Alien character would not recognize or abide.

Here are some of those thoughts that a newly rich person would have to learn:

Now, if you create some very Alien aliens -- truly non-human, maybe more so than Spock, you can SHOW DON'T TELL your reader that these non-humans are potentially good friends by how the non-humans prioritize dress, demeanor, thinking processes, and appearance to "fit in."

This was done exceptionally well on the TV Series ALIEN NATION.


Complete Series Collection

The Aliens were easily understood and accepted because they went to the effort to fit in.  Those Aliens who did not, who rebelled, because the focus of various episode plots.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, November 20, 2016

USPTO: Develpoing the Digital Marketplace for Copyrighted Works

Quoting: "The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) is pleased to announce a Public Meeting on Developing the Digital Marketplace for Copyrighted Works to be held on Dec. 9, 2016 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters in Alexandria, VA. Additional “watch parties” will be arranged at USPTO regional offices in Denver, Dallas, and Silicon Valley.  The meeting will be webcast.                                                                                                                              "The purpose of the meeting is to facilitate constructive, cross-industry dialogue among stakeholders about ways to promote a more robust and collaborative digital marketplace for copyrighted works. Specifically, the meeting will focus on initiatives in this space that relate to standards development, interoperability across digital registries, and cross-industry collaboration, for the purpose of understanding the current state of affairs, identifying challenges, and discussing paths forward.  Additionally, participants will explore potential approaches to the future adoption and integration into the online marketplace of relevant emerging technologies (e.g., blockchain technology and open source platforms). The goal of the meeting is to provide a platform for discussion and to determine how government can be of assistance. One outcome could be the establishment of working groups to tackle specific issues through a multi-stakeholder process.We will have panel sessions in the morning, an exhibition hall to showcase initiatives during lunchtime, and breakout sessions and a plenary discussion in the afternoon. Members of the public will have opportunities to participate. Additional information: To register to attend, or view the agenda and webcast information, please visit: https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/public-meeting-developing-digital-marketplace-copyrighted-works-dec.For additional information or questions, please contact Susan Allen, Attorney-Adviser, USPTO's Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA), at susan.allen@uspto.gov, with “IPTF Dec. 9 Mtg.” in the subject line.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vampire Disjunction

I've kept up with the TV series THE VAMPIRE DIARIES despite the heroine's disappearance from the show. (The character was magically consigned to suspended animation.) At present Damon, one of the co-starring vampire brothers, has "switched off his humanity," not for the first time. Under compulsion from this season's villain, an ancient, powerful Siren, he's had to perform terrible acts. To escape the guilt and pain, he "flipped" his "humanity switch" so that he feels no emotions and therefore can't suffer. Apparently all vampires have this capability, since others in the series have done the same thing. With their humanity voluntarily turned off—apparently requiring only a simple act of will—they have intellect, sensation, and appetite but no feelings, positive or negative. They simply don't care. While suppressing one's humanity is easy, reawakening it requires an agonizing intervention by some other person, especially since no vampire who has undergone this change wants it reversed.

The dichotomy between vampires with and without souls on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER functions similarly. According to that show's mythos, the creation of a vampire displaces the victim's soul, leaving the body possessed by a demon. As Buffy tells a character in an early episode, "That's not your friend, it's the thing that killed him." This "demon-animated corpse" thesis becomes problematic with the introduction of Spike, whose personality and behavior seem to have definite continuity with his human life, and he's certainly capable of loving in his own way. Nevertheless, it's established that "normal" vampires don't have souls. Angel appears to be unique in that respect until Spike also becomes re-souled late in the series. As far as we can tell, "soul" seems equivalent to "conscience." Unlike in THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, where suppression of humanity turns off emotions, soulless vampires in the BUFFY universe have a wide range of emotions, often violently passionate even if usually negative.

Both of these plot devices remind me of the junct-disjunct contrast in the Sime-Gen series. A vampire deprived of soul or humanity (which seem to entail much the same thing, allowing for differences between the series' vampire mythos) is analogous to a junct Sime. In these vampire universes, regaining a soul or embracing one's remaining traces of humanity resembles disjunction. Remaining or becoming junct represents the easy way, while disjuncting is usually terribly difficult and painful, just as accepting the return of soul or humanity can subject a vampire to great suffering. One big difference is that junct Simes are still human, and many of them want to disjunct. No vampire who has turned off his or her humanity wants it switched on, and BUFFY vampires hardly ever wish for souls. (Angel finds his a source of torment, since its return awakens his conscience and therefore makes him suffer guilt for the evil he has done.) Spike, the notable exception, seeks the restoration of his soul out of devotion to Buffy. In MAHOGANY TRINROSE, it's discovered that a drug made from the trinrose can ease the disjunction process, so that one of the characters fears Simes might begin to think going junct is no big deal, because "I can always disjunct again." Similarly, Damon on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES has had his humanity switched on and off a couple of times, and Angel regained his soul, lost it, and got it back again. In both cases, we have to wonder how much guilt the re-souled or humanity-embracing vampire should legitimately bear for acts he performed when devoid of soul or humanity. At those times, was he "not himself"?

Neither of these programs explicitly defines what humanity or a soul actually is. In the BUFFY universe, a soul is referred to as almost a thing, a concrete entity that can be removed and replaced like a physical object. When a vampire lacks a soul, has that part of him or her been sent to the "Heaven" where Buffy thought she was between her death and her restoration to life? Does the vampire's disembodied soul have any trace of consciousness, wherever it is? We're never told. In THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, "humanity" seems to be more a state of being than an entity. The "flipping a switch" imagery likens it to an electric current. While it would be more satisfying if these series defined their terms with some precision, at least they do foreground existential and ontological questions in interesting ways.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Depiction Part 19 - Depicting The Married Hunk With Children

Part 19
Depicting The Married Hunk With Children
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts in the Depiction Series are indexed here:

Knowing what your readership sees and understands from Headlines is vitally important to evoking a visual response without actually describing with irrelevant detail.

For example, a paragraph telling the reader the color hair and eyes, height, weight, choice in clothes, educational background - etc of the Character does nothing to draw a reader into the story.  Such detail, all lumped together into one paragraph leaves the reader confused, perhaps bored.  There is no reason a reader should memorize all those details about this character -- then wade through memorizing more such details about another character.

Reciting statistics about a character is not describing and it is not portraying.

Instead, to depict a character, the writer must evoke a likeness from something the reader feels is familiar -- then inject a single, stark but very memorable detail that is incongruous.  Two details, half a sentence at most, depict the character.

So let's Depict the Married Hunk -- who has a wife and children.

When we say "Hunk" we generally mean a very masculine, very attractive, perhaps buffed up -- young, strong, healthy, very probably with an attitude, very likely the attitude needs some work, most likely by a woman worth her salt.

Usually, the term Hunk does not apply to a happily married man raising a bunch of girls to be women.  Hunks are pre-domestication, usually.

But this is 2016 -- almost 2017 -- and many revolutionary changes are in store as a new generation steps up into adulthood.

"Adulting" has become a term because our society has kept the newest generation from growing up -- lots of forces from all directions configure young lives into lives of dependency -- and the expectation that parents will come to the rescue.  We have boomerang children -- off to college, back home to wait to find a job.

