High-tech, low-tech, a blend of technologies, and a Glock by any other name…

It’s a sci-fi, so why do most of the guns shoot bullets? That’s old technology, right? Not really. The bottom line is, it’s cheap technology. In The Khekarian Threat, Sevi has an energy-blaster that can do great damage (and does). Then again, she’s an elite soldier bodyguard for a Khekarian VIP and you would expect her to have all the high technology she might require.

The Good Guys, on the other hand, have low tech projectile-firing weapons used sparingly. They are not fighters or shooters or hunters. They don’t need fancy high-priced guns. They didn’t expect the battle they ended up in.

The truth of the matter is that ordinary people the world over don’t have the latest and greatest in all things. If cash is tight, people just won’t go for expensive unimportant things, especially when cheap will do. When things are really tight, of course, you don’t get the best in the important things, either. People make do according to what they can afford. It’s been like that down through the ages, and I would expect the future to be no different.

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This is realism, seeing a blend of technologies.

My own life has been full of mixed technologies, and yours probably has that, too. Right now, I have a computer, but no mobile phone (cell phone to many of you). We have wood and kerosene heaters and no air conditioning. In the past, I’ve lived rugged and feral on a wilderness block 250 acres in size, with no house, no on-line electricity, no running water, no sewage, no phone. We put up sheet tin on wooden beams in an A-frame over a hole in the ground, and lived in it for nearly five years. We wanted to build our dream home there, but that never eventuated. We loved that block of land all the same.

As our creeks would be bone dry for half the year, we had to store water in big tanks, but the water didn’t get there unless I pumped it there. Our industrial-sized batteries didn’t get recharged unless I ran the generator and put the charge in there. Later we got cold running water, but only after I dug a ditch half a mile long using nothing but a mattock and determination, and put the piping in myself.

You get a real feel for what’s important when you’re off the electricity, water, hot water and television grid.

My world was primitive by Western standards – we didn’t have a fridge, nor a washing machine (clothes got washed by hand). All the same, I recognized our wealth in having the batteries and the pump and the generator. There are a lot of places in the world today that don’t have those things so, in a very real sense, we were rich and hardly primitive.

Those years were probably the best years of my life. It taught me an independence I never knew before. It taught me to enjoy and respect nature for correct reasons, not false ones (nature is beautiful, but it can kill you in a heartbeat. When you live out wild, you watch your back at all times, especially if you are completely alone from before dawn until well after dark five days out of seven).

We had fires come through quite regularly. You back-burn to give yourself a safe zone. We had dust devils form on the low hills – the Australian term being willy-willies. Some of them were quite large and would be frightening. You’d hear them come and when they hit base camp, they would tug on the A-frame roof, lifting the support poles out of the ground. The roof was very heavy, so one never made away with it, but it was scary enough to see those poles lift half a foot at a time.

On another occasion the tin-tent, as we called home, was hit by lightning with me in it. I heard an extended sizzle, which was the actual strike, then a pop when it stopped followed by an immediate BANG when the air smacked back in along that lightning track and the thunder sounded. I don’t remember moving, I just hit the deck, curled up in a ball. Because the tin roof sheets imbedded into the earth, it was grounded safely enough, so nothing exploded. I was also protected and – thankfully – not touching that tin at the time.

We endured snakes under the bed and even bats under the bed. We endured flooding when torrential rain ran inside our hole in the ground one night while we were sleeping, and filled the hole to the brim. By then our bed was underwater and we were awake and bailing. 🙂

An adventurous life – I miss it.

I fell in love with nature’s sounds out there – bird song, the rustle of leaves, the sound of rain, the sounds of animals and insects. I got used to human silence. No radio or television chatter. I unhooked from the dictates of society and politically driven propaganda (yes, it’s really out there), and I have never re-hooked back into that system.

I found peace when I stepped away from society. As tension dropped away, I got healthier. I learned to respect myself, not hate myself (as too many of us are told to do). I grew confident and capable and willing to have a go at pretty well anything. Providing for yourself on this level gives you a huge boost in self-esteem.

Okay, so what has all this got to do with my writing?

The Khekarian Series was born from living on that block. Living like that got me thinking about a pioneering lifestyle. Okay, we had the generator and the batteries and I still had a computer, so I’m not talking old pioneer lifestyle, but something more modern. Science fiction alien world kind of pioneering. I was living it.

None of my characters really rough it the way we did, but the isolation in wilderness is certainly there, and so is knowing that not everyone has the latest. It simply doesn’t happen.

As for guns, we had a gun on that block for protection against animals, mainly for the wild pigs in the area which are dangerous. There were dingo packs (dangerous), poisonous snakes (dangerous) and buffalo (dangerous). There were also crocodiles (very dangerous).

For all of that – and I saw plenty of all of those – I never walked around with the weapon. What usually happens is, you see a wild pig and you end up shinning up a tree, while the rifle stays safe and sound, dismantled back at base.

As for Glocks – the guns in my science fiction novel are called GL-Spitfires, a totally fictitious name, but they are secretly Glocks, safety mechanisms and all. The reason I didn’t call them Glocks was because it sounded too contemporary, however I do give recognition to the weapon with the GL prefix.

I figured for safety, people on pioneering planets would arm themselves. They would have what they believe necessary but probably go no further than that. Bullets are cheap and can be made cheaply and, being self-reliant, pioneers like things they can do themselves. The high tech stuff would probably stay on the store shelf.

Life’s like that. 🙂

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