I was recently loaned 2 books by my brother, straight-A wiz kid. "The GIZA
POWER PLANT" and "The Mars Mystery". I tried. He's my brother and I tried
hard to get through them. I ended up writing...purging's a better word...to
him my feelings about the genre, which I thought I'd show, you as it cheered
me up a lot. Feel free to use it.
Hi Bro, again,
I'm writing this stuff down as I'm compiling stuff for an essay on
rationality. I don't want to lose it (what I write down, not my rationality!
have I got it anyway...hmmm).
Well 'The Mars Mystery' did it to me again. I ended up skim reading the
whole thing enough to pick out the usual structure of the genre:
The honours graduate of the "Von Daniken School of Unclear Thinking and
Deception" will master the following genre:
1) Rattle off real historical facts with real evidence for a while.
2) Intersperse it with faintest hints something big coming up and possibly
actual conjecture about <insert mystery of choice>
3) Go into great depth on the author's experience and expertise, how much
more sensible it is for me, the author, to know about these things and have
the 'correct perspective'.
4) Put little pointers(a) to bibliographies(b) that make the target
reader(c) think they are participating in a work of science with backup,
that they know no-one but skeptics(d) will ever follow up but they don't
care. It looks good if you allude to an obvious trail of evidence(e) that
you didn't have time to follow up - this saves a lot of work. Let the reader
follow up if interested via (f).
5) Photos. As many as possible. Hand drawn artwork versions of those key but
elusive mysteries, the reader in all likelihood won't read the caption that
6) Diagrams. Do a few diagrams with symbols and high school maths that look
plausible and mysterious and scientific.
7) Put a little more meat on the conjecture and then back off a bit, adding
real events that appear to lend weight to the conjecture. It helps to put in
little hints about being ignored in spite of obvious prowess and mastery of
the subject...this gets the sympathy element of the hard-done by readership
going along with you.
8) Links. It is very helpful to link your mystery to other mysteries. Many
readers have been through the other mysteries and this will lend credence to
9) Intersperse this section with allusions to conspiracies and cover-ups
that conveniently put key evidence just that little bit out of reach. Polish
it with questions like "Did the <mysterious thing > do this/that or the
other", "What if the <mysterious thing> did...".
10) WHAM. Hit 'em with the conjecture as a story of fact.
11) Postulate more future conjectures assuming the WHAMMY is real.
12) Post-Game mop up with philosophical sounding inspirations, rounding off
a hard won fight with the forces of ignorance, welcoming you the tribe of
true believers, leaving you feel like you've been sated, you were right all
along. Not only that, if you don't believe you're in for trouble of some
13) Long list of bibliographies to no-where along with an optional index in
case you need to look up that key gem to quote at the book launch.
1) It really helps as an author if you are as deluded as you want your
readership to be. It sounds more convincing.
2) If you want to do a PhD you can stay on at V.D.S.U.T.D. and do Cult
Leader Ship. This is where you do the above, but in person. Only the
psychologically damaged need apply.
3) Timing. Any allegations made about future events must occur within the
lifetimes of the readership and suit the author's need for income.
4) Sequels. Wherever possible leave enough gaping holes for a second or 3rd
5) Be strong. Your book will, if it ever ends up in a library, be on the
6) Controversy. Ensure that your work or the subject matter ends up being
scrutinsed by skeptics associations. They are a good source of promotional
work as they have a lot of interface to the public at large.
7) WEB SITE. Mandatory but make it all links and with automated email or you
'll end up working for a living. Better to start of an automated discussion
group and let the readership pump each other up. Put a personal/proxy
appearance in from time to time to make them feel like they're part of
There. I feel better now.
I think I'll stick to real sci fi. At least it's honest.
It may not seem like it, but I'm actually trying to be helpful.
Urge to share satisfied again. I hope it lightens your day as it did mine.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:13 MDT