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QUACKCAST 499 - Life's worth?

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Oct. 6, 2020

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What is the worth of human life in your stories?
This isn't something people often consider, we just tend to have a fairly accurate guess based on our experience of the real world, but sometimes stories get it really wrong and that can harm suspension of disbelief.

A few prime examples are gritty SciFi stories, westerns, war stories, and hospital dramas.
The first three dramatically undervalue human life so it doesn't make logical sense within the world it depicts: In deep space human life would be extremely valuable because it's a rare and practically non-renewable resource. The only way that changes is when you run out of survival resources (air, water, food) or it's a life or death situation, a casual attitude to life though doesn't make sense. In the old west it was the same situation for other reasons, murderers would be tracked down for thousands of miles and across many decades, the only exception was native Americans who shamefully weren't considered people for all intents and purposes, even slaves had more value. In war stories, especially historical ones, typically soldiers have no real survival instinct or self worth, they're happy to always fight to the last and run headfirst to their deaths, which is silly since battles were usually won when one side broke and ran after only a few deaths. Full scale slaughter only happened rarely and that was usually when the fleeing side was caught or captured.

Finally, hospital dramas tend to overestimate the value of life, where all stops are pulled out to save people who society doesn't value and can't afford to pay for the expensive and experimental treatments (with hundreds of thousands dollars worth of care given to them), or people too sick or old are given care they'd never recover from.

There are a lot of complex factors that influence the value of life in a story actually (emotional attachment, status, class, caste, gender, religion, politics, scope etc), but it's important not to get it too badly wrong or your story won't work as well.

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Era of Iridore - Come through the sweeping tapestry curtains of copper and silicone, into the vast techno hall, past lords and ladies bedecked in flashing LEDs of many colours, knights fencing with glowing plasma blades, jesters toying with antigrav balls, and watch the minstrels play their laser harps and electric lutes!

Topics and shownotes

Life's worth thread -

Featured comic:
Raising Cain -

Featured music:
Era of Iridore -, by Deno 85, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Tantz Aerine -
Ozoneocean -
Banes -

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Ozoneocean at 6:11PM, Oct. 7, 2020

I like some aspects of Warhammer, but yeah, the deathtoll and cheapness of life is not one of them. They may have got the cost of life for their universe correct... sort off... which is just as depressing. It'd make more sense though if they were all in hell and the deaths aren't really deaths.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 4:08AM, Oct. 7, 2020

Great Quackcast about a very important topicπŸ‘ This is my problem with a grimdark fictional universe such as Warhammer 40k (I've never been a fan of the franchise, or its fantasy counterpart, but I have watched a lot of lore videos about it on YT). Where you have millions, if not billions, of common people in this dark science fantasy universe, industrial workers and so on, dying in planetary wars while working under the most horrible conditions. Human lifes are SO disposable in that universe that it becomes depressing and cheap. I feel like ordinary people in the warhammer 40k universe exist only to work themselves to death or getting brutally killed or getting possessed by space demons, and then get brutally killed, as a cheap way to create tension. I know that is what Grimdark is and does, and I know that Warhammer 40k bases its stories on the mechanics and story dynamics of a tabletop war game and that you have to factor that in, but that is why I can never be a fan of it.

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