Sargassum, as seen here in the curl of the wave, drifts ashore when the winds are steady, rolling into massive piles along the littoral zone, crucial for the ecology of barrier islands. Is it coincidence or by grand design that it is washing ashore during a super moon, when the highest of tides will push it further up onto the beach, trapping the sand with it to build up our dunes? Here in FL, there is a strong conservation not to clean this up as other states do for the benefit of tourism. A mistake. Some folks see this as an annoyance, their tender virgin feet having to touch it on their way to the water.
But Sargassum serves such an important role in the nurturing of juvenile species of marine life, some who will spend their entire lifecycle within the floating mass known as the Sargassum Sea. Sargassum is one of my favorite seaweeds in the class Phaeophyceae. In fact, my upcoming novel, Silversides, has most of the characters named after a class of macroalgae: Phaedra, Rhodes, Kora, Cody and my protagonist, Nori. Kulcin (main antagonist) on the other hand comes from a previous work, From Europa With Love, and what an antagonist he is. Of all the characters, he refuses to let me write his dialogue. Stuborn….
Writers are taught, “Write about what you know.” But Sargassum? It does not always need to be a subject matter that you are an expert in. What it does require is for you to connect with your story in terms that you are an expert in. In my case, once I named my characters after classes of seaweed, I was able to connect with those characters like never before and my story came to life.
EEven if you are not a writer, this is perhaps one of the most inspirational TED Talks I have ever watched (Anne Madden). It should make you think, something our media is trying to suppress.
I encourage every writer of sci-fi to watch and absorb. Listen and let your creativity loose, let it be the muse over your shoulder, pushing you to write that sci-fi great. I have, with my previous novellas (November Seedand From Europa With Love), both works inspired by my own research, as a former Marine Biologist, and having absorbed snippets from TED, Wired, Space.com, ZME Science or from posts by my fellow G+’ers (you guys and gals rock!)
Anne’s talk is bursting with hard sci-fi nibbles for a writer, such as: ‘A human devised solution‘ or ‘vaccinations for fear‘ or ‘beer made from wasps‘, her concepts come rapidly and I had to watch this talk a couple of times, hitting pause often to write down some ideas in my file, Book Of Ideas (every writer needs a file like this).
Finding ideas to write about is simple: The real universe exists within itself, as you will hear, but every writer of sci-fi, including myself, feels trapped sometimes, that every sci-fi plot has already been written. Maybe this is why we are seeing iteration after iteration of the same thing; just how many alien species can there be who has one primary objective and that is to kick Humanity’s ass? To break out of this monocular view, Anne says one thing that can turn us from this view: ‘Most of the life around us remains unknown‘ I love this statement. It is the one statement a writer of sci-fi should strip away and use as a mantra and be that break-away writer, typing out the next best seller.
Some of my own ideas that came from listening to this talk:
- Anne states, ‘One cell is not a powerful alchemist,’ but a Novemdecillion (10 to the 60th) of them working together, are. Using the immortal template of Don LaFontaine, “In A World, under the dictatorship of a government controlled bacteria, where the true thought police of humanity, live within…” Think of what your protagonist could do against that?
- What about a lab geek on a spinner (space station) who the crew loves and adores, because he or she can make exotic flavored beers from bacteria found on alien worlds, to break the monotony of their long hauls through space. But the beer that tastes like the finest wine, a silky smooth texture has hidden attributes (which I will leave it up to you what those attributes are… think along Anne’s line of, unknown.).
- Or about a military deep-ops team on a planet, whose adversary is so ruthless that it strikes fear into even the most insane, psychotic, toughest bad-asses Earth could produce, but taking a mere pill that ‘vaccinates against fear’, albeit for only 1/2 hour, allows them to proceed. This is enough for you to create a scene so nerve-racking for your reader, because time is running out for a few due to someone losing the bottle of pills ……
- In my current work in progress (Silversides), I dropped in a subplot (inspired by a TED Talk) of the backstory of my protagonist’s mother, Haruka Matsui, who plays a minor introductory part and who created a medical breakthrough, bioSketchers, for humanity’s final halt of natural selection, where controlling one’s DNA is just a cocktail away. My concept for this backstory has it’s roots in a TED talk, where the researcher was racing toward a final one-two punch of curing aids… But what if something we are on the cusp of eradicating is also the key that unlocks everything (aka, bioSketchers)? Although this is a very small chapter in Silversides, I know I’m coming back to it, where Haruka’s story and the story of bioSketchers will be told.
Originally reported by The Sun, Researches picked up an alien sound while their hydrophone was over the Mariana Trench. Although whale like in nature, it does not quite fit the patterns of what researchers already know. To listen to this sound, Click here. Initially, they thought it might be a mating call from whales, but they are thrown off by hearing this sound year round.
There was a follow-up piece on Wired,
which seems to indicate it is a Baleen Whale…. but the article does end with… “more data needed….. ”
It does make for good Sci-Fi, especially now that I have been working on a treatment called HUM, which is about an alien life-form that was attracted to Earth by its sound. Yes, yes, I know… sound does not travel through space… but other signals do and who is to say what wavelengths aliens can hear.