Once employed (or married off to someone who is employed) that generation encounters all the complications of performing Adult tasks -- banking, saving, stretching a dollar, dropping today's plans to go solve another person's problems, finding an apartment, making mistakes and having to live with the results.

In the pioneering days of the 1700's and 1800's in the USA, 14 year old boys were pretty much considered adults - carrying guns, hunting, fishing, building and repairing shelter, knowing nobody was going to come to their aid if they screwed up.

Today, we have men in their thirties who haven't gone through that Finger In The Dike, I'm The Only One Who Can Do This, realization stage.

That transition to self-reliance is the primary psychological dynamic in Science Fiction Adventure -- the genre is about the transition in self-image from child to adulthood.

Science Fiction blends well with Romance because the core essence of that transition, the real meaning of Adulting, is the establishment of a life-long, permanent, full of obligations, you can't get out of it, it is up to you, RELATIONSHIP.

Today's world does not regard Marriage as a "you can't get out of it" (thus adult) obligation.  Marriage is now conditional, and either party can just bail and forget it, go on to another spouse.

So if a Character fails to domesticate the Hunk she married, she walks.

But what about the children?

Don't forget the 1800's were famous for the Shotgun Wedding (still a favorite type of Romance Novel - often with reasons other than pregnancy).

So a Hunk, as long as he's still attractive, can always walk out of a marriage.

This creates wonderful conflict for Romance novels.

What is the higher calling -- what is the stronger moral position - which character's thinking depicts them as admirable, someone to emulate?

Is ti staying married to raise the children no matter how incompatible the couple has become?

Is marriage about Romance?  Does Romance -- falling in love, being deliriously happy, believing the world will cradle you in luxury all your life without effort -- have anything to do with Love?

Does Romance = Love?

Is Romance a necessary pre-condition to Love?

Does "I Love You" mean something different during Romance than during Life?

What does Adulting mean with respect to Relationships?

Do you choose a man because of his good looks, strength, prowess?

Does a woman even need a man?

These issues are the core themes of Romance, and to work them into Science Fiction, you need to study how your modern reader is seeing the world.

Here is an article published in July 2016 that describes a study on Testosterone correlated financial risk taking.

The truth behind testosterone: why men risk it all

Testosterone is what we blame for irrational aggression, for two men fighting just to show off in front of a woman they both want -- or sometimes just to win.

This article is about the addiction to WINNING -- in this case, winning at stock trading, but the statistical correlation reveals how judgement is warped by winning or by losing.

The testosterone study also reveals why the defeated, if repeatedly defeated, knuckles under and does not even try to compete again.

In other words, the fight to win establishes the pecking order among humans, just as in a wolf pack -- which could be why werewolf romance is so popular.

The science of wolf behavior applied to humans makes werewolf romance into Science Fiction Romance.

------------quote from THE TRUTH BEHIND TESTOSTERONE----------
The results were published in a 2008 report in the

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Coates found that, on days when traders made an above-average profit, their testosterone levels went up.

Most surprisingly, the testosterone levels in the morning predicted how much money the traders would make that day: high levels forecast high earnings. At the same time, the traders' cortisol was unaffected by how much money they lost. Rather, cortisol levels were sensitive to the volatility in the market, which is a measure of risk and uncertainty. "Cortisol is likely, therefore, to rise in a market crash and, by increasing risk aversion, to exaggerate the market's downward movement," the report states. "Testosterone, on the other hand, is likely to rise in a bubble and, by increasing risk-taking, to exaggerate the market's upward movement. These steroid feedback loops may help to explain why people caught up in bubbles and crashes often find it difficult to make rational choices."

Coates first learned of steroid feedback loops during his regular visits to Rockefeller University. The testosterone feedback loop is known as the winner effect. The winner effect had been observed in nature for many different species, from cichlid fish to rhesus monkeys, and its physiology is well understood. When two animals square off in anticipation of a fight, they experience a rise in testosterone levels. This self-doping mechanism prepares the animal for competition, increasing the blood's capacity to carry oxygen, quickening the speed of reactions, and, via its effect on the brain, increasing fearlessness and appetite for risk.

In the aftermath, winners can emerge with a tenfold increase in the amount of testosterone circulating in their bodies, whereas losers' testosterone levels can be suppressed by the same order of magnitude.

...This doping effect can sometimes last for months. Nature primes winners to keep winning and losers to keep losing.

----------end quote-----------

This finding could explain why the business world is configured like a football game.

So where do women fit in the business world?

Here is another quote from that article on Testosterone.

Women produce, on average, about ten per cent of the amount of testosterone that men generate. According to Coates, they may therefore be less prone to excessive risks driven by the winner effect; their stress response may also be less sensitive to risk-taking failures.

During the dotcom boom, it always surprised Coates that the women traders seemed to be relatively immune to the euphoria that engulfed most male traders at the time.

Women seemed to know that a storm was coming. When it comes to the financial markets, Coates says, men are more hormonal than women. Male physiology makes men more attuned to high-frequency risk-taking. "Our latest studies suggest that women are not more risk averse than men," says Coates. "They merely prefer to have more time and information before they take risks."

This doesn't imply smaller profits – quite the opposite, in fact.

Studies of gender differences in investment behaviour consistently show that, in the long term, female investors consistently outperform their male counterparts. This is not, Coates stresses, an endorsement of one sex over another. "It's not that one group is better than the other," says Coates. "They're different. It's just that by diversifying the biology of the trading floor you would counterbalance the extreme tendencies."

---------end quote---------

Women have some testosterone - but not so much as to impair judgement.  And women have a different way of assessing risk.

I saw another study, which I can't locate right now, which indicated that a man's testosterone levels go DOWN after being married, and DOWN again once children come into the picture.

In other words, being married, literally tames the wild animal in the man.

This could be one reason the "arranged marriage" social norm dominated for so many centuries -- and the reason it persists today in some religious communities that prize the level headed, measured, approach to risk taking.  Untamed men would risk offending God without a second thought -- according to that study on testosterone and the stock market.

Consider that Hunk who is the flashpoint of most Romance novels -- a woman spots a man in a crowd, and just knows that gorgeous hunk has to be hers.

What is it that makes a man a Hunk?

Mostly testosterone -- it builds muscle, is responsible for "secondary sexual characteristics" such as hair, and in a winner testosterone causes the man to move with confidence, to exude power and pride.

A female response to the hunt for a mate is to look for a male who will protect and raise her children  -- to bring home the bacon as it were.  A female response is to be attracted to a winner, thus a male with high testosterone levels.

But the objective of marriage is to tame that beast, to lower his testosterone levels.

Your readers live in a social order that is in transition.  Thus Romance novels have long been exploring how women find such testosterone driven men irresistible, and Lust must inevitably lead to sex -- there is just no way to resist that force.

In the 1950's, after women had gone to work during WWII and gotten a taste of independence, of adulting, there was a social argument about women continuing to work -- which culminated 20 years later in the feminist movement, and equal pay for equal work.

Your current readership, for the most part, is made up of people born in the 1990's and raised by two working parents, with a good percentage raised by single parents.

