A world of change


I had picked up the book from the shelves at the top of the stairs. When I am too tired to read anything useful in bed, I go to old and familiar friends that I know I can re-read and enjoy as pure relaxation without having to concentrate or analyse. This one I hadn’t read for a good few years, but it caught my eye and attention as my son and I had been talking about a picture he had ‘acquired’ on a visit home long ago.

The painting had been on my wall, the oils barely dry. “I like that.” It reminded him, he said, of a book we had both enjoyed when he was in his teens and read every sci-fi and fantasy on my shelves… usually by the light of the street lamp outside his bedroom window. I knew the book without him having to name it. “Can I have it?” I was so pleased he liked it enough to want to live with it that it came straight down off the wall.

Years later, he still has it and until the other day it hung on his bedroom wall where he could look at it every morning. Now he is re-ordering his artwork, adding many of the superb photographs he has taken to his walls and I had been wandering around with the little painting, trying to find the perfect spot for her final home.

So when I made my way up to bed and the Crystal Singer caught my eye, it was almost inevitable that I picked up the book and took it to bed, ignoring the pile that awaits my attention.

As I opened the cover, the date on the fly-leaf caught my eye. Thirty odd years, I realised, since the book had been written. No wonder the hi-tech world of interplanetary space now seems a little old fashioned. Who could have predicted, thirty years ago, that technology would move so fast?

Granted, we don’t yet have the luxury of space travel or a Federation of Sentient Planets… we can’t even govern our own peacefully!.. but so many of the devices and technologies available in the classic sci-fi and fantasies of my younger years are present, or even surpassed, by innovations that have become such a part of our daily life that we barely even notice them any more.

From microwaves to the virtual reality of banking, from the instant and wireless communications of the internet to the microchips and electronic identities we use daily, even for our pets. Three decades and there have been changes so vast in our daily lives to which we have adapted almost without blinking, losing, once and for all it seems, the possibility of individual anonymity.

The once thing that hasn’t changed and which still seems to ‘fit’ within Miss McCaffrey’s created and futuristic universe is human nature. A good storyteller imagines their world as a whole, where none of its quirks are surprising to those who live there. Their characters absorb the traits of their own people and culture and while that may colour their behaviour within the story, no matter what their species or planet of origin, we still write them as ‘human’ because that is all we have and all we can relate to. Even those fabulously crafted races with history, language and essence so distinct from our own yet mirror aspects of humanity, though they may present it in an abstract form.

Regardless of the advances in technology and our ever-changing environs and evolving cultures, I wonder how much human nature has actually changed at its roots since we first looked around and saw our world? I wonder too if that is not the true purpose of the storyteller… to hold up a magic mirror in which we can see ourselves from so many different angles that perhaps we might begin to understand who we truly are.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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20 Responses to A world of change

  1. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    Really good post. I love a story like the one you told. Many scientists have admitted that innovations often start with Science fiction. This is a great way to form a bond with a young man. Hugs, Barbara


  2. I think we haven’t changed much at heart, Sue, through the world around us rushes forward. I’ve often thought that storytellers are mirrors meant to increase our perspective. In a way, all of life is a mirror, stripping away illusion and reflecting us back to ourselves. Lovely post.


  3. Not so long ago I tried to explain to my 18 year old granddaughter what life was like in the 40s when only the well to do had cars, phones which depended on lines attached to the wall, TVs, fridges etc. No-one had computers, mobiles, let alone a wireless gadget you could hold in the palm of your hand to do it all. She couldn’t get her head round it.


  4. jenanita01 says:

    Not sure about that magic mirror, Sue. Quite a lot of people wouldn’t like what they saw, but maybe some good could come out of that after all.
    Love that painting by the way, truly special…


  5. Mary Smith says:

    I was having a similar conversation with someone yesterday. We were tallking about how much of what was once futuristic in books is now here and that the sci fi which survives despite dated technology is down to the characters and their relationships. We like to read about people, their problems and how they solve them.
    I loved Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books – I so wanted to impress a dragon when it hatched.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Me too… I impressed an Ani instead 😉

      It is always about the people, isn’t it? No matter how far flung the universe or how strange the ‘people’ are… at is always about the human factor.


  6. Helen Jones says:

    I think it’s something common to all creative arts, that they are reflections of who we are and who we could be. That’s why they are so universal. And I think it’s fascinating that so much of what was science fiction even twenty years ago is now reality and part of our everyday lives – I horrified my eight year old recently when I told her there was no internet when I was her age 😀


  7. Eliza Waters says:

    I often wonder what my parents and grandparents would have thought of present day technology. It even boggles my mind! Human nature and behavior, however, I’d say has scarcely changed in millennia.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I know my grandfather would have been delighted and fascinated… he was always at the forefront of using the most modern technology. But I agree, some things don’t change.


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