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.

KAO

I recently watched an episode of Electric Dreams (Sci-fi shorts based on stories by Philip Dick) titled, “Kill All Others.” This episode was about a man hanging dead from a billboard while people walked by as if this were the ordinary–just typical shock marketing. But after ‘The Candidate’, a politician (Vera Farmiga), makes a shocking statement encouraging violence to Others, I found myself feeling a bit anxious because of its relevance to today’s current events. Now a lot of you who will watch this might say, “This is Trump!, the DNC, The NYT, CNN, Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, AntiFa, etc.

But take a deep breath…. It’s not about any of them….. It is about all of us….

This Scj-Fi short has something In common with my current work under wraps, I have a group of Earthlings on another planet referred to as The Others…. This episode has made me think about a few edits. Do I take it down the path of Philip Dick’s propensity to paranoia? Hmmm. I’m not sure I want to wander down too many of these paths because it fills my dreams with the same. And that did not turn out well for Philip Dick–God rest his tortured soul….

But this episode….. This episode was about us. About us being brainwashed by Media and Politics–keeping us focussed on the non-essential so those in charge can go on with their plans, battling each other out for power. You see… nothing has really changed since the days of Henry the VIIII, except today’s tactics are not as vicious. In the end there are those in the high castle and those that are not and those that are not never feel safe because they are so fearful of the amplified views being spread.

I was pulling for poor Philbert Noyce….. one of us………

The power required to read this post

There was an expression my father always used: “Nihil liberum est.” My dad was big on Latin, and it means, “Nothing Is Free.”  But if the attached video does not quite do the job and you need to understand what the cost of data might look like in a dark future, read the Sci-Fi trilogy by Peter Watts:  The Rifters Series.

The Rifters series (Starfish, Maelstrom, and βehemoth (which in itself was published in two parts: βehemoth: β-Max , βehemoth: Seppuku) became the catalyst to me becoming an author of Sci-Fi and getting the stories in my head down on digital paper.

The Rifters series underlines the cost of powering the internet, led by a powerful female protagonist, who, if Sci-Fi has a kick-ass water goddess, it is Lenie Clarke.   His character in this series inspired my latest work in progress, Silversides, with an equally strong female protagonist, Nori Matsui, an Exoplanet Marine Biologist.  

As an aside:  When I was living in NYC, searching the shelves of Sci-Fi in the NY Public Library, looking for my next read and stumbling across a paperback by Peter Wats called, Mealstrom, I later discovered it was the 2nd book of a series.  So after reading this page-turner, I went on-line to the NY Public Library system, tracked down books One and Three and had them delivered to my local branch.  Oddly, reading books One and Two out of order made no difference to me, so much so that I wrote to Peter Watts to tell him that.  However, his response to me was not what I expected–– he was a bit upset that I read book two first.   I had explained to him that I was a former Marine Biologist and that reading book One after book TWO was a real treat because book TWO takes place completely under water in the deep see vents of the Pacific.  Oh well…..  His work is brilliant.

 

 

 

A Picture Is Worth… Nothing….

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” was plagiarized and para-phrased after Henrik Johan Ibsen’s death in 1906.  Henrik was a playwright and director who once said; “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.” 

So it is fitting that I now say, the plagiarized and para-phrased version you know today has been hi-jacked.  I shouldn’t care, but this is so comically fractal it leaves me wondering about humanity.  What I am seeing on Social Media is disturbing, where a picture now takes well over a thousand words to correctly depict its intension… 

For example:  Here is a picture, I took, In Queens NY one day.  Yes, perfect timing… I just happened to be in the right place at the right time soaking in images on my phone when I came around a corner and saw a body sailing through the air…. HOLY CRAP! WHF!  Now…. If I let that image stand on its own and never showed you what happened  a 1/16th of a second before, well, you would be none the wiser.    

And this is my point.  This is the state of Social Media today.  

So before you post, repost, critique, or look for the result you are searching for…. Remember these images and question what might have happened a 1/16th of a second before or after.  Things are never what they appear.  Take the time and research what you repost.  Don’t just hit the green button—there is no reward…. Just shock…

The image of the falling man was taken at an outdoor fair, presented by the Museum Of Moving Images, Astoria, Queens, New York City.  If you have never been there—it is a must.

Reach over and just turn on that switch–you can do it….

Up to this point, we have been blinded by consumption because our global economy is based upon consumption. But the energy to maintain such a model is proving unsustainable. This virus underlines that zero growth is not the end — as this brilliant video presents it. Zero growth means that we are in equilibrium–it is a much better financial model because it follows how things in the natural world thrive The moment an organism begins to outpace this balance, it sets itself up for disaster; specialization in species is a clear path to extinction.

