Episode 499 - Life's worth?!

Oct 5, 2020

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.

Topics and Show Notes

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

Links
Life's worth thread - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/forum/topic/178520

Featured comic:
Raising Cain - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/sep/29/featured-comic-raising-cain/

Featured music:
Era of Iridore - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Era_of_Iridore/, by Deno 85, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

Remember to join us for Quackcast 500 on Saturday!!!
- https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/oct/04/quackcast-500-show-your-love-for-the-d/

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