Where Do Sci-Fi Writers Get Their Ideas? Part II

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.

Silkworms spin super silk after eating carbon nanotubes and graphene


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.

Are micro black holes the next-gen nuke, business opportunity or transport system?

Miniature_black_holes13.8 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.

  • DoomsDayNow 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.
  • BTrainB 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.
  • whirlpoolWhirl: (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.
  • FlushFlush:  Escaping from a maximum security colony on Xylon, through a micro black hole, the alien was deposited on Earth.

Now get writing everyone…….

Are you an Aspiring Writer? Read This.

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

The Great Filter

What a perfect title for a Sci-fi… “The Great Filter”

TheGreatFilterOn 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


Immersion – The action of immersing someone or something in a liquid.

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?

The Future was and can be.

ford-gyronThis 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

Where Do Sci-Fi Writers Get Their Ideas? Part I


I was chill’n at one of my favorite places tucked away in Port Salerno, FL called the Grove Dock Bar & Cafe.  In fact, this exact longitude and latitude was the inspiration for the sequel to my upcoming sci-fi (Silversides) and where Chapter one starts in the year 2026.  This place is a BYOF (bring your own Food)… You provide the food, they provide the drinks.  Kind of tells ya how local and tucked away it is.GroveBar_2

A place where the view and ambiance normalizes the playing field for people of all social and economic circles– where at the end of the day we’re just people of the same planet all enjoying the same thing… a great conversation surrounded by simplest of things.

GroveBar_3I had brought an artist friend here for the first time last year and he fell in love with it, although, he sat down right in front of the mermaid holding up the roof and when he looked up he laughed, then said, “Kind of intimidating.”  He was 80 at the time but still managed to jump over the door into my ’62 Austin Healey Sprite when I picked him up. He scared the shit out of me, “Guy! Whoa… what are you doing?  I can’t even do that.”


I always wanted to do that,” he smiled.  “Promise we can come back.”    When this el Niño takes a break and it warms up in southern FL, I will fulfill that promise to Guy.

So what inspires me for a story line?  I suppose the simplest of things.  For Silversides, it was this bar.  I came home one day and pounded out a complete chapter of what I thought it would be like here in 2026 with not a clue of what would follow. Five hundred pages later and 20 light years away, the first draft is done and editing is moving along nicely.  For November Seed, it was a common reed called Phragmites that launches all their seeds during the first cold snap in November. A private holiday for me.  Writing From Europa With Love, the inspiration was from a stunning image I saw on the internet of Jupiter’s moon Europa and a contest dare to write about it.  Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, you just need to look deep enough for it and not skim the surface.  When I hear writers say, ‘don’t know what to write about’, that drives me crazy.  I have five novels started with five more ideas waiting after that.

Here is a perfect example of something anyone can write about.  Watch this fantastic mini-documentary and learn what inspired the creator.  Then transport yourself to some remote outpost on a dust-blown rock of a moon where intra-stellar wars were fought and the moon was declared too dangerous for humans to colonize because of undocumented arsenals left behind.   And your protagonist finds herself here, clearing a plot for she and her fusion powered robotic dog to spend the only remaining time she has left.  In a place no one will come looking for her, and if they do, only she knows where all the nasty stuff lies.










The difference between G+ and other social sites.

20160110_110557-1Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people, who do not know what G+ is about, asking me, “So what’s the difference between G+ and say Facebook or Twitter?”
I tell them, “Well, on G+ I would post this image and my caption would say something like, ‘What better way to start a full day of editing than to have a little protein for my mind in the form of a soft-boiled egg, a little toast for the carbs to keep my fingers on the keyboard and a little coffee for the caffeine to kickstart the process.’  and then I would end my post with a curiosity to the field, “What rituals do my fellow writers have?”
After that, I pause and let that sink in…
“Yeah, but you haven’t told me what the difference is?” they ask.
“Oh… yeah… On Facebook or Twitter, I would most likely split this up into two posts.
The First caption would say, 9:00 AM.  Cook egg.
The second post would then say, 9:03 AM.  Eat egg.”
…  Sarcasm aside, I feel the main difference is that G+ is a two-way conduit, whereas the other sites are social billboards for you to drive by, read, and choose to hit a Like button or not. This is not to say other sites are inferior to G+, it’s just that they serve a different purpose and I rely on all of them for what they are.
All that said, what rituals do my fellow writers take up to start their marathon writing/editing sessions”

The Lowline – An underground park and lab for hard sci-fi writing.


“The Lowline is a plan to use innovative solar technology to illuminate an historic trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of New York City. Our vision is a stunning underground park, providing a beautiful respite and a cultural attraction in one of the world’s most dense, exciting urban environments.” Lowline project
How fitting a name in answer to the already popular High Line of NYC.



