12 Rules for Life: A Science-Fiction Solution to Chaos

So inspired by (a 12 Rules list which was made by someone who hadn’t ever read much science fiction) and the fact that I occasionally remember this is supposed to be an SF book blog, here’s my science-fiction infused take on some of the things you can use to Make Sense of It All and survive.

Rule One: Never act incautiously when facing a small wrinkly bald smiling old man! (Pratchett)

Hokey religions and ancient prophecies are no match for a good blaster at your side. (Star Wars)

When in doubt, take off and nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. (Aliens)

– Learn the attitude of the knife–of chopping off what’s incomplete and saying ‘Now it’s complete, because it’s ended here.’ (Dune) Sometimes, you have to accept that things are the way they are and then move on. Preferably with speed, because there might be an air strike coming.

Good engineers build triple redundancy. (The Golden Oecumene) Civilization is notoriously fragile: a thin veneer of knowledge over a gaping abyss of ignorance and malice. Have backups. Backup your backups. Have a plan in place. Have a paper copy. Have the guns and the guts to enforce it, if you need to. And if you want to engrave it on stone, that works, too. Stone endures.

Do not call up that which you cannot put down. (Lovecraft, The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward.)

Beware of spaceships bearing gifts. In the best-case scenario, the gift is a veiled warning from powers beyond the ken of primitive man (The Day the Earth Stood Still). In the worst, your planet faces poisonous gifts that make the treachery of blankets innoculated with smallpox look like amateurish posturing. (King David’s Spaceship)

Make ye no truce with Adam-zad, the bear that walks like a man! (Kipling) Just because something looks human, doesn’t mean that it thinks, or acts, human. Don’t trust it.

If someone asks you for a cracker for their oontatherium…give it to them. (Poul Anderson: Turning Point.) Recognizing an existential threat is one thing. Responding to it appropriately is another. A non-violent and non-immediate threat is still a threat–it just requires a non-violent, immediate response. And if you can’t out-run them or out-do them, you can still out-think and out-breed them. Absorb them into the family and make them your own. You now have their strength on your side.

Evil is treating people like things–including yourself. (Pratchett)

Fuck subtle. (The Dresden Files) There is a time and a place to keep a low profile; there is a time and a place to speak softly. But there is also a time to kick down the door and put the big stick to its intended use.

All things strive. (Pratchett) Be good to bird and beast and your fellow man. They have a right to try, too.

Runners up:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” (Heinlein, Time Enough for Love)
When the need arises–and it does–you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don’t farm it out–that doesn’t make it nicer, it makes it worse. (Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.)
“You can’t trust anybody any further than you can throw them and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.” –Didactylos the Ephebian’s groundbreaking philosophical dictum, which summarizes the school of thoughts of the Cynics, the Stoics, and the Epicureans all in one. (Pratchett)
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face. (Dresden Files)

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