Editorial License - Day of Terror, Future of Hope

Future Hope            Changing View 

Future of Hope --  Ernest Lilley, Editor, SFRevu

The horrific events of last Tuesday are exactly the sort of thing that many works of Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction begin by looking back at. As always, though, that view of the future is obscured by the haze of the present and fails to take into account the other side of the story.

New York City, September 11th, 2001

Yes, the future holds tragedy on a vast scale, but that doesn't mean that we will become rootless and without community, loners, trusting no one. Rather the opposite. The same feeling that I enjoyed at Worldcon, that we were all part of the same group, is what I felt this past week from everyone I came in contact with, New Yorkers, Californians, Londoners, Christian, Jews, Muslim and others.

As a tribe, Sciffy got off lightly, with no direct losses so far as I know, but everyone lost the same thing, the sense of invulnerability that individuals lose when they become adults, and perhaps that societies lose when they mature.

In Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman", he visits William Shakespeare after Guy Fawkes' bombing attempt of Parliament in 1605. Talking to a friend who is dismayed that the events of the day will be lost in the ephemeral memories of the people, they contrive a rhyme and teach it to an urchin, creating an information meme to be passed down through the ages.

"Remember, Remember, the fifth of November...Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot..."  

With the twin towers tumbled, I wonder if the same might be said of this tragedy. World Trade Center? Wasn't that blown up by a bomb in the basement? Maybe someone should commit a bit of doggerel to the project, or in the web-age, do children no longer chant rhymes over hopscotch and jumprope? 

The impact of the loss of life and the erosion of the feeling of security that I felt is still going on, and I wonder the classic question of those who have witnessed horrors, how can we tell those who are yet unborn how this feels?

As a literary community, I think we have a better set of tools than most to convey the lessons learned forward, to discuss and understand the forces that led to this pass and the paths away from it.

I remember watching a movie of Will Roger's life once, in which his parents tell him that though they are proud of what he's accomplished, they had always thought he'd wind up leading the parade, not providing the color commentary.

We're a bit like that in SF.  Warning the world of the dire consequences of what will happen "if this goes on...," but less often shining a light on a future we might want to live in. Less drama in it, I suppose.

Well, the SFRevu staff joins with everyone in mourning those lost, offering sympathy to the friends and families most touched, holding out a candle aloft to show not only that we stand with the world in remembrance, but to shine its light on the road ahead, to find a path towards a world where humans can live together no matter how different they are.

A Changing View  -- Sharon Archer, Associate Editor, SFRevu

A few years ago the group I worked with was transferred from our offices in Jersey City several miles northwest to East Rutherford.  The commute was so much easier, the parking free and (especially appreciated in winter) indoors too!   I regretted only the loss of my office – its privacy, its comfort and above all its view.  Mornings I could sit back at my desk, sipping tea, munching a muffin, listening to the soft murmur of classical music and gaze out the glass-walled 22nd story window across the river at the magnificent twin towers, so close it was as if I could reach out and touch them.  Sunny days watching the sun reflecting off them onto the water …peaceful, serene, beautiful.

On September 11th I watched them for the last time from an office window somewhat removed from Jersey City but still within a clear view.  Watched them smoke, watched them burn, watched them fall. 

The smoke still wafts from where they stood.  The view has changed.  Not only of the skyline but of life itself.  

We are in mourning – grieving for our losses, yes of property and prosperity but of so much more – the loss of friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, of people who we never before knew and now know only through the wall of hope, the wall of memories. We are grieving the loss of our fellow Americans and the loss of American innocence.  A new sense vulnerability fills us all. Those born into lives subjected to terrorism may not be able to fathom the profound sense of loss experienced by all Americans, those more recently exposed will understand. 

I know in the grieving process there are numerous stages.  Anger is one of them.  I feel that now.  A dull rage over having it torn from us, the lives, the peace of mind, the surety for the future – for ourselves but more importantly, for our children.  

So what do we do now?  How can we go on? The only answer can be, together.

 I recently returned from Worldcon with a renewed feeling of a worldwide community, of shared understanding, cooperation, common dreams and goals.   People from all walks of life, from many different countries with widely differing backgrounds and experiences had come together to communicate – to share an appreciation for the past and a vision for the future.  Whatever their native languages were, there they spoke a common language. 

I had despaired of ever experiencing anything like that outside of the Science Fiction world.  I am beginning to despair no more.  For I have heard the Star-Spangled Banner played at the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, seen flags flown at half-mast over Moscow, viewed multitudes gather in support in Berlin and elsewhere, witness country after country express their sympathies, rally to our side.  

Yes, the view has changed but what I am seeing now gives me hope for the future.