I know what county you are from

I know what county you are from….

My moniker for Science Fiction writers has always been, “Science Fiction Is Fact That Just Hasn’t Happened Yet.”  Big deal… So what….  Anyone with a brain can see that….

Sure, easy peasy at the hundred-thousand-foot view. But can you see it at the ten thousand foot view?  How about the thousand-foot view?

Here is a how the mind of Sci-Fi writer works, these days.  I can’t speak for Jules Verne, but he probably got his idea for, “Five Weeks In A Balloon,” (1863) from the newspapers.

The current (Centralized) climate of the globe as well as the US is no different than it was, well… forever ago.  It is a cycle almost as predictable as the phases of the moon.  Anyone who thinks that current world events or they themselves are unique, in any way, well, sorry to say… Events and we are as repetitive as ephyra and medusa.  You just might be moving too quickly or trying too hard to express a different phenotype to take notice.

As writers of Science Fiction, we look at the state of society, reading posts on social media, taking in streams of news from around the world, looking for that needle in the haystack.  It might be a newly coined word, a topic picked out from many on LinkedIn or a concept on TED Talk, etc. (I can’t tell you how invaluable the outstanding minds these sites have been to me).  Think of us as pathologists of future trend using the learning of our careers to amplify the story about to be told.

Example:  This election cycle is no different from elections of past.   What is different is the weaponized use of digital media leading us to believe that every citizen of this country has taken a side of good vs. evil and depending upon perspective, difficult to see which is which.   At the end of the day it is like arguing over which exists: yes vs. no.   Add to that the COVID-19 umbrella and isolation––There is that needle in the haystack!

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I have been on my own for too long and will need a new pair of treads within the next day or two–– the sand is beginning to share the same space as my code.   Up ahead the ragged open spaces are giving way to contoured tracks of selective growth I assume is for sustainability of humans; something I have not seen in awhile, something I have been trying to avoid.  The last interacting population was not very receptive; I just can’t imagine what they are doing my right arm?  Maybe a display… maybe mounted on a wall next to other field working tools… who knows?

A ping sets off the flip of nanoTILES for me to take on the colors and patterns that surround me as I bow below the tips of C5 wheat.  Two females: one young adult, one child, enter the track on the opposite side, playful, turning and brushing aside the stalks, their soft laughs carried my way.  A scan of the area indicates these two are alone.  Their clothing is layered and flowing, brown and beige and white, their material organic in fabrication. Their style seems indicative to the South East, which gives me an idea of where I am; my GPS useless to me since BIGDATA-50.  Their flat low collars, fluted sleeves, plus the chemical sampling in the air narrows my scope to either the Highlands or Glades in South Central FL., but it is the length, cut, color and pattern of their under-clothing that tells me they are from the Glades. 

“I know what county you are from,” I say, rising above the stalks.  The child points and they head toward me as they would a fawn; comforts knowing I can take a virtual breathe.

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It’s not far fetched to think that our societal trend, brought upon us by isolation and paranoia, could soon lead us to micro-sustainability:  All things manufactured, grown, consumed, traded, bought, sold, fashioned, followed, aligned can exist is a relatively small cluster (County).  It’s how society evolved and will DEVO, then repeat.

Everything is cyclic.  Everything.  As a former Marine Biologist, evidence of this is meandering and overlong (Pangaea).  It was during my thirty-five year career as an IT professional that I have seen a clearly defined pattern of it:  Mainframes (Centralized). TTY terminals (Decentralized), distributed servers (Centralized), Personal devices (Decentralized), Clouds (Centralized), Apps, (Decentralized) and so on and so on.  All seemingly unique but cyclic.

The weaponization of digital media and the pandemic are catalysts of change; a point in which society adjusts to the rules of the Economy Of Nature (Ricklefs)

I can easily see communities springing up, less travelled and more sustainable, which will dictate how these communities look, feel, act, think and breath ideas (Decentralized). 

Sci-Fi Rules the Stream

One silver lining to this pandemic has been a lot of binge watching of Sci-Fi series , which I never made the time for: Altered Carbon (Netflix), DEVS (FX HULU), Electric Dreams (Amazon Prime). Then there are the foreign film SciFi series, which are sophisticated, beautifully cast and acted that they leave me acclimating afterwards: Omniscient (Netflix – Brazilian), Dark (Netflix – German), , Ad Vitam (NetFlix – French), Better Than People (Netflix – Russian), and Kiss Me First (Netflix – UK).

