Research in Fiction is a Crucial Ingredient

Dear Subscriber,

If you read my fiction, then you understand that I enjoy using science as a way to explore cultural and political differences in the modern era. One very good example is my horror story Bug Motel (free copy), in which the rogue geneticist uses his technological skills to get revenge on a conservative group that wants to take the law into its own hands for diabolical reasons.

Other novel examples are the fourth and fifth mysteries in my Portia of the Pacific series The Angel’s Trumpet and Dark Justice. In the first mystery, the drug used by the villains and its religion are both important clues to solve the mystery. In the second mystery, the pseudoscience of acupuncture, as practiced by the Chinese immigrant, and the “skinwalker” myth of the Southwest native tribes also figure prominently in solving the case.

Devil Weed, Loco Weed, or Sacred Datura?

Sacret Datura

Interesting cultural differences with this single plant that’s variously termed “Sacred Datura,” “Jimson Weed,” “Devil’s Weed,” and “Loco Weed.”

It seems that because the invading Europeans became cattle ranchers, and fought with others to maintain their power, it was the First Nation peoples the colonists first wanted to overpower and control. Why? Because this Sacred Datura, when ingested by cattle and horses, made them sick and they sometimes died. Thus, there became a negative connotation and names given for the plant.

However, if one explores the entire world, in various cultural uses for thousands of years, you see a different picture entirely. Especially the Datura Stramonium species of the plant. I’m now writing a “horror story” about it, so I know it was also used to cure insanity, which is quite interesting for my purposes.

Just look at this list of uses in cultures for thousands of years. In addition, Datura Stramonium is not a controlled substance in the U.S.A., which means, hypothetically, an entrepreneur could use its properties to create pharmaceutical and commercial purposes.

Because of the prevalence of atropine in the leaves, it would serve very well in emergency use if/when we were attacked by nerve gas in a terrorist group, such as happened on the Japanese subway system sarin gas attack.

Therefore, I hope you recognize the research that goes into most of my work and that it’s not as easy as one might imagine to write fiction that probes deeply instead of simply “entertains.”

For example,if the culture of the U.S.A. keeps ignoring science and buys into the multitude of religious and fanatical groups that abound right now, we may soon begin to see major terrorist attacks like this one in 1995 Tokyo. This single group had over a billion dollars to work with, and its followers attacked the Tokyo subway with Nazi sarin gas.

The Nazis were a world power, I need not remind you, and they were fascists totalitarians who had their own fanatical beliefs. Any culture is a possible breeding ground for such fanatical thinking. In fact, I use the Nazis in my SciFi serial Auschwitz Dancer to serve as a warning to present-day folks.

Kind Regards,

James Musgrave

EMRE Publishing, San Diego

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