Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thinking Like An SF Writer

A friend sent me the URL for an amazing You Tube video ( in which over 200 people simultaneously freeze in place for five minutes at Grand Central Station (only in New York!) What's fascinating about this is the reactions of all the passers-by. They smile; they cell-phone their friends; they wait interestedly around to see what will happen next. One guy says it's probably a "protest" of some kind. A Grand Central employee, unable to drive his work cart through a frozen group, calls his supervisor to ask what he should do. But nobody is alarmed.

This is when I realized that I must think differently from all these others. Had I seen this sudden mass freezing, the first thing that would have come to mind was a virus of some kind, possibly genetically engineered, that causes a vastly speeded-up Parkinson's-like syndrome, locking muscles in place. I would have called 911, afraid that lung muscles would be next and all these people would stop breathing. I would have wondered if it were contagious.

What does this mean? (1)I need to stop thinking like an SF writer in normal life. (2)I have no appreciation for performance art. (3)I trust that when people do something, it's for straight-forward reasons of their own and not because they're deliberately trying to mess with my mind. (4)I should never live in New York.

There can be more than one correct answer.


Steven Francis Murphy said...

You are already in the state so I do not see how avoiding NYC would save you.

I think the moment I saw something like that, I'd have thought, "protest of some sort" and left it at that. If I were the cart driver, I'd have called security, but only because the twits were blocking my way.

S. F. Murphy

Unknown said...

OMG! You are the person that freaks out over the "security warnings" from Homeland Security aren't you?

Wealthedge said...

If I saw that live and in person, I guess my conclusions would depend on what hat I wore that day. If it was as a fantasy writer, then I would think an ancient magic had been discovered and woken, and all these people were descended from the dark witch that birthed it, now minions under her newly reacquired power. If it was as my regular smart-ass self, then I would think everyone had the Special (made with four day old scallops) from the diner across the street and were whispering to people as they passed, "I need Imodium. Help!"

That's not funny. Stop it.



Nancy Kress said...

Actually, Dale, that's very funny!

King Rat -- No, I don't freak out over DHS warnings because I have no idea what they're based on (if anything). But the freezing in NYC I would have encountered live. "Live" matters.

none said...

5) You'd fit in well in Boston.

(kidding! only kidding!)

smr said...

lol! I saw this video a few weeks ago and could only think what a great experience it would be for my kids (both pursuing performing arts careers). Having lived in Yonkers for a few years, this would not have fazed me. *shrugging* I probably would've been annoyed at having to walk around them to make it to my train on time. :^) ~Su

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Hee-hee! If that's the Grand Central I travel through once in awhile, that's great! But I wonder what the armed soldiers who patrol there thought.

And if I'd been there for that piece of performance art, like to think I'da done a supersonic handstand, leaped up and clicked me heels like Uncle Scrooge, and heisted everyones' wallet, just to test their commitment to art.

Do =not= try this at home, children!

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

I was impressed they were all able to hold their poses, even with people staring and poking at them. I used to to model when I was a teenager, to earn painting lessons, and keeping absolutely still is harder than it looks. I wondered if they had practiced.

I liked the guy who said, "Acting lessons!" I thought that was a pretty good (and very NYC) guess.

Jack Everitt said...

I'm sort of with King Rat - your reaction makes you perfect for a job at Homeland Security.