My guess is that every writer of sci-fi has his or her special picking fields for ideas. One that I often go to is, ZME Science with their tag line: not exactly rocket science. I love this site for the richness of articles that cover everything from social to biological to astronomical and every thing between. There are so many great ideas out on the Internet to seed the mind of a sci-fi writer.
Here is an example and one that is quite interesting and quite resourceful on the part of the researchers; why make the machine that spins the thread, when it already exits. My hat is off to Yingying Zhang and her colleagues at Tsinghua University on this one.
So it got me thinking. I will use this concept in one of my works in progress titled, HUM
It’s about a former nuclear physicist who was fired from the Los Alamos Labs and is now on a federal watch list. He appeases a local barfly by following him to a cave where the barfly claims to have discovered a new species of bat. But what the barfly has discovered is not from Earth, setting the physicist on a crazy plan to save the planet from a hostile alien invasion, a plan no one is willing to listen to and one that will surely get him killed by the FBI, if he’s lucky…. for dying at the hands of the aliens would be ever lasting.
As hideous as I have already imagined my aliens, adding in the concept that they now have access to new materials has spurred my imagination to make my aliens even more horrifying.
13.8 billion years ago, at the onset of the Bing-Bang, primordial micro black holes the size of the period at the end of this sentence, may have formed. Assuming that is true, then they are like cosmic bullets boring a hole through the fabric of time, passing through anything and everything in their path. It’s a game of Galactic Roulette.
The original article can be found here: Miniature black holes may be hitting Earth once every 1,000 years
But stop, here. This is where it turns into Science Fiction. So as a writer of Sci-Fi, I look for articles like this and think about how to form a storyline from it and came up with a few possibilities.
- Now or Never: The new doomsday weapon that no one has ever used and the protagonists/antagonists are locked in a political battle at a time when they actually need to use one. I will leave the outcome to you.
- B train: Luke Killian was on his way to work, traveling downtown on the B Train in NYC when a micro black hole rode the track, taking the car and his fellow passengers with him. Where they were dropped off I will leave it up to you.
- Whirl: (Hands off everyone…. this one I’m keeping for my own) A stubborn, slow-moving micro-black hole gets lodged in the ocean, just off of Atlantic City. A permanent whirlpool becomes an attraction and business opportunity for those with foresight that not even the Donald thought of. Blinded by greed, the consequences were not taken into account… the whirlpool is moving slowly toward shore.
- Flush: Escaping from a maximum security colony on Xylon, through a micro black hole, the alien was deposited on Earth.
Now get writing everyone…….
When I left Corporate America to become a writer, I had received some excellent advice from a partner at the firm I was employed by. He had shared with me his most guarded resource for good writing, one that he kept closely by his side, one that he often referred to while writing a legal brief – Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses, by Mark Twain.
Upon leaving his corner office that day, he warned me. “Download it. Read it on your commute,” he said with a thin smile. “But be warned,” he added, “you will laugh out loud.”
He was right on both accounts. This is a brilliant piece of writing. Not only is this laugh out loud reading, it delivers so many important rules for a writer to follow. One of my favorite things to do is pump this piece through the persona of my IVONA text-to-speech engine, Amy–in her stoic British accent–who gets me to laugh while serving as my muse.
Below is an excerpt from Mark Twain’s observations of Fenimore Cooper’s work.
“There are nineteen rules governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction — some say twenty-two. In “Deerslayer,” Cooper violated eighteen of them. These eighteen require:”
Here is my favorite from that list:
10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the “Deerslayer” tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.
Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences, by Mark Twain
What a perfect title for a Sci-fi… “The Great Filter”
On a research note, this topic is what drives us to explore. Has any species of the universe ever punched a hole through The Great Filter? Is the Great Filter a stopgap for us… for any species preventing us/them from infecting the cosmos? I recently read a novelette by Rann Murray called, Ascension. In this hard sci-fi, Murray hits upon this exact topic; that maybe the stopgap is in of itself a living entity.
Here is a good TED Talk about The Great Filter.
More on this topic of The Great Filter
I am always looking for ways to become a better writer, through immersion, and this is a perfect example. I have been surfing my entire life, so I have first-hand experience with this feeling, but I can see this tech being used in so many ways, for so many things that I have no experience with. How cool would it be to space-walk?
This was a two wheel Gyro car. A 1954 Ford Gyron, dreamed up by futurist Sydney Mead, who later went on to work with major studios on such films as: as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Timecop, Johnny Mnemonic and Mission: Impossible III. (wiki)
I have said this often, but the 1950’s was a time of forward thinking, people looking out through the windshield instead of the rear view mirror.
So get out there and write, writer’s of Sci-Fi! Let’s lay off the dystopian past and get back to designing for the future…. But please don’t cancel the Walking Dead series…… LOL