In the 1950's there was a lingering stigma on children of a divorced couple, even after remarriage.  It was hushed.  Not spoken of.  Playmates of such deprived children were not told of the parental history.

The 1960's are famous for changing that attitude.

Check this out by reading some ebooks written during these different epochs -- the contemporary settings depict their era accurately, and the historical Romance written during say the 1960's distort history in a different way that novels written today.

The same effect is visible in Science Fiction.  Read Robert A Heinlein of the 1940's and 1950's if you can get through the sexism, and you will learn something major about how to craft a novel for your current audience.

So we come to a study of modern readerships and how to target that readership.

Here is an item that appeared also in July 2016, written by Jill Filipovic is a journalist and lawyer who is working on a book about female pleasure and politics in America.


This article is about Donald Trump and came out during the Republican Convention.

Read that article on Testosterone and Winning -- and you'll understand Trump's "win-win-win we don't win anymore" chant.  He's been a winner and the article explains why men like that get addicted to winning rather than settling issues in a more sensible way that doesn't create losers.

The point of winning is to create losers, to alter the body chemistry and brain chemistry of other people.

So we have a generation (younger than Trump) who aren't as enamored by the necessity to create losers in order to "live happily ever after."  While at the same time, that younger generation regards marriage as temporary, a situation that can be shirked off despite children, rather than as a sacred responsibility you can never get out of in this life.  (think Historical Romance, Victorian era was when you saw this attitude begin to change under the surface, but not in public.)

Today's generation of young men (many of whom have not gone through the shock of Adulting), are just as testosterone addicted as the elder generations, and young women see just as many Hunks among them.

Marriages do happen -- perhaps regarded as permanent, regardless of difficulties, --- and young men do get tamed and have children who tame them even more.

So we are raising a new generation of young women torn in two apparently mutually exclusive directions -- these are your primary readership -- women whose fathers demand they found successful (winning) careers, and whose husbands expect (but likely won't say out loud because men don't talk about emotion) a stay-at-home-mom for their kids.

Here's a quote from the NY Times article:

This female empowerment narrative — of the daughter, not the wife — is one Americans are more ready to accept. A man who says he’s never changed a diaper and is on his third marriage to a former model may appeal to a resentful male minority, but will look unfamiliar and unappealing in much of the country. A successful child, though — that’s relatable and desirable. When men have daughters, their attitudes shift and they begin to adhere less stringently to traditional gender roles; no similar effect happens to mothers of girls. Fathers of daughters are also more likely to support reproductive rights than men who don’t have girls.

Men have often given their female offspring more opportunities than their female partners, perhaps seeing their children as extensions of themselves. Even today, many men find themselves newly appalled at sexism after having a girl, a reaction apparently not stoked by being born of a woman, married to a woman or simply seeing women as human. In our reluctantly feminist America, one question this election poses is whether we’ve evolved enough to value women as individuals instead of assessing them relationally, as an attractive wife supporting her husband or as a high-achieving daughter reflecting a flattering light back on her parents.
---------end quote----------

Remember that Conflict is the essence of story, and both the Internal Conflict and the External Conflict are derived from the Theme.

What you think and/or feel about a topic has a Theme at the core of it.

What do you have to say about the mutually exclusive demands placed on today's young women?  Are they really mutually exclusive? Do women have to limit themselves to careers that either pay enough to hire child-care (CEO level pay), or not have children, or have stay-at-home-husbands, or adopt a profession that can be done at home with kids pulling on your elbows.

When pondering the career options of the college age woman who is your Main Character, consider she's been reading articles such as the following:


And sometimes some women just don't recover at all because of un-diagnosed injuries incurred during birthing -- broken pubic or pelvis bone, torn pelvic floor muscles, the list is long and mostly neglected by OB's.


This kind of thing is going through her mind as her friends tuck her into her Bridal Gown for that long walk down the aisle.

This is your readership's view of the world.  Use that knowledge to convince them that there is a solution -- there does exist an attainable Happily Ever After, but it is not guaranteed.  There is risk involved.

We'll discuss risk assessment in more depth as we go on.  "Risk" is the foundation of the element in a novel called 'THE STAKES' -- the stakes are what the main character stands to lose if things don't work as intended.  But 'THE STAKES' are also what that character has to gain if things do go as intended.

Risk/Reward calculations are, in the male of our species, testosterone driven.

So are Romance Novels - right?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Website Owners And Blog Owners -- Protect Yourself

I've only seen this on legal blogs...  Effective December 1st 2016, if you want Safe Harbor protection for your website or blog or app, you need to register your copyright agent information with the Copyright Office.

Otherwise, you don't get Safe Harbor protection if someone posts a hyperlink on your site or blog that links to infringing material.

Read more on this legal blog

Many thanks to Coe W. Ramsey of the lawfirm Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP
for his article on Lexology.

According to Mr. Ramsey, the copyright office has reduced the fee for registering an copyright agent to $6.00 but when this author looked at the LOC.GOV site it is still showing the old price (which is much more expensive).

Mark Whittow and Trevor M, Gates  of K&L Gates LLP share their perspective on the new rule, and
have more links and tables.

David J Wittenstein of Cooley LLP offers his own clear guidance on the new rules :

Some of us blogging authors may not feel that we are "service providers", but there are blogs that appear to infringe on authors' copyrights and/or link to online file storage sites where infringing copies of ebooks are illegally made available for downloading. We've all seen them. This new rule appears to make it very clear that hyperlinking is infringement.

By the way, dear visitors, you may not hyperlink to other authors' ebooks, but you might need safe harbor protection if visitors or guests (or you yourself) snag and use photographs lifted from social media sites that someone else posted without the copyright owners' permissions.


If you are an author and wish to check that your copyrights are registered, go here:

You can enter either your books by title, or enter your own name for instance (Cherry Rowena) or even search by keyword.

All the best,

Copyright agent for this alien romances blog:

Rowena Cherry

PO Box 7301
2211 South Telegraph
Bloomfield Hills
MI 48302

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cory Doctorow on Despotic Dominion

Cory Doctorow's latest LOCUS column delves into some oddities of copyright, intellectual property, and the DMCA (which he calls "a giant, gnarly hairball of a law"), beginning with a quotation from William Blackstone (the great 18th-century legal authority) on private property as "sole and despotic dominion" over the entity of which ownership is claimed:

Sole and Despotic Dominion

The essay first discusses the history of "intellectual property," a relatively recent term. He cites the notice that used to appear in paperbacks, warning the reader that the book couldn't be copied, lent, resold, etc., under penalty of law—in short, strictly speaking the buyer couldn't even give away the book. Doctorow calls BS on this warning. However, he applies the same judgment to the similar warning in current books, "No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical..." without the publisher's permission—which seems more problematic.

He remarks, "If copyright law were a system of magic in a fantasy novel, we'd never buy it." In his opinion, it's riddled with "exceptions and carve-outs that ignore its alleged underlying rationale and just fiddle things around for the sake of narrative convenience." Most of the article deals with the application of the DMCA to software, with wide-ranging effects many consumers never think about. The mind boggles to contemplate the number and variety of common devices that contain electronic software—and therefore fall under protection of the DMCA. Nowadays our homes are full of gadgets that have copyrighted software inside them. As with all those computer programs whose conditions of use most customers never read, under this system we don't really own many of the objects we buy, in the sense that what we can do with them is legally limited. Doctorow labels this system "feudalism."