I have been an early supporter of the Lowline and finally donning my Kickstarter Tee shirt, I had the opportunity to visit the Lowline Lab down on Delancey & Essex.  As I emerged from subway and walked the streets of this lower east side, it was not hard to imagine what the city must have been like years ago in this lost quadrant of time, with its polished grit and scattered markets of low rise buildings.   I must admit, as a NY’er, we tend not to travel much from quadrant to quadrant–my own being Hell’s Kitchen.  In a peculiar way, NY’ers mimic so many of the dystopian sci-fi societies we read about, siloed into self-contained communities reminiscent of Hugh Howey’s Wool series.

LowLineIf you are not careful, you will breeze by the lab’s opening with its undressed foyer of concrete floors, black curtains and little else.  I was greeted by a smiling volunteer handing out cookies and eagerly willing to answer questions about this fantastic project.   There is a collection jar for donations, cool Lowiine stickers for my already crowed MacBook cover and pamphlets of the project.   Then it was time to follow the exhibit where you step behind a curtain and read a few stationary billboards about the history of the site, the project, designers… and yes… contributors 😉  LowLine_Supporter



The technology is fantastically simple yet highly complex and elegant.  It concentrates the light from above and shoots it down tubes where reflectors receive and disperse the light onto ceiling tiles that seem to be as organic as the plants they feed.

LowLine_CeilingPortDon’t try to look into the light source from above–it is blinding and more powerful than any spotlight I have ever seen; so bright it seems powered in this dark space.  Click on the image to the right for a better look as it enters from the ceiling. I was amazed at how much light showered onto the lab exhibit from one source.  IMG_1178This technology should be used in every building in NYC.  For about the first ten minutes, I observed the technology.  It was as beautiful as it was technical, making sure to diffuse the light evenly yet spot certain areas to accent and showcase the living lab, making it easy to forget that these plants have not seen the outside in almost a year.


For about the next half hour, I enjoyed the exhibit, studying the plant varietals and the design of cascading layers of plywood adorned with mosses, bromeliads, Rattlesnake plants, stick plants, etc.   During the second round of the LowLine_HangingPlantsKickstarter campaign, my contribution awarded me the opportunity to pick a plant LowLine_Display(Rattlesnake plant) and give it a name–which I chose Nori, after my protagonist in an upcoming sci-fi novel called Silversides.  Eventually, I will get to pick where in the lab and where in the finished Lowline underground park, Nori will take up permanent residence.  I found this a IMG_1180bit ironic because my protagonist, Nori, was named after a seaweed and for my love of Phycology–study of seaweed– as a former marine biologist.  However, the snakeplant was so beautiful and does reflect a slight attribute of my protagonist.  I am looking forward to one day seeing Nori in the Lowline Park of NYC.
It was easy to get lost in thought and during my visit, something very profound hit me.  As a writer of hard sci-fi, what better a place to study the technology of living under artificial means?  I thought back to all the novels I have read, where societies lived under ground or were tucked away in star ships for generations in space, but very few of those stories ever really brought out the true mechanics of living away from natural light.  Sure, the locals are described beautifully but most of the feeling I got as a reader was the longing for being back in natural light.
Standing in the Lowline Lab provided me with a real-life experience I would not have received otherwise.   I stood there with my arm outstretched into the splash of light, it was cooler than I thought it would have been and the earthiness of the air around me was absent.  Yet when I looked up into the main source of light coming through the ceiling, it was blinding and the thought of reaching into that beam projected images of my hand being vaporized.  That’s when I felt the tap on my shoulder, “It’s time to leave,” she said.  “Come on… let’s go outside…”
I am going to suggest to the Lowline they set up some WiFi, power strips and writing nooks for writers in the Lab/Park.  I will see if there is any equipment I can donate from a few companies I know.  This is and will be a working lab for not only the project of the Lowline, but for any hard sci-fi writer.  Try and get to the Lab before March and Don’t miss this opportunity to get involved in this project–it is truly fantastic.
Click here to donate.  It is free to enter the exhibit and well worth the trip.  While down in this area, visit the Essex Market for some fantastic eats.

140 Essex Street
(between Rivington and Stanton Streets)
Lower East Side – New York City
Subway: J/M/F Essex Delancey Street

Saturday and Sunday
11am – 5pm
Free and Open to the Public
October 2015- March 2016

Why everyone should write a novel in their lifetime – it is the key to a greater understanding.

