Do you get nightmares from your writing?

As I’m writing several novels at once (probably not a good idea), there is one in particular (HUM) giving me nightmares. I think I can speak for most writers in that we become so immersed in the writing it feels as though we are there. In my case, dreamtime is an opportunity to play out the plot, sometimes shocked to awakenedness if there was such a word. I have been long imprinted by the movie Alien (original), knowing it took some unbelievable writing to make something so terrifyingly beautiful. The art of Alien can be attributed to less graphic violence–– very Hitchcockian–– and preying upon a person’s inner fears, not to mention the protagonists you thought were protagonists die off one-by-one leaving Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) a rising star. But the real star of Alien is the alien itself: No backstory, no speaking parts and a relentless pursuit without pause or remorse. Think about the plots of most Hollywood movies where the antagonist gets the protagonist tied up in a chair at gunpoint and pauses to tell the protagonist their entire remorseful story giving the protagonist time to untie the knots and turn the table.

My first novella, NOVEMBER SEED, was an experiment to try out this Alien-like genre, but with a twist. It was very successful and gave me the courage to try and surpass Alien in Alienees, but with a comedic twist, in my current work in progress, HUM. So far so good, but the nightmares (moaning and leg twitching) are keeping my wife awake while I dream on, editing the plot. LOL.

HUM (synopsis)

Saul Sicola had been a successful nuclear physicist at the Los Alamos Labs in New Mexico, up until he was caught stealing some nuclear fuel for a DYI project to stop scorpions from entering his home.  

Jobless, ghosted, and landing on Homeland Security’s federal watch list, most days Saul is playing bad golf or sitting at his assigned stool in his favorite bar.  His life is uncomplicated, every day the same as the day before, until a bar fly convinces Saul to follow him to a nearby cave where he thinks he has discovered a new species of bat.  The horror of what the barfly had discovered was not of this world and the super-organism amassed on the cave wall is without pause or conscience.  When Saul discovers how the organism arrived on Earth, he also discovers they are a beacon for more to follow. 

With no one taking him seriously, he sets out to save the world… but only after trying to save his name.  To carry out his crazy plan, one that will surely attract the attention of Homeland Security, Saul will  require the help of an unlikely duo:  an alluring and peculiar girl on a watchlist of her own and his therapist, who just happens to be his Ex.

That said, I stumbled across a 2022 trailer of a movie I have not heard nor have I seen, It looks promising, but do I need more nightmares: (Crimes Of The Future). Disturbing enough that you need to be redirected to Youtube due to it’s graphic nature and age-related rating. My feeling of movies like this is that the graphic nature is a distraction for a weak plot.

The Metaverse is my little oyster?

And so it begins… again. After reading Neal Stephenson’s, “Snow Crash“, (pre internet), the 1992 Sci-Fi that coined the Metaverse–– I had such hope for virtual online tech. I was thrilled when SecondLife.com arrived and the creators (Linden Labs) stated using Snow Crash as their blueprint. In the beginning it was very much like the novel: mind-bendingly awesome, explosive, brilliant, and inventive. But as I observed its stages of Eutrophication over the years, it eventually became Hypereutrophic and a cesspool for porn.

With Playboy wanting to build a virtual mansion on Meta, and seeing the current level of sophistication of what Facebook allows today, it is easy to extrapolate that what became of SecondLife will be the same for Meta. But heck… Porn is the oldest industry and was the first industry to profit on the world wide web.

However, I do not see this happening to Eve Online, an MMO–– the likes of which you have never seen.

#meta #eveonline #future

I don’t see this happening to Eve Online, an MMO the likes you have never seen.

#meta #eveonline #future

Amazon Vella Platform is Live

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.

What really matter(s)

Take a break from the idiocracy. Gazing into these images, I can’t help but think our existence is a conscienceless for the universe to identify what, itself, is.

I write Science Fiction as a means of inventing future tech to see these wonders for myself.

Click on the image below to see the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2021: Shortlist revealed (BBC.com)

https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-57653901

Amazon’s Kindle Vella On The Horizon

Amazon will be introducing a new platform for writers and readers called Kindle Vella. If you are familiar with WattPad, it is very similar, allowing the author to release episodes one at a time, while interacting with their readers. This methodology has proven very effective for new writers on WattPad, including me, but add to this, the robust Kindle authoring platform of Amazon.