Doctorow's essays on copyright always leave me ambivalent. As an author, of course I want strong copyright protection. As a reader, researcher, and occasional anthologist (decades ago), however, I don't want copyright to last forever. The main effect of an absurdly extended copyright period on older obscure authors is to guarantee that they remain obscure; an editor who might want to reprint a story by such an author, resurrecting the work from the grave as it were, could find it prohibitively hard to discover who holds the rights. And as a fan I get irked with Disney (for example) for locking away films they keep unavailable to potential viewers and researchers but don't make any profit from themselves, e.g. the very early cartoon shorts (which would be out of copyright by now if they were books) or SONG OF THE SOUTH (permanently taken off the market because its depiction of race relations has been Overtaken by Events). Regarding music: I've heard that authors can get in trouble if they reproduce so much as half a line from a copyright-protected song in a work of fiction without paying for permission to quote. Where's the logic in that restriction? Either the song is well known or not. If so, a brief snippet from it does the creator no harm, and you're quoting something your audience is probably familiar with anyway. If not, the quotation does the creator a favor, in effect, by drawing attention to an otherwise neglected musical work.

Even in a capitalist society, no ownership right is absolute. (You can't burn down your own house with impunity or build an addition onto it without a permit.) But where should lines be drawn?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Finding Piracy

Today, this author would like to share a few tips for authors concerned about ebook piracy:

1) Set up Google Alerts for your name, each of your titles, and some unique and distinctive phrases from your books.

For instance, I have Alerts set up for "By all the lechers of antiquity", which is an expletive used frequently by one of my horny and irascible heroes. Believe it or not, I have had Alerts.  The reason to search for a distinctive phrase is that a plagiarist might take your book and change the title, the author name, and the names of all the characters.

2) Set up a beta testing account with Blasty.co   It is in Beta, so the accounts are free. The Blasty people work closely with Google and are refining their system and are again looking for more authors to participate and provide occasional feedback.

This is a code given to me to encourage author acquaintances to sign up.  As far as I know, there are no benefits or incentives for me if you use it, and no strings for you.


3) Consider a paid account with Muso.com if you can afford $37 per month and have a lot of problems with cyberlockers.

With the boot on the other leg, be careful not to infringe other creators' copyrights. Check out this article from the law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP on precautions to take before assuming that you are free to use or redistribute lovely photographs you see online.

Published authors with 38 Euros to spare might like to join SOFIA, a French organization which provides royalties from French libraries to American authors under Public Lending Right laws.

Find out more:


All the best,

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Incarnations of Lucifer

Coincidentally (if there ARE coincidences in this life, especially in the realm of popular entertainment—maybe there's a trend here), two current TV series feature Lucifer in person: The long-running SUPERNATURAL, in which two brothers hunt monsters, fight demons, and save the world multiple times; the newer program LUCIFER, in which the Devil goes AWOL from Hell, runs a Los Angeles night club, and works as a civilian consultant for a female homicide detective. Aside from the teeth-grinding implausibilities of the show's versions of police procedure and the work of a therapist (Lucifer's psychologist), I'm enjoying the latter program very much for its characters. The flippant, hedonistic Lucifer has a core of deep-rooted morality, skewed though it may be. This Devil doesn't tempt people to sin. As the (unwilling) ruler of Hell, he punishes evil. When he encounters a Satanist cult in one episode, he rejects them with contempt. His main superpower in human form is to compel people to express their deepest desires. Lucifer in the SUPERNATURAL universe, on the other hand, is unrelentingly evil and, having been freed from the "cage" in which he was imprisoned, is presently roaming the Earth (played by Rick Springsteen as a rock star whose body the Devil has inhabited) with dire prospects for humanity.

In the world of LUCIFER, angels and demons (fallen angels) take physical form by producing fleshly constructs for the purpose—or at least that seems the usual method. Lucifer's mother, on the other hand, becomes corporeal by taking over the body and persona of a dead woman. In SUPERNATURAL, celestial and infernal beings visit Earth by possessing the bodies of living human "vessels." The difference is that angels have to get the host's permission (and demons often seem to destroy the vessels they occupy, judging from the typical outcome when a possessed person is exorcised). Both series postulate a dualistic universe. Good and evil seem to clash on an equal footing. Moreover, the very definitions of "good" and "evil" appear ambiguous. In SUPERNATURAL, many angels have no compunctions about sacrificing human lives in the service of what they conceive as the greater good. As for God, He has been simply absent for most of the series until the climax of last season. Even the highest-ranking angels had no idea where he went or why. In LUCIFER, God seems like the archetype of a strictly authoritative parent, at least as viewed by Lucifer and (by the opening of this season) his unfallen brother who's tasked with returning him to Hell. Both of them portray their "Father" as an inscrutable tyrant.

The universes of SUPERNATURAL and LUCIFER are dualistic in another sense, too. In each, the male Deity has a female consort. In SUPERNATURAL, she's opposite and equal, God's sister, the primal Darkness, co-eternal with Him. In LUCIFER, God has a wife, the Mother Goddess of the universe. However, they're not equal; He has the power to consign her to Hell. God's power doesn't seem unlimited, though, because He has ordered the angelic characters and Lucifer to return her to the infernal realm, and He doesn't take direct action when this command isn't obeyed.

These programs differ radically in their approach to spiritual and metaphysical issues from the older series TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, one of my all-time favorites, far more conventional in its treatment of God, supernatural beings, and their interaction with humanity. One thing I like very much about TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL is that its angels were explicitly portrayed as another species, a separate creation from us, not the spirits of dead people as in the misconception that stubbornly persists in popular culture. The angels in SUPERNATURAL (but apparently not most of the demons) and LUCIFER also clearly belong to a different order of being from humanity. Why do these newer series depart so far from the orthodox depiction of celestial entities as purely good, as in TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL (not to mention the older program's consistently happy endings)? Has a fundamental shift in cultural attitudes toward spiritual matters occurred in the intervening decades? Or, more likely, has the extent to which the viewing audience will accept iconoclastic treatment of such topics changed, maybe from the influence of boundary-pushing cable programming? Also, TV programmers are always looking for something new to grab the public's attention, so the stretching of boundaries from the simple, financially driven motive of novelty-seeking may partly account for the difference.

The image of God presented in these two current series may strike many viewers as blasphemous. But despite their unorthodoxy, I'm encouraged by the fact that two major networks think it's worthwhile and profitable to offer programs that grapple with issues of ultimate metaphysical significance.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Worldbuilding From Reality - Part 5 Realistic Happily Ever After by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Worldbuilding From Reality
Part 5
Realistic Happily Ever After
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

The previous parts to Worldbuilding From Reality are here:




Reality is a tricky thing to define. Take any pair of humans and they will disagree on the "reality" of at least one broad topic of life.

Marry those two people to each other and they'll fight cats-n-dogs over that one issue, no matter how much fun they have making up afterwards.

Yet, ultimately, "reality" (whatever it is) is the substance from which fiction is woven.

A fiction writer must study "reality" as closely as any non-fiction writer, more closely than most journalists today.

