The Storyteller Reports: A Great Idea and A Storytelling Legend

Happy Wednesday. You’ve made it through half of the week. You deserve this. Enjoy! I hit across the subject for the Rant of the Week just half an hour, and I am positively thrilled by it!

RANT OF THE WEEK: Could Science Fiction Impact More Than Fiction?

We’re going across the pond for this. I was hunting for news about storytelling, and after the deluge of headlines about reality stars writing bad books, I found an article in The Telegraph about science fiction television being a way to rectify Britain’s lack of scientists, written by Adrian Hon.

This American was intrigued. He read the whole thing, and decided that he was even more intrigued. My country has similar problems with science. Children in public schools across my nation can’t keep up with other nations in math and science test scores. It’s been a source of public debate and embarrassment for years. Nobody seems to have realized that before we get a solution, we need a serious definition of “education”, but that’s for another post.

For now, let me say this. I believe that Mr. Hon makes a brilliant point. In essence, he says that sci-fi shows like Star Trek and Doctor Who are the perfect inspiration for encouraging new scientists, just as the Apollo moon missions inspired kids in the 1960s.

Of course he’s right! Storytelling is a powerful thing. Plato despised it, but even he acknowledged that poetry has a powerful effect on people. It is one of thebest ways to convey the meaning of things. Why do you think myths and propaganda are so powerful?

I am in no way supporting propaganda. But I second Mr. Hon in saying that original, compelling sci-fi stories will get kids’ attention. If kids get hooked on it, at least a few of them must find interest in science. I’m an English undergraduate, myself, but unlike Nathaniel Hawthorne I have profound respect for science and its contributions to our race.

To understand the workings of the world is a noble thing. I hope this idea takes fruit, and manifests in more quality sci-fi both in America and England. Not violent fare like Fringe, but something more acceptable (and just as exciting). It just might light a spark in some student that hundreds of hours of dry, stale classes have failed to provide.

STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK: John Milton

The man you are about to meet might be the most awesome poet of all time.

Say hello to John Milton.

When I first learned about this man in my British Literature class, I was flabbergasted. First off, this guy put undergraduates like me to shame. As a young man, he not only learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew, but wrote poetry in all three languages. He loved Homer, Virgil and Edmund Spenser, and he followed Virgil’s path of writing pastoral poetry (happy, idyllic descriptions) and then moving on to epic poetry.

Johnny Boy was ambitious. He started looking for a suitable subject for an epic poem decidated to England, his native country. He looked at King Arthur, but Spenser touches on that in Book I of The Faerie Queene. So Milton looked for something else.

In the end, he picked the Fall of Man. He went through the rise of Cromwell and all the turmoil that went with it; it’s curious that after all that, he started writing his most famous work, Paradise Lost. I read it, and it’s amazing. His Satan is one of the most fasicnating characters I’ve ever met.

One more little tidbit. Milton wrote the whole poem in his head. I forgot to tell you he was blind when he wrote Paradise Lost. Well, he did up the whole thing and dictated it to friends. Then he revised it (IN HIS HEAD!) to fit a 12-book format for a proper epic poem.

Wow. This storyteller is my hero and my role model. Please salute him this day, and if you ever feel like storytelling is hard work… think of him.

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