Having watched both the Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin tourist missions, I think, as a tourist, I would choose Virgin Galactic over Blue Origin for a ride into space; there is just something about the civility of Virgin Galactic’s approach over Blue Origin’s. One thing Branson knows is tourism and entertainment. Taking off and landing at a SPACEPORT, with all the creature comforts, has such an appeal over something that looks vintage Russian (landing in a dirt field). The long term options seem better for Virgin Galactic with an ability to take off and land almost anywhere. I can see high-speed travel and eventually a transport to a Virgin Space Hotel. Blue Origin’s future seems limited.
That said, my bet is on SpaceX for going beyond tourism.
The Amazon Vella platform has been released. This platform brings writers together with their readers, one episode at a time. My collection of shorts is called End Of Days. I was kicking back with a friend and we got to talking about life, and what if it was our last day on Earth. One of my friends is convinced she is going to be taken out by a Walmart truck. That story, The Price Of Always, will be released next week. I would love to hear what your End Of Days would be–who knows, it might appear here.
If you like the story, select it as your FAVE and I will enjoy your feedback.
One of my favorite reads was “THE SPACE TOURIST’S HANDBOOK” by Eric Anderson, who on April 8th, 2001, blasted off in a Soyuz rocket for an eight day ride to the ISS and became the 415 person to enter space and the first person to pay to get there. His account and advice are written in this incredible handbook–– a must read for anyone wanting the see the blue dot from above.
Fortunately, the technology has advanced exponentially since 2001 and going into space with Virgin Galactic makes things a lot easier.
I share the Zodiac sign of Gemini with Laurie Anderson, listening to her music since the 70’s, re-wiring me forever thereafter as being, well, unusual when it came to my taste in music and obsession of taking the path less traveled.
Laurie Anderson not only shaped my choice in music, but my outlook of the future, a future that would be synthetic, creative–– a blur between flesh and machinery.
It seems like only yesterday CURIOSITY landed on Mars, but that took place in 2012, August 6th at 05:17 UTC. I set my alarm and was up at 3:00 AM ET, listening to what seemed a live Sci-Fi broadcast, sitting on the edge of my seat, during the Seven Minutes Of Terror.
But hearing that NASA communication stream of the Curiosity landing was like attending a masterclass of Sci-Fi writing–– a first hand grasp of space chatter and the excitement of the rover descending towards the surface, on its own. This is something every Sci-Fi author has attempted to write.
Looking up into the pink sky at what first appeared to be a meteor entering the atmosphere, we jumped back when a large parachute deployed, slowing what looked like a charred disk beneath it. We watched, trying to make sense of what it was just before a cover jettisoned and the object detached from the chute and began to free-fall in silence towards us. I grabbed the hand of my life mate, turning us on our heels as we began to run, finding cover behind an outcropping. We settled there in the dust and could hear the crackle of rapidly firing thrusters, then nervously peered out at the slowing object and could clearly make out something curled within as it dropped down and dangled from tethers, unfurling as it was lowered onto the surface. The drone above hovered in place, chattering in rapid fire, then the pop of small explosives detached the tethers and the drone arced above and away, crashing into the hills beyond, leaving this alien behind. We watched for some time as it sat motionless, then an arm was raised and perched above it a head that began to rotate in our direction. We ducked out of view, pressing our backs against the jagged wall, breathing rapidly, and having nowhere to go without being seen. We would wait for nightfall and slip away, hoping others have seen this.
Don’t miss the MARS Perseverance landing on February 18th – Show starts at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC
I so much enjoyed watching a Sci-Fi on Netflix called, Advantageous. A great film… a thinking person’s film. As someone once said, ‘everything has already been written’, and I believe that to true. Advantageous is not a new concept. Robert Sawyer’s Mindscan, which was one of my all time favorite Sci-Fi reads , delves into the reality of mind transference. But unlike Mindscan. Advantageous feels too close to home. There was one line in the film where the protagonist states, ‘There is too much data for the human to process’ and she went on to indicate this as the downfall of current society–– the root cause of so much emotional suffering. Just like COVID was the catalyst for amplifying remote access working, something that has been talked about in my generation, but never a great need to push this concept with face-to-face teams and city living doing so well. Then COVID hits and now the need is viewed differently and the millennials have their generational change as we did ours. Remote commuting is here to stay and the idea of concentrated work forces, I believe, are in the rearview mirror.
So that line in the film, Advantageous….. It got me thinking of something I have felt for some time, that eventually, for humanity to survive, it needs a quantum leap and I mean that literally. The problem with humanity is that it is based upon a binary system: On/Off, Up/Down, In/Out, Good/Evil, Right/Wrong, Yes/No. This is certainly evident in our current day society, amplified by social media. There does not seem to exist any middle ground and the polarization of a world society is being fed upon this system.
Then quantum theory comes along, not based upon a binary system but a system of three: On/Off/The other thing…..
So it makes sense to me that the evolution of humanity will be as different as wampum is to cryptocurrency. “With change comes casualty,” but through change, humanity will survive, synthetically–– a handing over of the baton to AI (based upon a quantum platform). Not until then will humanity be looked upon as an advanced galactic species acting as one. Everything is cyclic and where we began as one, we will become one again.
Advantageous depicts the dawn of an intermediate container species, just as the CD/DVD was to digital streaming.
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), Prospect (NetFlix). 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) & BioHackers (NetFlix – German).
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.
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.
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.