There is a second issue—although less prevalent—that pops up in a few reviews about Sleeper’s Run. The issue is violence; gore specifically. I’m a martial artist; I’ve had training with knives and guns as well. The more I know about these things, the less I want to get in trouble or be in a situation where I have to use any of these skills. So when I write about them, we go back to issues of honesty and responsibility. You think knife fighting is cool? Why don’t you see a couple of pictures of knife attack victims? Then lets see how cool you think it is.
A car chase in a movie has no innocent victims, and a shootout on TV only affects those involved; the bad guys seem to be the only corpses. Further, vicious hand-to-hand moves in a video game make your opponents disappear. If you have read Sleeper’s Run, then you know that’s not the case.
Now, I’m not one of those who blame the entertainment industry for society’s violence. I don’t believe that. I grew up with it, but I’m also an adult and I’m marginally educated in the truth about violence. I understand the difference between fiction and reality. I love to watch a good fight scene on film, but I’d walk away from any sign of trouble in my daily life. We can talk about the subjective aesthetics in violence, whether it is boxing, MMA, martial arts,hunting, football, hockey, bullfighting; take your pick. My philosophy when I wrote Sleeper’s Run was to be honest about it. One of the main themes in my novel deals with personal decisions.
There’s a price to be paid when unleashing violence, justified or not, and it may come in different shapes: legal, physical, psychological, etc. In my opinion, it should never be treated casually, even in fiction. You may think that portraying violence realistically is in poor taste. I believe its idealization is irresponsible and a terrible mistake. Like one of my gun instructors said, “Once you press that trigger, you cannot take that bullet back.”
Keep on running!