Monday, August 9, 2010

The Five Second Rule

This morning I watched a quick clip on breaking the myth of the five second rule. You know the one that says something is still safe to consume if it spends no longer than five seconds on the floor when dropped. Well of course it's bogus. Bacteria spreads to surfaces faster than we can have the thought about it. But I realized listening to the scientist expound on this that I just don't care. I honestly believe one of the environmental hazards of our world (or at least the first world culture) is over cleanliness. Brace yourself for TMI and skip over this next part if you care. I've suffered from Ulcerative Colitis since I was a teenager, a condition in which the colon attacks itself for no apparent reason. Some researchers speculate that this may in part be a result of our over clean society. Did you know that people who live on pig farms don't suffer from colitis or Crohn's disease? Interesting. So a little dropped food, five seconds or not, may be good for us, although I'm not advocating dropping it in a pig's pen. Of course bad things still happen. You can still get sick from bacteria that your food encounters on floor contact. Life is about risk management.

Here's where I tie this topic in with my actual writing. This time it has nothing to do with erotic fiction per se, but if you're really upset comment at the end and I'll reply with a few naughty words to spice up the exchange.

When I wrote Bound Odyssey the story premise involved the eventual emigration of Earth's population to a parallel world. Wanting to base my tale on completely factual science (eyes rolling--no chance in hell there) I stopped to think about the implication of diseases on the two world populations effected. (ALERT--tie in to bacteria!) How could we avoid dying from diseases en mass if we hadn't been exposed to the new world's germs previously? Here I'm thinking how small pox decimated native populations in the America's when European explorers hit the dirt here. Imagine that effect multiplied a hundred fold.

I'm all for creative license. I couldn't write fantasy and futuristic fiction without it. But I do feel an obligation when I write to at least consider these subtle issues. So I decided that the two world cultures would exchange inoculations ahead of time for the most potent of their major world diseases. Does that address the entire problem? No. But at least the readers knew I was thinking about it.

Caring about this issue is a bit like my husband's complaints about Star Trek science. I hate it when he points out some inconsistency or impossibility when we watch together. Who cares? The point is moot because the whole damn show is PRETEND! What part of Science FICTION does he not get? No, James T. Kirk and Jean Luc Picard are not real and do not have to defend their choice to scatter molecules throughout the universe with their transporter systems. Yet here I am caring about infectious disease concerns between two planets in the hypothetical future of 2067 when a portal gate has been ripped open between two humanoid populated worlds. Get a clue, me. I know I'll keep on addressing these types of issues for the sake of creating a believable feel to my worlds. As an author, I want my readers to be immersed in my stories, so these details matter.

I'm curious what sort of minor details in world building nag at you as you read or write books? Are there issues in a story that MUST be addressed or they'll bother you endlessly? Please share.

Be well all,



Cara McKenna said...

I'm not especially well grounded in fantasy and futuristic world-building protocol, but I'm totally with you on the bacteria, Michelle! No offense, germphobes, but you annoy the ever-living snot out of me. Actually, it's general fussiness that really annoys me, but I digress. Kids want to eat dirt. Let them. They'll be hardier for it. Okay, irrelevant rant complete.

Savannah Stuart said...

I'm so with you on the cleanliness thing. My mom (who is a teacher) uses that hand sanitizer stuff like it's freaking soap and water. She thinks it's weird that I won't touch the stuff. In college this girl did a presentation on how our 'over cleanly' society is actually hurting our immune systems and I took it to heart. Don't get me wrong, I wash my hands and I don't intentionally drop stuff on the floor then eat it, lol, but I don't worry about that stuff too much and I have a very strong immune system :)

As far as world building in sci-fi or paranormal I can pretty much live with anything as long as it's consistent. I'm addicted to J.D. Robb's books and even though some of her stuff isn't so believable b/c it's in the not-so-distant- future, her writing is wonderful and her ability to tell a story cancels out any little details that might be questionable. However, if it's a contemporary story then I want more realistic themes and to know that the writer did their research. (I'm actually blogging about creative license in fiction this Friday, lol)

Wynter Daniels said...

I don't have specifics that must be addressed. I just know when it works for me and when it doesn't.
I do confess to carrying hand sanitizer with me wherever I go. Go ahead, Cara - smack me!

Terry Odell said...

I agree that we're creating super-bugs with all these anti-bacterials. I'd like to think that the fact that I've hardly had so much as a cold in the past several decades comes from being old enough not to have had all these products available when growing up, and having developed immunities.

And then there's the other issue--colds, etc. are caused by viruses. Killing bacteria won't do a bit of good. There aren't a whole lot of things that can keep up with the rapid mutation rate of viruses. :-)

Michelle Polaris said...

Thanks everyone. Sounds like theirs a consensus on the benefits of getting down and dirty. I think I'm inspired to write a love scene with the h/h rolling around in mud.

Dalton Diaz said...

I lean toward germophobe, but I don't go overboard. Drives me bonkers when people don't wash their hands after using the bathroom, which tends to run more toward men than women. That's worse, imho. I KNOW where that hand has been!

I keep coming back to a Fairy story idea, but I'm not sure it will ever be finished. I'm just not a worldbuilder. I get too mired in details that I feel have to be explained.