A fiction writer doesn't need to "know the truth" to set her imagination free, and in fact "truth" probably won't help the WIP get finished.

But if you are a Romance Writer, you need to know what your readers feel is true.

Here is an article about the beliefs of successful people -- if you are writing for successful people, you should incorporate these beliefs into your Characters.  Note #1 on this list is READ.


And here is the Source.

Knowing what your readers feel is true (as contrasted with what they think is true) is also vital for a science fiction romance novel writer.

What we feel is true does not always line up with what we think is true.

Men differ from women in the area of thinking about emotions.

Nailing that elusive difference on that one topic lets a writer depict a Character as male or female in a way that the reader will recognize without the Character being just another thin cardboard cutout cliche.  But it has to be "off the nose" -- see Save The Cat! If you articulate and delineate that difference, it won't seem "realistic" to many readers.

So today we have 3 separate topics to blend into one seamless artistic whole called a "world" we have "built" -- Realistic - Happiness - Ever-After.

That's a Love Triangle: the Practical Guy - the Idealistic Woman - the Visionary Guy.

One thing Romance genre readers have in common is a subliminal, sometimes elusive, feeling that there really exists a Happily Ever After lifestyle and state of being.

Readers feel that truth even if they have never, personally, observed a couple living a Happily Ever After life.

Why is it that we believe in the Happily Ever After, not as just fantasy but as reality, without ever seeing it with our own eyes?  Believing it is real and then failing to achieve the ideal state is a source of much larger than life, dramatic, angst Romance novels focus on.  "Get a different man, and everything will be fine!"  Is that true?  How could it not be true?

I've collected a few answers to that question that could be used as Story Springboards.

Here's Part 4 of Story Springboards:

And here's an index to a few:


Remember, most often the Story Idea precedes the building of the world in which the story is a plausible (maybe inevitable) Event.

Not all writers (or not every project of any given writer) begin with Story or Character, but it is vastly common among the most prolific Romance writers.  Romance is about the Characters and how they Relate to each other.  Well, for that matter, so is "War" -- and that is another reason science fiction and romance genres are such a natural fit.

My collection of answers to the question of why WE believe in the HEA (while so many others just don't) includes examinations of fictional Worlds and their structures, the nature of Reality, the nature of Happiness, and perhaps most important the concept of "ever after."

We've been working on how to create a Romance between a Human and an Alien that is plausible to readers who disbelieve the HEA for some while.


Previous parts of Theme-Worldbuilding Integration are indexed here:


We have discussed, under Theme-Symbolism Integration, why it is that we cry at weddings.


That entry has links to the two previous parts of that series on symbolism.

So we've been assembling the tools to discuss the vast schism in our real world between those who expect "life" to have a Happily Ever After and those who know for a fact that there is no such thing as an HEA.

Now we have to survey our everyday real world and the prevailing beliefs guiding thinking and the prevailing thinking shaping beliefs.

Remember the theory that in every Man there is a Hidden Woman, and in every Woman there is a Hidden Man.  In other words, both polarities are available to every human (might not be true of Aliens).

And remember the occult theory that Gender is a property of Soul -- Souls come in masculine and feminine, and as the Soul descends into the body in stages (from conception, through 12 or 13 years or so of growth) the Soul shapes the body.  These two theories of "what" a human is generate a vast number of themes and their attending conflicts, all pre-packaged to become perfect Romance Novels.

If the human social schisms were cleanly divided along gender lines, all women would be on one side of the HEA battle and all men on the other.  Since that is not the way it is, what is actually going on?

Why do some people believe that what they've never observed nevertheless exists, and some people believe that if they can't observe it, it does not exist.  Worse, that if they can't see it, then it is impossible.

We see humans divide themselves on every issue right along that idea of what is real and what is not  -- religion vs science, HEA vs HFN, Freedom of Speech vs Don't Offend Me, Freedom to Bear Arms vs. You Must Be Prevented From Attacking Me Because Of Course You Would If Armed.

How many have observed Science discarding settled scientific theories, yet believe the latest is the last, firm and absolutely true truth?  How many have observed Religions splitting, reforming, founding new branches?  How many have been the target of a madman/woman with a gun?   You may see it on YouTube or TV but how do you know its "real?"

YouTube videos that go viral are often professionally shot and edited, a secret that few know.  Also few know the secret that "demonstrators" who show up with signs and rotten tomatoes to "protest" something actually are recruited and paid for the job.

We do not live in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get world.

Just look at the Political Candidates who hire image consultants and speech writers, makeup artists, (Botox is making a fortune) and even a specialist to go buy clothing and get it altered to fit, to be worn only once.  The package presented for voters to choose does not resemble what's inside the package. You can't see what's inside the package, but you are supposed to "believe" it is what you want or prefer.  You are supposed to believe that the packaging is Reality because it is "realistic."

Note how Belief In The UnObserved appears as the rationalization for an attitude on both sides of the schism, the side that believes what can not be proven and the side that flatly refuses to believe anything is real if they have not observed it.  Any given individual human (not Alien) can be on different sides of this schism on different issues and not feel any lack of intellectual integrity.

One very important schism of the 21st Century is over whether what can't be observed is real.

For example Global Warming.  There are those who accept the numbers as observations and "settled science" and thus the phenomenon as Real (because science is never wrong), and those to whom numbers are way too easily concocted out of imagination, forged, or misinterpreted and so are not proof of Reality.

This is the schism that divides us on the issue of belief and knowledge.

One depiction of Reality attributes Knowledge to the Masculine and Belief to the Feminine.  So the schism besetting our National and International politics is the old Battle of the Sexes issue of "what is reality?"

"My feelings are Real!" vs "I know what I'm talking about!"

Do modern men today believe in the HEA as a real goal in life?

It's obvious from the burgeoning Romance field that a huge fraction of women do, and a lot of men as well.

So why doesn't everyone know (not believe but know) that "life" well lived leads to a long stretch of Happily Ever After years -- despite the size of the challenges before you during youth (18-30 are the peak years of peak challenge usually).  After 30, people tend to confront challenges (Conflict of a novel) using previously acquired and tested skills.  Everything that has happened, happens again, only this time you have the where-with-all to deal.

Humans on one side of the schism view the real world from the angle of, "If I just had X, Y, Z, then X, Y and Z would make me happy."  XYZ can be house, car, job, or it might be wife, kids, great vacations, or $7,000 suits, diamond cuff links and the respect I'm due.  Or alternatively, maybe "If I just had enough money, I'd be happy."  They "know" because they've seen people who have those "things" who are quite clearly "happy."

Humans on the other side of the schism view the real world from the angle of, "Wow, look at this amazing world full of glorious surprises and magnificent people! Life is such fantastic fun!"

In other words, some people deem Happiness to be a product of what happens to them, or their situation, or possessions. Other people deem Happiness to be a product of what they do in life, or give in life, or observe in life.

Both see Happiness as real, but identify the emotion's origin differently.

Many human cultures have enshrined this wisdom in various aphorisms.  Even those who seek "things" and "wealth" expecting it to "make" them happy know with their minds that things don't make happiness.  What they don't know is that Happiness Makes Things.

