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). 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 


The Past Life Of Writing

Looking at this picture of my past I can remember everything about that day: How I felt, whom I was with, where and why I was there.  I can recall the smell the salt in the air and the heat of the sand beneath my feet.

But an odd thing happened the other day while attending a wedding in upstate NY.  My wife and I took a short trip from where we were staying to see the home that our dear friends once owned; it was a warm and beautiful home, a camp as it is referred to, and one  we had been to many times, tucked away in the Adirondacks along Upper Saranac Lake.  This place became the inspiration for the ending to my Sci-Fi novella, November Seed.

When we arrived at the camp, I got out of the car to snap an image and was overcome by a strong sensation of a past life that was my own.  I realized I was standing in the exact location of where a very graphic scene of my story took place.  One I had conjured up in my mind months after leaving here for the last time.

But I was not just standing on that road up in the Adirondacks remembering this scene; I was standing in the road where my main characters were dealing with the end of days, protecting their families and friends. I could see the entrance to the Point down the road and feel the tension rising within, my back pressed against the bark of the oak tree, the Moss 10-gauge held along my thumping chest. I could hear the pick-up truck approaching, its tires crunching along the snow-packed gravel and the tick of the engine getting louder. Then taking a few quick breaths I stepped out into the road with one hand along the trigger, the other signaling the pickup to stop….

I walked over to that tree and held my hand against the bark then turned to look back along the gravel road.  The smell of sulfur in the air seemed so real to me and I looked down at my feet expecting to see the litter of spent cartridge shells sizzling into the snow.   

This is what I enjoy most about writing, dissolving into a hyper-reality where I am alongside my characters; watching and feeling everything they see and do.  If I can go the real-world location and relive what took place there, then I know I have created the perfect scene.

On this date, five years ago. Somewhere in NYC, I began to write.

It is hard to believe that five years ago, on this date in a NYC coffee shop on the upper east side, I started my writing career. You can see other frustrated writers around me, but this cozy place became the catalyst for putting pen to paper, or in my case, fingers to keypad.  Since then, my debut novellas, November Seed & From Europa With Love, continue to have steady daily downloads on Amazon and the fan base, spread over eight countries, is still growing.   So thanks to all who support and push me onwards.

For the past few years I have been working on a full-length novel called Silversides which  takes place on Gliese 581 g.  As a new writer, I discovered why only the most seasoned writers leave the planet to tell a story and why most extraterrestrials come to Earth to kick our ass… because when you leave the planet you have to invent everything.   Along the way, I have written out weak characters and developed new ones, dragging along Kulcin who is the protagonist in, From Europa With Love.  Writing is a process of one step forward, two back but I have made some great plot changes with refined twists and developed a new ending the reader will not see coming.  Finally I can see the light at the end of the editing tunnel having received great feedback from Betabooks.co 

I do not follow a linear path and have several other novels in the treatment stage that I am equally excited about, such as: HUM, Suicides Of Spring and Glycerine to name a few.  Recently, I have joined forces with a fellow writer (G+’er) to compile a list of shorts we have written and put out onto various sites, such as: Offworlders.com (my favorite), Wattpad (where one of my shorts made it into their premiere eZine, TEVUN KRUS).and other author/reader sites.  But it is G+ that has taught me to be a better writer because of the  invaluable advice and knowledge learned and shared by such super cool folks.

Sargassum and the art of writing about what you know

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.

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

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.

 

Waiting For The Asteroid

With June 30th approaching ( Asteroid Day), here are a few things you can research, read and watch to prepare yourself.

RESEARCH:  Start with the leading authority of all things asteroids by going to Asteroidday.org.

READ:  I had started a series of sci-fi shorts titled: End Of Days.  One of these stories deals specifically with an asteroid event, called, Under Eden

WATCH: 51 Degrees North: A collaboration of Dr. Brian May and Grig Richters.  A life-changing film that led to the creation of Asteroid Day.  Both the trailer and full length versions of the film can be found below.  You do not want to miss this.

To see the full length movie, click here

When sci-if meets science (Silversides)

Real Science inspires SciFi

This is exactly what I have been looking for in a the mask that my characters in the novel, Silversides, wear when they first land on Gliese 581 g to protect themselves against biologicals they yet do not have immunities for. It is so awesome to finally have a clear image, which makes writing a bit easier. The real science fiction is behind the concept of this mask, an artist’s rendition, of the research coming out of Denmark for a new material synthesized from cobalt to extract and store oxygen eliminating the need of oxygen tanks.   Now back to editing….

Excerpt from Silversides: Chapter Five

Kulcn stepped out from the shuttle with the bleed of oxygen rushing past him, the last of Earth’s oxygen as it diffused into the atmosphere. He paused to read the input on the lens before descending the ramp, and by the time his boots touched the ground the white microtiles of his suit and mask had turned a charcoal black to match the color of the sand. The other Silversides followed, their suits fluxing from the bottom up as if they had walked into a pool of black ink.