Altered Carbon (Richard K Morgan) was a great novel: inventive, strong and well defined characters, clever plot to the end, and felt like re-sleeving could easily happing in our future. But I found the read a little difficult due to the clever plot, concepts of re-sleeving (same character in multiple sleeves) and the first person narrative tripped me up as to who was who. But the novel was one of my all-time-favorites.

There are few screen versions that outshine their written origin but this is one of those screen versions that surpasses the written word. The series is brilliant, the casting awesome, but above all, the CGI brought to life some of the best depictions of future tech I have seen on the big screen. As a writer, I learned a lot from watching this series. Season 1 was extraordinary and followed the original book pretty closely. I could have stopped there. Season 2 was great, Season 3 less great. All in all, an ideal candidate for binge watching.

DEVS caught my eye because of the cast, most notably, Sonoya Mizuno, who played the part of Kyoko in Ex Machina, of which this series followed along the same rail of plot, but different enough to stand up on its own.

But then along comes, DARK (NETFLIX). First and foremost, this series must we watched in its original language (German) and subtitled if you do not know German. Please… Please do not watch the dubbed version. I needed the subtitles. I know, I know… I have friends who refuse to watch subtitled movies. The funny thing about subtitles is that it takes approximately five to seven minutes for your brain and eyes to adapt, just as it does to view a night sky. My friends who hate subtitled movies have one thing in common…. they bailed out before their mind and eyes could adapt. After ten minutes, you don’t realize you are reading anything, yet you understood everything said.

But be patient with this series. It took me six episodes to begin to understand what was happening, but I was not alone–the characters were as confused as I was. But what makes up for this confusion is the cinematography, the lives, relationships and emotions they are going through. At the root of the plot is Good vs. Evil (that is not a spoiler alert). What is new is that you don’t know which side is good or evil or are they both good or both evil or non of the above? And just as you think you have it all figured out… guess what? You say, WTF! This is a study of time travel to the Nth degree; each episode is a peel-back of concepts and then you begin to understand––

And then there is Ad Vitam (Netflix – French). Very French. With all French films, first comes imagery and facial expressions, then twists and turns where it leaves you thinking about the social imprint of the message. In this case, To live forever comes at a price. This is a thinking man’s Sci-Fi.

Patience is indeed a virtue.

Life is never more than an iteration– a series of fractal experiences where we jump from one era to another, seemingly different but always the same.Years ago, in NYC, during the end of the Koch administration when subway cars lacked AC and the lights constantly flickered, I was sitting near the door of a downtown #4 wearing a three-piece suit with a WSJ folded precisely into quarter panels— a lost art that no one seems to practice anymore. When you have traveled the underground for as many years as I have, you never need to look up to see where you are because the sounds along the route are as unique as the stations themselves. I could tell from the screeching and torquing of metal along the rails that we were approaching 14th Street and waited for the movable platforms to nudge their corroded teeth up against the cars and for the sleepy conductors to poke their heads through the windows, signaling to each other it was safe enough to open the doors. After the flush of commuters rushed in and out, an elderly blind gentleman, draped in a poncho, stepped in with an accordion and a sweeping cane fitted with a worn cup to catch loose change. As the doors wobbled shut and the train jerked into motion, he found his footing and squeezed air into his instrument. This was the third panhandler to come through and I was running low on change. What I thought was going to be yet another mariachi tune evaporated when he began to sing, his voice, not expected, angelic, almost tearful, floating above the simple chords the way a butterfly glides over a field of wildflowers. I put down the paper and listened, purposely missing my stop at Wall Street to hear him sing. The last stop in Manhattan had arrived and the doors were opening. As I waited for the last breath of air to be squeezed out of his accordion, I dropped some singles into his cup before birthing myself through the crushing doors at Bowling Green and onto the platform where the tang of ozone lingered in the stale air. I remained there, held in a trance with a feeling of love for everything, regretting not having asked the gentleman his name or the title of the song as I watched the last car with its tags of graffiti drift into the darkness beyond.For years it haunted me, my lunch hours spent frequenting the J&R music stores along Park Row, searching through stacks of LPs in the foreign language section, looking for Mexican folk singers while asking the staff if they could identify my comically mimicking cadence of the man’s voice. My persistence carried through the decades, the Internet era, conducting endless Google searches for that needle in a haystack. Even with all this technology at my fingertips, I had given up hope of ever finding it.Then the other night, Meredith and I were watching a movie she had picked out from Amazon Prime, “Big Night,” a 1996 release starring a cast headed up by Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Mini Driver and Isabella Rossellini to name a few. It was during the opening credits and listening to the music track when I felt the prick on my finger. There it was, the song which had haunted me for years began to play… in Italian and not Spanish. I grabbed my mobile and tapped on the Shazam App….. Bingo! “Stornelli Amorosi” by Claudio Villa. After researching everything there was to know about the song and singer, I now understand why that man on the train played this song and why it was chosen for the film. I have researched Claudio Villa (impressive), and what Stornelli Amorosi means: A ‘love stornelli’. A stornelli is the Italian precursor to a rap battle… yes…way before it was popularized during the hip hop era of the late 80’s, where singers would brag, boast and throw insults, each trying to outdo the other. Claudio’s love for this type is singing shines bright in his “Stornelli Amorosi.” Needless to say, it is now forever in my favorites.