Happiness is a force, a simmering and muted Joy, that comes from deep down inside a human being and emanates outwards into their environment, creating and shaping that environment.  Things don't "happen to them."  Rather, "they happen to things."

We all know the Great Novels depicting the contented, glowing satisfaction that can envelope a household ostensibly impoverished of "things" where a good marriage creates fine children who go on to do great things in the world.

That is the President Abraham Lincoln legend -- log cabin, learning to read and study law by firelight, becoming President, freeing the slaves, being assassinated.

We have had Presidential Candidates galore bragging about their poverty-stricken origins and meteoric rise.

Poverty as a badge of honor -- or poverty as an excuse never to contribute to the world.

Same schism we've been talking about - the poor, living in poor neighborhoods see nobody who has succeeded to become not-poor.  Half of them know for a fact that's because there is no way to succeed (because if there were a way, they would see it), and the other half believe there must be a way, and if there is not then they'll create one.  Some of those found drug cartels, others become tech company CEO's or Senators.  Half can't be stopped because they believe, and the other half can't be started because they know.

It is amazing how many do succeed.  Most of us know how dispiriting grinding poverty is.


We've all read tons of novels about the poor little rich boy - the wastrel and ne'er do well, son of a Duke who gambles away the family fortune.  It's classic for a reason - it is real, it happened, it still happens.

So starting out with the presence or absence of wealth does not correlate with productivity and stability in life.

When we talk about the "Happily Ever After" we are referring to a Steady State -- a stable condition that does not change despite events.  It's not an absence of Events that characterizes the HEA years, but the inability of Events to change the state of "Happiness."

Think about that.  The HEA is about a Happiness that is not caused BY Events, and does not prevent Events (adverse and otherwise) from occurring.  The Happiness comes from within and is stable because it is not caused by "stuff" that is possessed, status, social standing, or reputation.

The HEA is a steady state.

In Chemistry, this is called Buffering - a buffered solution contains a reserve of chemicals that will absorb any acid tossed into the solution and convert the acid to a neutral, and other chemicals that will absorb any base tossed into the solution and convert that to a neutral.  The Buffered Solution will be measured at the same pH regardless of what is tossed into it.  It APPEARS stable.  You can measure it.  You can identify the numbers precisely.  You can see for a fact that it is stable.  It isn't. Its reserves get used up neutralizing whatever is tossed into it, so eventually its pH will change.

Life is like that.  Stability is only apparent.

Viewed from outside, a stable situation may seem unchanging even though it is really Buffered.

The HEA is like that buffered solution.  With enough stress, change is required.  But because of the Happiness being sourced within, not without, the emotional resources to make those changes are available.

So a person who has little or nothing, a person going through an impoverished stage of life (college student, student-loan years) (or living a whole life in that stage, never making it to college) may look at people who have a stable-seeming suburban life/job/kids/pets/mortgage/cars/ lifestyle and deem that the lifestyle makes them Happy because it is so stable (while the impoverished always have good reasons to feel threatened).

The people who have all those "things" and don't feel Happy may seek to acquire more things because they know people who have more and seem (from the outside) happier. Since they can see that it is so, they therefore know that it is so.  Just get more and be happy.

People who have reached a Happily Ever After plateau in life may take such pleasure in their "things" that they deem their happiness caused by the things.

You can construct Aliens who have this same schism -- or perhaps see their world and lives from a different angle.

Even humans have another way of looking at the world, but it involves a different concept of what a human being is, what the world is, and how humans and the world fit together into such a seamless whole that we can't figure out what happiness is, where it comes from, or how to acquire our fair share.

This would be termed the Spiritual view of the world, the view of the world where a Human is an ape-body hosting a Divine Spark of a Soul not just a collection of neurons subject to epigenetic modification by Events.

Thus Romance Genre is built upon the concept of the Soul Mate.

Because science fiction romance is "romance" genre, the worlds we use are built on the concept that romance is the primary precondition to marriage -- "I love you" and "Will you marry me" are generally at or near the END of the typical Romance novel.

So if the concept of the Soul (which nobody can see or measure, so we can only believe in it) seems un-realistic to a particular reader, the concept of the Soul Mate will be nonsense, and the entire foundation of the Happily Ever After crumbles to a painful Happily For Now.  The next incoming Event will knock the couple off their Happiness pinnacle and plunge them into more angst and agony.

But science fiction and fantasy readers, especially Paranormal Fantasy readers, are accustomed to believing six impossible things before breakfast.

If you can induce suspension of disbelief in your readers, you can draw them into a world you have built where Souls do exist, and Soul Mates do find each other and live happily ever after, not in the absence of adverse Events but despite that adversity, perhaps even relishing adversity.

It is tricky to write like that because you, the writer, must know what beliefs your reader holds dear and how to get that reader to suspend disbelief.

Try this approach.

Suppose your target reader is convinced there exists no such thing as a Happily Ever After because no couple he/she has ever known seems to live that way.

Perhaps you can sell that reader on the hypothesis that the HEA state of Life can be created, perhaps magically or perhaps by Computer Dating Service, Time Travel, Dimension Travel, or some other device.

You then have to explain to this reader why he/she can't observe any real people living in the HEA state right now.

One answer is well known in an old traditional religion, and it is privacy.

Here is a 30 minute video of an explanation of Jewish marriage ceremony customs that explains how essential to Happily Ever After is the establishment of 3 Private Spaces -- the woman's personal private space, the man's personal private space, and the Couple's very well defended personal private space.


This video explains the way that personal, individual sovereignty is the bedrock necessity for the forming of stable community (where, in this case, community is the married couple).  Remember "stable" is the Characteristic most identified with the HEA.

10 minutes into the video, the lecturer uses the term soul mate.

25 minutes into the video he discusses the 3-rings I'm using as a model below.

It is a much better constructed essay than any I've ever written. It sticks to the point, where I never do.

It is a 30 minute video, but worth every minute if you are irked by how hard it is to get readers to accept the HEA as plausible.

The solution to that problem is in that video -- but the fellow speaking probably has no idea what he's said.  Here is some of how I think it can be used in a Romance novel aimed at HEA-skeptics.

The individual, personal separateness maintained during all the years of marriage is here explained not as inimical to togetherness, but as the essential component of togetherness and to unconditional love.

Unconditional love (watch the video for the explanation of it in Marriage) generates "happiness."

Happiness is the outward flowing force that shapes the couple's world.  No incoming Event can alter the state of "happiness." because happiness does not originate without, does not come in from outside, but emanates from inside.

He's talking about forming a dwelling for the Love that Conquers All.

The description of the symbols of this ceremony can be used to explain to the disbeliever in the HEA that Happiness is not dependent on finding exactly the right person to marry, or on hammering the new spouse into the desired image, but on making the person you marry your Soul's Mate.

The Soul Mate condition is a creation, the result of a mutual and arduous effort on the parts of two people, who create that condition by respecting each other's personal privacy.

Not just any random pair can make a marriage, so a great deal of high precision discrimination is necessary to find a solid match.  But humans being humans, nobody's perfect, and parts match while other parts clash.  The point of the arranged marriage is not lack-of-clashing-parts, but rather stability of the Couple and their home, to raise children well.  Stability is the point, and it rests on privacy.

The secret sauce, the ingredient that forges all human Relationships, is Privacy.

