Tag Archives: hope

Tesseracts 17 Interview: Rachel Cooper

SF, irony, end of the world, speculative fiction,

Rachel Cooper draws some of her inspiration from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Rachel Cooper is another of our Nova Scotian writers and writes a story of hope and futility. Website: http://www.inotherwords.biz

CA: “Everybody Wins” is one of those stories I tend to love and hate. Can you speak to the hope and futility in this piece?

“Everybody Wins” didn’t start out to be about hope and futility. It arose from a vivid dream image of a floating sphere and grew into a “what if?” exploration. Or maybe, a “what the heck might that be?” exploration. It developed into an event that might lead to the scenario in Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, a book whose main idea—world without humans—resonated with me. When I see what humans are doing to the natural world, I feel close to despair, even though countless good people work to protect it. Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an influence, too, of course, with the world ending for a random and banal reason.

We are creatures of hope and futility, following our aspirations—some worthy, some not—and amusing ourselves to death, as Neil Postman put it in his 1985 book. Some of us are inspiring and generous and loving, others are toxic and nasty. Most of us are decent people trying to do the best we can, but we blunder around in the dark.

I suppose the answer to your question is that I myself live in a state of hope but know that we all die sooner or later; and when we do, the things we cared about will be scattered to the winds (or show up on eBay). I also think that animals are closer to humans than we’ve given them credit for—some species display what we would call culture—and the thought of a non-human species flourishing and taking our place as dominant species is an idea I find interesting rather than scary.

CA: Your story has a heavy dose of irony in it, and plays on our current culture of win win win and the numerous lottos and casinos that abound. Do you think humans will always succumb to such greed and need?

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

They do say (well, Horace Walpole said) that the world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel…. Many of us have lost—or given away—our capacity for deep thought, an apparent trend fueled by the staggering array of technological distractions in our daily lives. We’re drawn to shiny things. Many people have no interest in gambling and lotteries, though, which is why the story’s game includes some prizes that benefit other people.

CA: On an average day, do you see humanity as something with a hopeful or doomed nature?

Are those our only two options? I’m neither a dualist nor a black-and-white thinker, which means most of the time I’m fairly confused. If dithering were an Olympic sport, I’d be wearing gold. My personal belief is that humanity will survive. My personal hope is that some natural correction will result in our being much smaller in number. We’re too great a strain on the planet; we’re pooping all over our nest.

CA: Do your themes tend to reflect darker or lighter notes over all?

This is the darkest piece I’ve written, although death lurks nearby in several of my stories. Writing comedy is the most fun, though. I’ve had two short plays produced; hearing the audience laugh was magic.

CA: What other projects do you have on the go, and will we ever find out where the mysterious artifacts came from in “Everybody Wins”?

Another short play, a fantasy comedy, is finished and submitted, and I’m working on a lighter fantasy story with comic elements. Until I’d written “Everybody Wins,” I hadn’t written any fantasy, but I’m finding it fun to play with. Alas, I have no idea where the mysterious artifacts came from. Cleveland, maybe.

Bio:

Rachel Cooper is a freelance writer and editor in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Besides writing for various organizations, she has published articles on science, people and nature. Born in Winnipeg, she grew up in Ontario and has lived in Scotland, France and England.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/InOtherWords.biz
Twitter: http://twitter.com/RachelCooper_NS
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/erachelcooper

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Our Lives: the Microcosm vs the Macrocosm

The world revolves on a grand scale and on a small or microcosmic scale. The macrocosm can be something as enormous as the galaxy or the universe. But within the environs of the earth it comes down to a country’s personality. It is also earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanoes. It is war, and pandemic diseases. As well it is the nature of both humankind as a whole and the planet in its entirety. On this grand scale we see the war in Libya, the overturning of the government in Egypt, the rising price of gas, heating, food, etc., the many deaths from Japan’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the political temperament of France or Tunisia, the cholera in Haiti, the religious fervor in Afghanistan or the human rights issues of China.

The macrocosm can be scary and all-encompassing. It is the onslaught of the human condition. It can also be beautiful: the ocean, the skies above, a forest, the many species that blanket the earth. It is humanity in all its great creativity, the collective consciousness, the evolution of our kind.