There is always casualty with change–it is built into the physical laws of the universe. So here we have a chance to make this change better than the thing before it.

Wouldn’t you rather live in a world like this? I do…

To my fellow Sci-Fi writers of Dystopia.... this video presents quite a beautiful twist to catastrophic events… doesn’t it? We have an opportunity to change the view…….

Stornelli Amorosi

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.

Today is the real event, known as November Seed

Quilted Sky November Seed

Phragmites : (Phrag – my – tease)

Every November, in the northeast, when the air is crisp and strong gusts sweep against a quilted sky, Phragmites will jettison their seed in one spectacular and wondrous event that can easily be mistaken for the first snow flurries of the season. But their legions are on the move, quietly increasing their ranks.

Today is November Seedcover

 

 

This event happens in the first two weeks of November and I was only one day off this year–my predictions are getting better.  If was supposed to be very cloudy today, but as you can see, these are the steel grey bottom clouds I was speaking of.    Ironic that today is Friday the 13th.

November_Seed_tempDuring lunch, I took to the streets, walking along the infected, the seeds were everywhere and inconspicuous.  People were just minding their own business and busy on their way.  I watched as store doors opened and the seeds ushered in around the people entering them.  The invasion, quiet, concealing, and spreading rapidly.  I had reports from a friend in Colorado (yesterday) who claimed to see the seeds in the air.  This is their time.

November-SeedAs a former Marine Biologist, this was and still is my personal holiday.  I look forward to this event each and every year, like clockwork.  I also look like a crazy person on the streets of NYC, holding my cell phone in one hand, trying to capture the seeds on video, while the other grabs at imaginary objects in the air.  It must look quite comical.  But I have yet to capture this digitally.  They are fleeting, clever and elusive.

If anyone can capture this on film, send them my way. And most importantly, thanks for reading my work.  Here are two images from a friend’s terrace furniture in NYC.  I even saw one seed floating around in a subway car yesterday.  There is no escape, but a beautiful thing to see.

NovemberSeeds_1 NovemberSeeds_2

Write about what you know – Bending the rules of invisibility (OffWorlders.com)

cloakAs a reader of Sci-Fi, I want to know the author has some working knowledge of the subject and technology they are writing about.   Typically, readers of Sci-Fi are former technologists, biologists, mathematicians, chemists, etc. and have held Life Sciences positions in their career.  As a writer, trust me, your readers will get distracted from the story if the subject matter and technology is wrong and they are saying to themselves,

‘This is such BS and lame–it would never happen like that.’

What you want your readers to be thinking are thoughts like,

Yeah, that’s farfetched, but plausible…’ or ‘Wow!  It could happen like that…’ or ‘Very clever, I hadn’t thought of it that way.’ or the ultimate complement, ‘Man this author knows their stuff and must have been a rocket scientist in their previous life.’

Case in point.  I am currently working on a Sci-Fi novel called, Silversides and in the opening draft, I referenced a starship that had been traveling through space for fifty-six years, undetected:  The easy way out is this:

If visible, the object would appear rectangular and windowless. If scanned, it would not appear to have mass; light simply passed around it, like a razorblade moving silently through the vacuum of interstellar space.”

I came across a great post on OffWorlders.com, by Kyle Pollard, on invisibility, cloaking and the rules for bending light to serve authors of Sci-Fi, a referencing starting point.  A more appropriate use of my above example, having watched the video clip from Kyle’s post, by the University of Rochester, could be something more attuned to this:

“The ship known as KC-B-581 was cocooned in a holographic lens; bending light around it like a razorblade moving silently through the vacuum of interstellar space.”

So write about what you know and if you do not know it, know where to look.  OffWorlders will be a great reference for me.

To read more and follow other great posts on OffWorlders.com, click here.

 

Binaural Audio

When my novella November Seed  reaches the large screen, I am going to insist it gets recorded in binaural audio.  I think the close proximity of the characters and scene tightness, especially in my favorite scene where Dan and Matt are in the woods of the Adirondacks, would work very well with this tech, without looking or sounding like The Blair Witch Project.

 

1.5 billion pixels – compliments of Hubble

Video

 

 

Even as a writer of Sci-Fi, I am overwhelmed by the detail of this image (Andromeda).  I got so use to seeing a galaxy as an object, that I forgot just how much ‘star stuff’ it takes to make that galaxy.   But looking at this image has brought me so much closer to my current writing, as if I get to travel to where my story takes place.  Sweet.