Friday, June 12, 2009

At Both Ends, by K. C. Ball

Here's a nice piece of flash fiction, At Both Ends, by K. C. Ball, that brings up an issue I've often wondered about. It's flash, it's short, you might want to read the whole thing before you read the rest of this post.

The story brings up the issue of power to help. It's an issue that we all face every day, but somehow we manage to ignore it. All of us could be working on saving someone's life, essentially, at any time. We don't spend most of our time on it. Probably the answer is as simple as getting through the day is tough enough for us that we don't have the energy to think of others.

When you think of someone like Superman, or any ridiculously powerful comics figure, it becomes a starker issue. If Superman stops to enjoy a hot dog, isn't someone somewhere dying because he's not there? It'd be enough to drive you crazy, and the excellent comic Astro City brought the issue up in exactly that way, describing two characters, one who chooses to use powers by applying a help-the-most, most efficiently, rule, and another who chooses to help women preferentially. This was addressed in the very first Astro City story.

But the crushing thing about these ideas, for me, is that, really, anytime I'm sitting around watching TV...I could be feeding the homeless. Or something. We all have the power to do more. How do you you decide when you've done enough? Clearly, this is a problem for some people.

But for most of us, plenty of healthy selfishness prevents this from even becoming an issue. I can't say this idea bothers me all that often. But I spend plenty of time thinking about super powers. I think if I had actual powers I'd use them in pretty selfish ways, much more as they are portrayed in The Fermata than anything else.

The Fermata is an excellent book about a fellow who discovers he has an odd and unreliable power to stop time. He never does much with it. But it's an interesting story all the same.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:43 AM

    Thanks for the link, Aaron. I'm pleased you liked the story.