Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

In the comments about my post regarding The Twilight Zone, Loren mentioned an episode called “A Nice Place to Visit”, about a crook who dies and wakes up in an afterlife where his every whim is catered to and he wins everything. At first he believes it’s heaven, but after a month he’s so bored that he asks to go to the Other Place, only to be told he’s already there.

That reminded me of an episode of another show I saw once. It was in color, so it might have been The Outer Limits. In it, a man gets a device which makes his every wish come true. He can wish for anything he likes – except immortality – and he’ll get it. So he does. He wishes for money, valuables and finally a grand castle all to himself, but like the crook in the first tale, he gets bored. And the single caveat, that he cannot wish for immortality, keeps gnawing away at him.

Eventually he can’t take it any more. He wishes for immortality. Instantly everything disappears and he finds himself in a quarry where people dressed in rags are laboring away with pickaxes. Someone shoves a pickaxe in his hands and tells him to get busy, because that’s what happens when anyone breaks the one rule of using the device. And there’s no way out.

“But how long do I have to work at this?” he says.

“You wished for immortality, didn’t you?” the other man replies. “Now hurry up. Some idiot just wished for a castle.”

It made me wonder what life would be like for writers if everything we wrote was praised uncritically and published without question.

1 comment:

Addis said...

I'd imagine that prose would be so commonplace that it would become invisible.

Rolls of paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, wall paper, etc would be covered with novels and short stories that nobody would bother reading, except for the one or two die hards, and they would be locked up as soon as the authorities discovered their radical behavior.

Since you'd barely be able to give it away, it'd be even cheaper than the plain, design-free, equivalent paper product.

The world would be plunged into a literary dark age, until the aliens came...

They always show up sooner or later in the Outer Limits.