Tag Archives: free will

Episode 567: The Show Goes On

“Why, you –“

I was going to talk about free will today. I had it all planned out.

I’ve been reading up on determinism lately, and I’ve got a theory — you would’ve loved this theory, if I had the time to tell you about it — using the concept of a mad scientist as a metaphor to talk about whether moral choices are even possible, if mental phenomena are reducible to neurological materialism. Seriously, it would have blown your mind, literally and figuratively.

But that’s going to have to wait, because there’s a breaking news story that I need to cover: this is the episode where Roger Davis bumps his head.

Continue reading Episode 567: The Show Goes On

Episode 460: Eats, Shoots and Leaves

“I don’t know what lies beyond the grave… but I hope you will have some kind of peace.”

When we last left our undead psychopath hero, Barnabas Collins, he was walking into the Collinwood study, intent on murdering his old friend, Nathan Forbes. I forget exactly what brought this on, but it’s not like it matters. Sometimes you just decide to kill a guy.

But Nathan makes a plan of his own, grabbing a crossbow off the wall and shooting Barnabas as he enters the room. This is probably why you don’t see a lot of people hanging up decorative crossbows anymore.

Continue reading Episode 460: Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Episode 409: Spoilers

“Jeremiah is dead! Barnabas is here! The book is wrong!”

Every time travel story has to figure out the answer to the big question, the one that Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in A Christmas Carol. Confronted with a vision of a future where his own death inspires only joy and relief that he’s gone, Scrooge asks, “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

In Scrooge’s case, the answer turns out to be things that May be. He still has the opportunity to wake up on Christmas morning, buy the Cratchits a turkey, and change his fate.

Ray Bradbury’s seminal time travel story, “A Sound of Thunder”, adds a scary element of chaos-theory mischance — stepping on a butterfly in the prehistoric past produces subtle but devastating ripples in the present. Taking up the alternate position, Robert A. Heinlein’s story “By His Bootstraps” describes a circular timeline, where the time-traveler has to follow a path that he’s already seen his future self walk.

Every writer who tells a time travel story ends up taking a position somewhere on that continuum between “the things that Will be” and “the things that May be.”

Except for Dark Shadows, of course, which is being written at the last minute, during a hurricane, by lunatics who didn’t even realize they were writing a time travel story until it just kind of suddenly already happened.

Continue reading Episode 409: Spoilers

Episode 381: Runaway Bride

“I believe you can do anything — and the meaner it is, the better you can do it.”

So there we were, all set up for the big royal wedding — Barnabas, the young prince of the wealthy and powerful Collins family, marrying Josette du Prés, the ravishing heiress of the Martinique sugar plantations. Young and beautiful and desperately in love, embarking together on their life’s journey.

And then, at the last moment, the bride runs off with the groom’s uncle, which is pretty much the exact reason why you need to hire a competent wedding planner. Have we learned nothing from reality TV?

Continue reading Episode 381: Runaway Bride