But when we look at the world as a whole we see doom and despair. We see death and cataclysms and everything looks like it’s spiraling down the hole. There are rapists and murderers and pedophiles, drug dealers and car accidents, disease and poverty, wars and subjugation. The news dwells on the negative and not the uplifting. It’s one reason I don’t read newspapers or watch TV; to lessen the onslaught to my sensibilities. My soul weeps when all I see is the tragedy of life and ever impending doom.

But…and this is a big emphasis on a small word…but when I look at the microcosm I see my neighbor who will rescue my cat, the friends who push my car through the snow, the person who holds the door open for me, the intimacy and love of friends and family. I smell a flower, watch a tree slowly unfurl its leaves and blooms, pet a cat, plant a flower, nod to a fellow shopper, go to a party, have a drink with friends and listen to their trials and tribulations, and relate to people every day. That’s my world.

We have to remember this  to achieve some balance in life. To look only at the macrocosm means the world is a despairing place bereft of good and beauty. To look only at the microcosm can mean your problems seem to be mountains or you are ignorant of the world around you. I remember the microcosm daily so that my spirit lifts and I have hope and joy. What matters most are the relationships we form with the people around us, and our environment. What is greatest is sharing love and joy. It is the only way to exist and stay sane in a world filled with chaos. Here’s to the intimate moments in the microcosm.

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Perspectives on the World

The world is an amazing complex sphere. None of us can truly understand the scope of all that it encompasses nor be knowledgeable in all ares. We can fathom some of it but are our views accurate?

I long ago stopped watching TV or even reading newspapers. To this day I have never seen a picture of the twin towers falling. I didn’t need to. The horror was all too real without that. And that is just one reason why I don’t watch TV–the horror of it is too much. These days we have 24-7 news and programming and multiple channels. You can catch the news on a particular subject at any time and if it’s something big, like Michael Jackson’s death, the predators start circling immediately with “in-depth” commentary on his life, his fashion, his eccentricities, his doctors, his drugs, his family, his kids, his debts, his fortune, etc. On and on, with huge drama in every commentator’s voice; melodrama one could say. (I did catch a little bit while at my neighbor’s)

That’s one example but news is never (or rarely) about the good stuff. The adage goes, No news is good news, and that can mean that if you don’t hear anything that’s good news and of course, what sells papers or draws audience viewing is the bad news. The disasters, the accidents, the murders and rapes, the lost children, the poverty, the wars, the despotic regimes, etc.

And what does this do? It weighs us down with darkness and despair, with loss of faith in humankind, with  fatalism. When I watched this stuff, the news, the same plane disaster would be played out several times a day with graphic depictions of the accident. I wept and felt terrible, and grew depressed, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t have compassion for anyone hit with hard circumstances. We should, but we can also be bludgeon into insensitivity with a constant overload of the bad and the tragic.

My outlook would start to cloud and I thought as the world on an downward spiral into eternal darkness. We didn’t need religious myths, we had our hell now. But then I stopped and thought. Were my coworkers, my friends, my family despots, murderers, rapists? Were they evil and uncaring? No. Were they uncaring? No.

And that was just the people I know. On the macrocosm of the world and world events, there are horrors beyond belief. On the microcosm are individual organisms, you and me. Each person can be good or bad but the majority are caring people, who follow the law, who try to help out, who want to believe in the goodness of their fellow human. I try to remember this when I look at the likes of Mugabe, Ayatollah Khomeini, Idi Amin, Osama bin Laden, Willie Picton, Paul Bernardo, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc. that they are the small percentage, the very few.

Their crimes are so vile that they make the headlines. Your friend that picks you up when your car breaks down on the highway, the father who comforts his child, the person who donates to organizations where money will help the underprivileged, we don’t hear about those people, except once in a while. Only if it’s a celebrity do we hear of charitable acts.

And so we get a skewed outlook of our world. Yes, one war can wipe out thousands or millions and is terrible and on the macrocosmic scale still speaks of a problem for human kind in general. As a whole homo sapiens need to strive harder to be better. Yet we must remember the good that people do for it is these small acts that give us hope and faith.

Even with only getting my news through radio (I do stay informed) it is still skewed towards the tragic. But I try very hard to remember the good and that I would have been in more dire straights were it not for the support of friends and family and yes, at times strangers. Give a little and you can receive a lot.

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