We are nothing more than a blur

It is difficult for us… as humans.. to comprehend the notion that everything in this scene is in motion. To Mother Nature, we are moving way too fast for her to notice we ever existed, but it is in this valley, staring up at these magnificent cliffs we are in awe of our own existence.

My Love For Europa

There is no hiding the fact that Europa is my favorite object in the solar system–heck! It was the supporting protagonist in my novella, From Europa With Love (see excerpt below). As a former Marine Biologist, fascinated with life surrounding Earth’s deep sea vents, I had always thought that Europa was our greatest chance at finding extraterrestrial life in our solar system.

So when I read the article on Space.com “Heat gave Jupiter’s icy moon Europa layers. That may be good news for the search for life, I can’t help but feel excited by the possibilities.

Excerpt : From Europa With Love

He was regretting coming back here, “All I had to do was ignore the goddamn distress signal and I would be sitting in my bay right now, feet up, staring out the window with a GODDAMN TUMBLER OF ARDBEG IN MY HAND!”

Predictably, there was no response from Otto.

“Are you capable of praying Otto?” Kulcin goaded, not expecting a cognitive response from a machine. “Because if you are, then start praying.” he said, angling the nose of the shuttle upward. Firing a quick succession of bursts from the remaining FN2 thruster, he brought the craft down hard where it rocked forward onto its nose and came to an abrupt halt. Kulcin held his breath, knowing that if he could count to three he might be safe: one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two… then a sharp crack resonated throughout the hull, and the nose plunged beneath the ice as the shuttle listed forward, the water rushing furiously against the cockpit windows.

Ashes to Ash (Sir Ian Holm) R.I.P.

Sir Ian Holm (right)

My desire to write Sci-Fi was cemented in 1979, after seeing ALIEN. I had read about the making of this movie months before in OMNI Magazine, The movie alien was a first of many: A true Alien devoid of emotion; a first lifelike android (Ash). I thought Ash’s character was the perfect antagonist, who hid in the shadows of the Xenomorph. When it was discovered Ash was an Android, it blew the audience away–you could hear our collective gasps.

It was Ash’s character that I truly believe, future antagonists of all movie genres took flight from.

You will be missed Sir Ian Holm, but never forgotten.

POST SOMETHING AMAZING

I started to think of what I would like for my birthday and the first thing that came to mind was–– How about something amazing going on in the world! I mean each and every day there are some amazing things happening in every corner, every industry, every trade and facet of our lives….. yet we are being brainwashed to think that only terrible things are happening… everywhere. Think about how those who are doing amazing things feel–I mean we just launched two Astronauts to the ISS from the US for the first time in a decade. Like that’s not AMAZING!

Change the dialogue of social media and don’t get sucked into the vortex of sensationalism or fake news––