Video Insert: CRISPR-Cas9

Images by B. Kliban

BusinessOnParadeFour years ago, I needed an exit strategy from Corporate America.  I had entered my career as a Marine Biologist and for the last 25+ years I was in NYC, as an Information Technology professional.   I enjoyed these careers, immensely, but after the tech bubble, IT in Corporate America–for me–seemed to have lost its way; a business man’s parade of sorts.  It stripped the creativity from my soul by being too focused on the bottom line.  We were no longer inventing anything new and people became a cog in the wheel.  That is also when Corporate America changed the name of their HR departments to, Human Capital Management … hmmm …humans as capital….

kliban_sortingBetween my schooling and life experience, I had acquired all this wonderful base knowledge in my head and the pieces began to fit together, like strands of DNA… but I didn’t know how to express this wonderment to others…  until my neighbor, Diana, in apartment 12 K came over and said, “I’m going to kick your ass until you write a sci-fi… that’s what you should be doing!”.    I did not want to mess with a fellow NY’er like Diana… so I started writing….

She was right… It’s what I wanted to do… but the adage, Fear of success fear of failure,  glued my fingers to the keyboard. I had tried my hand at writing once before but after several thousand words and re-reading it, I realized having a story and having the ability to tell that story is like splicing DNA…. it is tricky and difficult at its best.  It was like looking at a painting or reading a passage in a book and then setting out to replicate that beauty… yikes!… Stick figures and lots of eyes looking at or toward something or someone else’s eyes… and that was just chapter one!  LOL

kliban-glasses1_zpsaf1cc45cSo that’s where G+ came in.  It opened my eyes and uncurled my fingers to write and publish. Funny thing is, not many people seem to know G+ exists or what it is, yet everyone seems to have a g-mail account.

So I dipped into the sci-fi writers community and quickly HideInAPlacedrealized I was in a place with a lot of the same things, hoping I would fit in.  My first post was a bit unnerving.  The first person I ever followed was Blair Jackson (now Blair Casey).  To get me up and running, I emulated what Jillian Ashe was up to–she can write and run this maze like Algernon and I owe a lot of my early success to her and other G+’ers.  It would be a lengthy list of thanks to those who influenced and encouraged me to write (Kyle Pollard), or who I learned from, who I wanted to emulate (Hugh Howey), who I could bounce ideas off of or collaborate with (Richard Murray) or who I could help edit or provide feedback to.  So in lieu of naming several hundred supreme influences, all you need to do is look at those I follow; they are my teachers, mentors, muses and friends… yes friends I have never met in person but seem to know very well.  Thank God for Google Translate Morgana C. .. LOL… I love your posts as crazy and intelligent as they are.

Fast forward.  After listening, and taking the advice of the many gifted and successful writers in my G+ communities, I just started writing, not focusing on the grammar, the cadence, or structure. I just kept writing.  I remember joining my first Google Hang out session where an author was stating it was more important to write than to worry about what you are writing about.  At the time that seemed absurd, but it turns out it was the best advice I followed. It took about a year and a half of constant writing to become fluent in this beautiful language of storytelling.

NOTE:  Words of advice… If you look back at your early work and don’t suck air over your lower teeth because of that writing… then keep writing… you are not there yet.

So what’s the point of this post?  What’s with the title and why the gene manipulation video insert?

kliban25smWriting a novel has taught me how to connect everything I have ever learned to come up with new ideas, concepts and even theories.  Barry Commoner was so right in his number one law of Ecology, that ‘Everything is connected to everything else. Writing has taught me to take piece [A] and connect that to piece [B] to make piece [C].  No longer am I intimidated by technologies or ideas beyond my learning.  Writing a novel is more taxing than writing a thesis or research paper, where one sets out a methodology to reach a conclusion.   I have learned much about quantum theory, space travel, bioengineering, astrophysics and physiology.  Writing a sci-fi novel has forced me to think about what alternative societies and religions might look like because I had to throw out everything I knew and take the Necker Cube approach to new thinking.  I now have plausible theories of my own and can argue that writing has made me smarter than my peers in IT, because writing sci-fii is about trailblazing in the future of technology.  The writer is not stopped because the technology does not exist–we invent what is needed to keep our protagonist moving forward.  But to do that, we need to extrapolate from where we were.  I have seen the ideas and concepts expressed in my writings come to fruition by others in the real world.  I am not claiming my ideas have led others to their discoveries; what I am saying is that I came to the same conclusion, independently and slightly before I saw an application of it.  As a writer of sci-fi…. well… that’s simply awesome and exactly where I want to be–surfing the face of that wave and not sitting in the spray back behind it.

CRISPR_Cas9 I can now watch this video of the CRISPR-Cas9 and say…. “Yeah… I understand this,” and will then modify this process for my protagonist to support their use of a bioSketcher to transmit and modify DNA-mods, accordingly, so they can slip into the population of an exoplanet, unnoticed….



If you want to see more of B. Kliban’s work, start with Whack Your Porcupine