What goes on between these walls stays between these walls.  When you come inside these walls, you leave your work outside with your muddy boots.  (see House of Zeor)

Personal sovereignty and personal privacy is being eroded in modern life, and concurrently we can see the deterioration of families, of marriages.  Is there a cause-effect relationship between those observations? You can build a number of Worlds around answers to that question, each to house stories with vastly divergent themes.  Study our current Reality, rip your stories from recent Headlines.

For example, one famous incident, way back at the end of June 2016, illustrates how Public Necessity now obliterates personal privacy and personal sovereignty.



The lawsuit says an alarm went off as she and her mother were going through a security checkpoint operated by the Memphis International Airport Police Department and the Transportation Safety Administration. Hannah Cohen became disoriented by the alarm and the security workers' attempts to search her, the lawsuit says.

"The security personnel failed to recognize that she was confused because of her obvious disability and was unable to cooperate with the search," Cohen's lawyers, Kelly Pearson and William Hardwick, wrote in the lawsuit.

Her mother, Shirley Cohen, said she tried to tell TSA agents about her daughter's disability, but she was kept away by police.

"She's trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere," Shirley Cohen told WREG-TV.

The lawsuit alleges the security personnel assaulted Hannah Cohen at the checkpoint, "causing her physical and emotional injury as well as emotional injury" to her mother.

Hannah Cohen was arrested, but the charges were later dropped. ...
--------end quote-------

Why would a TSA Agent make such an error?  Of course, later in the TSA's official (lawyer written) defense, lots more comes to light.

But we're not after facts, here.  We are ripping a Headline to use for story material.

We have a society where a complete stranger can forcibly (legally) lay hands on a person without any indication that the person is guilty of a crime, in fact where indications are that she is innocent of crime (though possibly a dupe of a suicide bomber).

The theoretical concept behind TSA "screening" (search all the innocent in case there's one maybe guilty among them) is Guilty Until Proven Innocent.  In fact, Law Enforcement has moved over the last few decades from removing criminals from circulation to preventing criminals from doing crimes, therefore leaving them in circulation.

Theory was always that it's better to let some criminals get away with crimes than to inconvenience an innocent person.

The innocent miscreant who did something by accident won't do it again.  The criminal will definitely do it again, and more boldly and carelessly, and therefore be caught and removed from circulation.  Law Enforcement need not worry about missing a guilty person, but only about inconveniencing the innocent.

Society can afford to take the damage from the few that get away.  This idea is based on the feeling of solid families firmly living the HEA, experiencing many adverse Events that do not alter their Happiness.

With the disintegration of the nuclear family, the perception dominating society is completely reversed.  We get happiness from things and status, and lose it by losing things and status -- a single criminal action can destroy our country, our American Dream of the HEA.

The theory that Law Enforcement can let a few criminals get away rather than inconvenience the innocent is completely reversed now.

Now Law Enforcement only worries about missing one, not about disrupting the lives of the innocent.  Just imagine how your Alien visitor sees that.

Think about Innocent Until Proven Guilty in terms of "believe what you can not see vs. know only what you can see."

You can believe a Guilty person is Innocent, and can know Guilt only by proof you can see.  Today, Law Enforcement now knows you are Guilty even if they can't see any proof, so they have the right to search you, despite your right to be not-searched.  The rights of the individual count for nothing before the fears (imaginary or not) of the Group. We can't afford to experience even one Adverse Event because it will destroy Happiness.  We must be safe from Events that might happen.

The right of the Group, society, people, the crowd, to be sure there are no bombs on you completely sets aside your right to be not-searched.  This is true of NSA email scanning, and even CDC disease monitoring, or Obamacare mandated screening for diseases you don't have.  You must test everyone to find the few problem people.  Guilty until proven innocent.  Not only that, but the burden of proving your innocence is on you, not the accuser.

The old legal theory of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" comes from the Ancient Greeks where logic established that it is not possible to prove a negative.

You can prove that something does exist, but you can not prove that it does not exist.

Hence the problem with proving Souls exist.

Here is another item on the Ancient Greeks and Happiness:

Nobody has figured a way to prove that souls exist, and since you can prove a positive, surely if Souls exist then we can prove it.

Because we have not proven Souls (and thus Soul Mates) do exist, probably about half of humanity is convinced that Souls do not exist.  The rest believe Souls exist without seeing them, or believe they do see them in the eyes of others.

The thesis is that you can not prove a negative, and mere lack of proof of the positive is not indicative of the negative being true.  Therefore, in a court of law, the accused does not have to prove innocence, but the prosecution must prove guilt.  At a TSA checkpoint, however, you must prove your innocence.

The schism that divides humanity between those who believe in what they can not see, and those who know only what they can see, is not always a 50/50 divide as it is today.  So you can create Aliens who have say, 10% Believers who understand humans in terms of Souls (therefore as possible mates) and 90% who know humans have no Souls because they can see from our behavior how soulless we are.

In other words, perhaps 10% of that Alien population would understand Innocent Until Proven Guilty.  They would view this TSA incident with genuine horror just as most of us do.  The woman was brain damaged, not soulless.

BTW the TSA's immediate rebuttal was that the burden of proper behavior rested with the brain impaired woman who should have called ahead to find out what the screening protocols were.  It so happened, in this one incident, the brain impaired woman (who had just had a cancerous tumor removed from her brain) was traveling with her mother (whose protestations were ignored by TSA).

But the impaired woman was 19 years old, and thus dealt with by TSA as an autonomous adult.

What has this to do with a Realistic Happily Ever After?

This incident illustrates what "realistic" means to those readers who don't believe in Souls because they are not proven to exist.  The woman's innocence was not proven, therefore her innocence did not exist.

We all are focused on preventing explosions and shootings in crowds.

We want to be certain we can go where we choose and not be murdered.  How can we not fear Terrorists?  They're very good at making people afraid, very professional at it because they get paid to instill fear in us.  These days even phoning in a bomb threat can divert a plane or cause it to gain a military escort.  So you can see, they have succeeded.  Why?  That tactic would never have worked on the USA of a hundred years ago - maybe 150 years ago.  What has changed?

The numbers clearly show an increased divorce rate, single parents, adults who were raised by single parents.

Of course, the misery of being unable to get a divorce and the even greater misery of unwanted children, has to be figured into the worldbuilding for an Alien Romance.  By targeting and solving those two problems (which admittedly desperately needed solving if we are to call ourselves human), may (or may not) have done collateral damage in unexpected ways.  What if your Aliens have evolved in such a way that solving those social problems does not destabilize their HEA?

So now we have the social problem of voters wanting to force their politicians to make them feel safe. Remember, this is an exercise in ripping story material from headlines.

Realistically, because some humans hide in crowds of humans then murder a bunch of the humans in the crowd (what if some in the crowd were visiting Aliens?), therefore we must search each and every member of that crowd to find the potential miscreants, and we'll know them by the weapons they carry.

Anyone carrying a weapon, or even just a pocket knife, is obviously a miscreant bent on murder of strangers.  So to find that one murderous person, every single person in the crowd (maybe attending a political rally or a concert) must be thoroughly searched.

