The Really Big Idea: M. H. Mead
I was going to say something clever about the interesting essay that follows. But I am totally distracted by horror at the thought of rule 34 applied to this phrase:
Meaty Tiddlywinks. Once you recover please read this excellent essay:
Car crashes are scary. The auto companies spend millions every year trying to convince us that their cars are the safest, but we know better. We’ve watched too many movies that show us how easy it is for cars to shoot into the sky, roll over, and blow up. Thanks to YouTube and dashboard cameras, we can watch Stupid-People-Who-Are-Not-Us smashing into other cars left and right, rebounding from stationary objects, and blasting pedestrians into the air as if they were meaty tiddlywinks.
In films, the scariest crashes aren’t the ones we see from a distance, but rather the interior shots where gravity suddenly seems cancelled due to lack of payment and the view out the windshield stops making sense. When the passengers dangle from their safety restraints and their personal possessions begin the mid-air waltz of underwear in the tumble dryer, we have to cover our eyes.
If watching car crashes second hand is bad, the near-misses we’ve had are terrifying. Looking into a rear view mirror in anticipation of a rear-ending makes us feel helpless. The loss of control that we feel when the tires hit a patch of ice makes our hearts seize and our breathing stop. It’s probably the lack of control in general that is so unnerving; one likes to be the captain of one’s destiny, the pilot of one’s soul, the composer of one’s metaphor—and we don’t like when reality intrudes on that delightful illusion.
We both drive a lot, and almost all our trips take us on the highways around Detroit. We see the carnage of driving-gone-wrong every day. Maybe that’s why crashes scare us so. We know we’ll probably never be taken hostage by bank robbers or flee from a tsunami. But a car accident? Highly likely. In fact, they’ve already happened to both of us, and in Harry’s case, it was nearly fatal.
There are a lot of car crashes in Taking the Highway—terrifying collisions where the people don’t just have to worry about their own driving or the dubious skills of the other drivers, but about the very technology that is supposed to keep them safe.
In the fictional world of Taking the Highway, cars and highways work together to keep drivers safe. Overdrive technology—an artificial intelligence system—lines every highway in Detroit. Overdrive monitors the flow of traffic and sends override codes to cars to keep them from speeding, veering, or crashing.
That is, until things go horribly wrong. Someone is sabotaging Overdrive, confusing the sensors and causing horrific accidents. Is it somehow connected to the carpool laws, and the professional hitchhikers who are paid to fill cars? Or does it go deeper, into the sordid politics of Detroit itself? The only one who can stop the crashes is homicide detective Andre LaCroix, who has to arrest the culprits before becoming their next victim.
Writers are told to write what they know. But it’s more important that we write what scares us. And what scares us is car crashes. We hope it will also be what scares you, because cars of the future will be safer than ever—and will fail in ways we can only dream of.
M.H. Mead is the shared pen name of Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion. When not writing books together, they can be found at their homes in Michigan watching very bad television and eating key lime pie.
Buy Book: Taking the Highway