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On the Bright Side
So it's TEOTWAWKI: The End Of The World As We Know It. You've been warned. It's been coming for a while. We all have to deal with it. The world wide economy is spinning out of control. There's Global Climate Change, Peak Oil, Drought, Famine, War, Plague, and a whole host of nasties either here or on the horizon. Tomorrow is not going to be like yesterday.
No doubt plenty of our readers are affected or know people who are. The extended QM family knows what it's like to lose jobs, have a house put up for auction, and have other nasty things happen. I acknowledge people are going to feel a lot of pain. It's going to be harsh. I'm not making light of that.
But wait a minute! The title of this piece is "On the Bright Side." I mean it too. Let's look at a few positives. Everyone talks about thinking outside the box. Now that so many people have been laid off from their cubicle based jobs, all their thinking is out of the box. A simple massive economic downturn accomplished more outside the box thinking than a whole army of motivational speakers. Can't wait to see where all that thinking will take us. There should be great things happening.
Don't believe me? Let's go back to the last depression. That was a time of financial collapse, stress, and turmoil - not much fun for a lot of people. However, for quite a few people, it was fun. No, really. Just check out the movies and music that came out of that time period. Plenty of creativity there. Check out the painters and writers of the time and you'll see people reaching out into new directions. Science Fiction got a big boost. Readership exploded. Until, that is, WWII paper shortages killed the pulps. Oh well, looks like we'll get a second chance.
Back to the present. Once people figure out that the rules have changed they are going to break loose. It's going to be an exciting time, with the riots and all, but you can't riot all the time. At some point, you've got to move on. The old 9 to 5 routine will have lost its appeal. Why bother going to work if you can't keep your home, and the promise of a pension is a joke? That is, if you haven't been thrown out of work in the first place. Suddenly, you have all that time on your hands. What to do, what to do?
Many will rediscover that old Gibson or Martin guitar in the attic and express themselves in song. Good for them. I expect to hear some terrific street musicians in the future. In fact, I expect more and more people to make their own music. House parties, where music is provided by amateur musicians will flourish. I've seen it myself. Can't seem to have a kid's birthday party without the fiddles, guitars, mandolins, and banjos coming out. Get a few people together and the homemade cider flows and someone starts plucking a guitar. Good fun.
Not everyone expresses themselves in music. Expect to hear a lot of bad poetry being read in coffee houses. With luck, there will be some good poetry too. People will have some real dramatic experiences for inspiration. Other people, with a slightly different bent, will turn to writing. No one will be making any money at it, so they won't be constrained by commercial consideration. They'll write because they want to. Many of those will write S/F, Fantasy and other speculative fiction. It's a great escape from harsh realities. It'll be cheap entertainment too, so people will get into it.
Here's how I imagine the average QM author in the near future. Picture a foreclosed suburban home. It's occupied by squatters. There might be a job or two among them, but probably not much of a job. Instead of working for money to buy food, they'll grow potatoes and other veggies in the back yard. Catfish will be raised in the abandoned swimming pool. Rabbits might be snared in the remains of an overgrown golf course.
Our intrepid writer will be tapping away on a salvaged computer powered by a solar panel, or perhaps a home built windmill. He'll have hacked into an Internet connection. As he or she types away, an admiring member of the opposite sex will bring over a home brewed beer. It'll be the best damn beer in world. In the background will be the sound of someone practicing cord changes on the guitar. The smell of delicious catfish stew will get his attention as he finishes his latest story. Life will be good. The stories will be good too. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.
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