Who should do the searching?  Law Enforcement -- i.e. government, crafted by politicians who have been elected on their promises to make everyone feel safe.

We discussed government and its power structures here:


Government used to be tasked with securing our perimeter so we can function freely within it.

But since government has been unable to secure the Nation's borders from the current pop-up threats, we have now tasked government with the job of invading our privacy to keep us safe from having our privacy invaded.  Try explaining that to your visiting Alien diplomats while a TSA agent violates the being's sexual private parts.

What has this to do with marriage?

Did you take the time to watch that video?  It is full of story springboards.

Here is the URL again:


Now back to the video.  Here is a man.  Here is a woman.  They each acknowledge each other's personal space, personal sovereignty, individual foibles.  Together, in cooperation, they CREATE a third space, the Couple.  This new composite has its own space, its privacy, (and foibles).

This marriage between distinctively imperfect people will be solid, stable, "ever after" and at the same time, as a product of that stability, it will radiate Happiness, a force which shapes the surrounding reality.

Happiness does not come from "things" -- but rather "things" come from Happiness.

Happiness is the upwelling, out-flowing force that enriches the world.  It is a creative force, the Divine Love that is Unconditional and manifests as spikes of Joy exploding from a sea of Happiness filling a vessel fabricated from contentment.

This entire Rube Goldberg device called Marriage rests on one thing and one thing only -- privacy.

Marriage rests on three separate and special zones of PRIVACY.

Listen to that video.

The implications of this are stupendous.

The whole concept of the Happily Ever After ending as a "Realistic" goal of real people depends entirely on the establishment and maintaining of Privacy.

Examine how the place that privacy has in our world has changed over the last say, 100-150 years.

Think about what changes in privacy practices (and all the computer hacking related items) has in determining the course of life in today's world if this ancient practice of establishing a zone of privacy is soundly rooted in human nature.

Human Nature might be understood as the privacy zone of the Soul, the privacy zone of the Body, and the privacy zone of the Couple, Soul-Body=Human.

Think about how all this might be viewed by Aliens.

The incident with the brain damaged young woman is a great illustration of how primal bodily privacy is.

It is easy to imagine ( imagine, without basis in the facts of the actual incident) that a person in a brain fog of confusion simply reacts on a primal level to hands intruding into her PRIVATE SPACE, her bodily privacy, reacts as if being attacked by a rapist, and reacts by trying to get away (despite debilities).

Imagine what that intrusion would feel like.

Imagine how you would feel bewildered, in pain and bleeding from falling to the hard floor, then being separated and alone (she was arrested, but we're only imagining the arrest involved separating her; as a 19 year old, she would plausibly have been separated, but this is a story, and that is reality) -- so in our fiction she's alone with strangers in a strange place and has no idea why.

Remember all the posts where we've discussed "ripped from the headlines" -- this news item about the TSA incident is a headline and we are now ripping out the facts, ignoring the truth so we can tell our own story.

Now, imagine because of this news report on her trouble, she gets invited into some experimental stem cell treatment for her brain damage, her brain issues just miraculously clear up, and she fully understands this world and remembers what happened.

If you're doing an Alien Romance, of course the stem cell treatment is donated to Earth by the visiting Aliens, and because of publicity of the incident, she is chosen as the first experimental subject.  And she probably falls for the Alien who shepherds her through the treatment process.

But now she understands what was done to her by the TSA agent, and knows it was done in a perfectly legal way by humans who were convinced they were righteous, doing Good in the name of Good, keeping the public safe, and incidentally getting paid for it.

From the safety of a marriage to an Alien, what does she do?  If she has an HEA with the Alien, does she risk losing it?  If she's miserable, does she see an action that could make her happy?

The problem is half of humanity (that schism that has a mirror image among the Aliens) does not believe in the HEA because HEA only occurs when surrounded by those 7 circles of PRIVACY.

From the outside, you can not observe an HEA in progress.

HEA can not happen where it can be observed.  It can exist only in PRIVATE.

The HEA grows into existence within the privacy of marriage, but the kind of marriage within which the complete sovereignty of the individuals is observed.

As the video defined it, marriage is about Trust - the trust that privacy will not be breached.

The TSA, FBI, CIA and other alphabet agencies have been legally empowered to breach that privacy -- maybe because voters don't think privacy is important.

Small wonder that half of humanity doesn't believe in the HEA - you can't see it because it ceases to exist when you look.  Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applied to the Soul?

Now, Human society is composed of the nuclear family.  Families amalgamate into tribes composed of related families.  Tribes amalgamate into larger groupings, counties, states, and Nations.

National Federal government rests on the privacy of marriage -- hence a spouse can not be forced to testify against a spouse, or an individual against self.  The whole house of cards comes tumbling down without that pure and absolute Trust that Privacy is honored.

But lets look at the larger social structures (remember we're writing Alien Romance).

Humans marry each other, creating the nuclear unit.

The Units likewise "marry" each other, in that same 3-way-circle structure described in the video.

First individual privacy is guaranteed, then two of the units create a new zone of privacy around them.  The Tribe exists within a circle of privacy created by trust in each other.

The Tribes then "marry" each other -- same process, two private individuals create a third private space, perhaps a County containing them both.  Counties marry each other to form States.  States marry each other to form The United States.  Eurozone seems to be a failed marriage - maybe because privacy has been violated.

Marriage is a business contract just like cities making counties and counties making states - all under constitutions with officers and bylaws.  A single couple's marriage is a contract, a business contract with value exchanged.  The same process creates States and Nations.

That is the theoretical basis of State's Rights -- each state is a zone of PRIVACY which exists because of Trust that privacy won't be violated, and because of that Trust the State or Nation produces Happiness which has the side-effect of producing riches.

In other words, the idea behind State's rights (history books aside) can be summed up by that video explaining Marriage as a process of establishing privacy within a bond of trust.

That's why our money says In God We Trust.

Without that trust in our privacy, without a personal perimeter into which government does not go, there is no family, and thus no Nation.

With that trust in our privacy being respected (even or especially by the TSA) we generate happiness that flows into the environment and creates the love that conquers all.

Unconditional love requires privacy to conquer all.  Consider, the IRS is also a hated monster -- its mission is to invade our privacy and even the private space of a marriage (filing jointly - your spouse cheats; you can go to jail).  We likely would not hate or distrust government if it didn't invade our privacy.

There is a huge difference between privacy and secrecy.  You could make a case for the idea that they are not even related.

Criminals keep their activities secret. Normal people guard their privacy.

It's not that simple, of course, humans being human, but entire thematic structures can be built from the nuances of these two concepts, private and secret.

Just look at Hillary Clinton's FBI investigation results.  Intent made the difference since she accidentally didn't keep her private email secret enough to conform with the law.  But it is not a felony to commit a felony by accident (or we'd all be in prison).  She wanted her privacy and saw no reason the law could interfere with her legitimate need for privacy.

Secrecy vs Privacy is a huge theme source for romance.  (Do watch that video.)

Here is more on thematic structures and love.


And here are two in the Believing In Happily Ever After series:

Standardization vs Customization:


Nesting Huge Themes Inside Each Other:

There are now 7 parts to Believing In The Happily Ever After.

The Index post goes up on this blog Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The link will be
Jacqueline Lichtenberg