The idea is this: The author can release one episode at a time , from 500 – 6,000 words, of a Work In Progress (WIP) and add notes to the end of the episode, facilitating early feedback. The reader gets an early adoption of works by authors they follow. Sounds like a win-win. There is a catch (Being Amazon). The reader can read the first three episodes for free, but to unlock additional episodes, the reader is required to purchase a pack of tokens. The token packs seem pretty incidental

  • 140 tokens (2+ episodes) for $1.99
  • 368 tokens (7+ episodes) for $4.99
  • 770 tokens (15+ episodes) for $9.99

I have not figured out the significance of those numbers, but I’m sure a gazillion was spent on the research of big data and captured user content to arrive at those magic click baits.

There will be an IOS application coming out on Amazon in the upcoming months (as of this writing: 4/21/2021) it is not yet available)

I have already uploaded my first short story (Mylar) under the series title: “End Of Days.” Come back here and look for updates when this becomes available to all.

This is the first story in a series that got me thinking.  How would my family and friends feel about their last day on Earth?  Would their last day be as complacent and torturous as mine? That I can’t help.. I love a twist to a good ending.  Would they be angry or have regrets? Would they feel compassion, love?  Would they have a sense of being cheated or fulfilled in life?  Could I make this into a series of shorts?  So I asked them:  Where would you like to be?  Who would you like to be with?  How do you think you would feel?  But there was one catch–– I choose what takes them out.

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!

—- {} —–

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.

—- {} —–

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), 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.

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.

MEME

“Meme.” Having been a student of Marine Biology, spending countless semesters and personal time focused on physiology of species, animal behavior, genetics, the ecology of biological systems, and so on and so on, I had my light bulb moment—that moment in time where one’s mental capacity jumps up several notches—upon studying the science and observations of Robert Ricklefs (Ecology, etc.) and Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, etc.). It was as if I had stumbled upon a jumbled pile of puzzle pieces and began to see the image forming before me. That is how much of a light-bulb moment these individuals have had upon my learning and I began to unravel the social behavior of genetics.

Now back to the word, meme. Coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins (from the Greek word mimeme – imitate). Remember it as this. Gene is to blue eyes as meme is to Santa Claus; both passed from one generation to the next. Ask yourself, why exactly do we intentionally lie to our offspring about the existence of Santa Claus?

So something odd has evolved here: a means to propagate information much faster than genetics. But all may not appear, as it seems. Take one of Richard Dawkins observations in ants, where some ants he observed climbed to the top of a leaf or blade of grass, something that put that ant in a vulnerable situation, exposing itself to predators or grazing animals. What would explain such behavior? Martyrism? Social acceptance? Fecundity? It turns out in that ant example it was the lancet fluke– a virus affecting the ant’s brain, putting the ant on a course of action beneficial to the virus. The virus required a grazing animal to complete its life cycle, securing its ability to pass on its genetics—it couldn’t care less about using the ant to get there.

So… why am I bringing this up? Are you the ant or the lancet fluke? I suppose I am both, for I see posts, propagated, as one’s personal gain. This one included 😉

Case in point:

The alien in my sci-fi novella, November Seed, was based upon the fungi of the genus Ophiocordyceps – which takes control of an ant’s brain, producing an antenna of spores and turning the ant into a zombie for it’s selfish quest.

What exactly would the meme be for that? All I can picture are Santa’s reindeers, all with antlers, pulling his sleigh bearing gifts.

“Merry Christmas all! And to all a good night……”

If you are looking for a good Christmas story to watch, try Rare Exports: A Christmas story, free on Amazon Prime

What would aliens actually look like?

It is quite easy for a Sci-Fi author to make their aliens very human-like (guilty of charged– as in my upcoming novel, Silversides); trying to write a story where they are nothing like humans creates a lot more work for the author, even if that alien does not have a speaking part.

November Seed

Alien in, November Seed

Both of my novellas (November Seed & From Europa With Love) have aliens that are not human-like and have no dialogue, so to make these stories credible, the biology has to be right.  It helped me immensely that in my former life I was a Marine Biologist–I had been studying alien life forms my entire life it seems and it is not by coincidence that in both my novellas the alien life forms are marine in nature.

Representation of alien in, From Europa With Love

But if you are new to writing Sci-Fi and do not have a background in Marine Biology, there are countless videos like this excellent BBC short from the BBC Ideas section to start you on your way.

So where does a new writer of Sci-Fi get started with understanding alien life?  Below are some good short video to get you on your way.  maybe, just maybe will will find out in our lifetime when we can get a probe below the surface of Europa to explore its thermal vents…. but then again, maybe we do not want to go three.  Europa seems to be a focus for NASA and other scientists as a first strike for alien hunting.  And why not?  t was mine in From Europa With love.