05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stranger than fiction

Often, the news is all doom and gloom. I don’t like watching it. Economic disasters, natural disasters, famines, wars, ineffectual politicians bickering about issues that don't ever seem to get resolved to anyone's advantage. And there's always someone on there banging on about how things aren't as good as they used to be and how it's Someone's Fault, whether the guilty parties are rich people, poor people, strange people, stupid people, smart people, unhealthy people or even just The Government.

But sometimes, the news can be inspirational for writers. Especially if you've got a penchant for the gruesome.

Take the recent Saga of the Missing Airliner. That 777 that 'vanished' in South East Asia. I don't wish to make light of tragedy, and I feel for the families of all the deceased. It's a terrible situation.

But it's intriguing, too. Apparently, someone in the cockpit of this aircraft has calmly switched off the transponder, turned the aircraft away from its planned course and flown it into the middle of nowhere.

No emergency, no engine fire or explosion or loss of cabin pressure. No radio calls. No squawking 7500 for 'hijack'. No shenanigans on the flight data the plane's systems automatically send back to the airline. All, apparently, was smooth and sweatless. And then…

Hijackers, hell. Do you know how to turn a high-tech, glass cockpit, almost fully automated airliner and fly a new heading? To switch off the transponder? Hell, I wouldn't even know which switch was the transponder. Besides, the cockpit is locked, and inaccessible from the cabin. Since 9/11, they don't open the door for anyone, no matter what havoc they're wreaking.

So who flew this plane to its death?

The flight crew, that's who.

There are so many cool and creepy explanations why someone would do this, I hardly know where to begin. An outbreak of zombies in the cabin, obviously. Insanity. A contagious disease that would have wiped out the world. A suicide pact among the flight crew. Mind control by abducting aliens. Possession by demons. Inspiration from on high. Maybe the captain was the hijacking nutbag. I can hardly wait.

Here's another one for you. I was watching a doco about a future manned mission to Mars, and they said that one of the limiting factors is how much exposure an astronaut can stand to the background radiation in space.

This radiation is cumulatively deadly, so this program said, and unlike solar radiation, we have no substance that can shield against it. But maybe there will be some humans who are genetically immune to the radiation, or at least slower to die from it. The 'right stuff', in the future, might be genetically determined.

An awesome story pretext to put a bunch of really wrong people in space for an emergency long-haul space mission to save humanity. Because they're the only ones who can possibly survive it. A genetically predisposed idiot. An agoraphobic who's never left the house. A claustrophobic. Someone with their own agenda. Or a madman…

Anyway. Inspiration is everywhere. Just let your imagination run wild. And if all else fails, add zombies and/or serial killers. They're a sure winner.



Paty Jager said...

Fun but creepy take on the latest headlines. ;) I agree there is so much goes on in the world that writers can grab and use to make their worlds have conflict and inspire emotions in readers. Great post!

Sarah Raplee said...

We're all fascinated by mysteries in the headlines, that's for sure! The 'What-ifs?" that headlines inspire are wonderful fodder for story ideas. I have planned a book around a headline that got me wondering, "What if what people thought about this man (that was not true) was true? How would he, and his life, be different?"

Judith Ashley said...

What is eye-opening to me about the current airplane disaster is our need to Know what happened. Speculation is rampant. And while I know we are curious, in this case we seem, as a species, unable to wait until the investigation runs it's course for our answers.

Thoughtful and interesting post.