Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Profiting From Tragedy

Discovery Channel is making a documentary about the sherpas killed in the Everest disaster. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

If it reveals any mistakes that were made - then maybe it's a good thing. But as humans we tend to profit from disasters. We like bad news. As a writer, I admit, bad news gives me more story ideas than good news much of the time. At the same time, it's more than a little bit tacky to use real disasters.

And as a science fiction writer, "what happens when" is important. What happens when a decent-sized meteor hits a decent-sized city? It's bad that people got hurt in that incident, but it did tell us a fair bit about what might happen. (And what to do if you see a fireball: Hint, get away from windows!).

So, there's profiting from tragedy. And then there's learning from it. Let's try and do more of the latter than the former.