Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Evil insights on antimatter

In this San Francisco Chronicle online article, we get horrible insights on antimatter. Instead of looking at positive reasons to develop antimatter energy, our industrious killing manufacuturers want to harness the power to destroy on a large scale while keeping it "clean."

Hmmm, oh I forgot that I took my crazy pills this morning. This isn't actually real, right? Can we actually prioritize yet another large-scale killing capability as a leading reason to develop antimatter energy? Come on fellows...haven't any of you been watching "24" this season? Enough questions to ponder...get real! We need yet another way to kill a lot of people like a hole in the head.

These are Darwin's Orphans...these people that think of more ways to kill. They are the remnants of the neanderthal beast that just won't die. I wish their ilk would fade away more quickly as we evolve. But, alas, these horrible people linger on and continue their evil thoughts.

Personally, I'm glad that most speculative fiction writers focus on the positive ways to use such energy. They generally stick to the typical nuclear blast whenever armed conflicts are part of their stories. New emerging power sources are generally used for transportation like the elusive floating car. We really don't need yet another way to kill and most savvy writers seem to know this. Casting emerging science in a positive light is critical. Art imitates life and we want to imitate a future that uses new discoveries in positive ways.

Shame on you sabre-rattlers for spending so much energy on evil deeds. Spend our tax dollars instead on military planes that use least we can leverage this same technology for useful pubic purposes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wining about the future

No, it's not a misspelled title...this post is about the impact of global warming on grape growing and wine making. Not a typical subject for a speculative fiction blog, I know. But still a fitting one.

Check out this article and it will get you thinking. I know it got my brain ticking when I read it. Then I thought: "what else could possibly get changed with global warming?"

In my book, Darwin's Orphans, I don't spell out any circumstances that we face due to global warming. Being an eternal optimist, I give humanity credit for solving our nasty fossil fuel burning habit over the next decade or so. In the book, the "Brooklyn Project" is given credit for this solution. It's a dedicated high-energy think tank that's tasked with quickly developing the solution to efficient production of hydrogen -- thus providing the solution to fossil fuel elimination. (There are a few other helpers too: coastal power generators harness the power of the sea as well.)

Now that I read this article on the changing face of our wine regions, I think that my next work of fiction should feature a world where changes have taken place due to our complacence. We've got a problem for sure and, of course, all we want to do is argue about it as we continue to melt and burn up.

For the sake of my beloved wine, I hope that our better angels prevail. But, I fear, they'll need to win soon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Speculative Fiction: A.K.A. "Fantastika"

I don't refer much to comedy in this blog. It's a funny thing -- comedy -- so varied based on taste (no rhyme intended).

However, I got my usual feed of speculative fiction blog / online news entries and came across this one. Clearly a tongue-in-cheek blog, Mr. Groonk came across the Russian term for speculative fiction: Fantastika. Hmmm, sounds pretty cool I agree.

He follows his comments on the term with an over-the-top quote by Warren Ellis. A bit much for my taste.

However, I concur that the term is "spiky."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Follow up on Crichton

On my January 7th post about Michael Crichton's latest fictional outing, there was a follow up comment regarding his book prior to "Next." More has just been published regarding Crichton's work so I thought I'd post this new link to keep the string alive.

Check this out. A writer up in Canada, Robert J. Sawyer, differs from the previous post on the appropriateness of the message conveyed by "Next." He makes meaningful statements about fiction, in my opinion, and makes deft comparisons to some of the earliest science fiction writers in the process.

However, he stays consistent with Peter Dingus (author of Proteus Rising commenting on the Jan. 7th post) on the horrible fallacy of "State of Fear." it seems that no matter where I turn, a recurring message is omnipresent: no one appreciates this book. It's routinely considered a grand disservice to the informed scientific community that is globally certain on the subject of our warming earth. Crichton should be ashamed for jumping aboard the anti-movement and for writing what appears to be his worst and most damaging opus in "State of Fear."

With any luck, he'll be a bit vindicated by other reviewers now and again for "Next." I've enjoyed reading earlier books of his and it would be a shame if his horrible misstep on global warming ended a meaningful career.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Characterizations in speculative fiction

There is insightful commentary in this blog by Satima Flavell for the speculative fiction writers out there. It's a reflection on the importance of psychological elements and how characters need to be well-written to effectively drive them.

I took away some good reminders from this exchange (the comment by the referred author, Ruv Draba, that follows the post is insightful too). So, I'll keep their comments in mind while writing my next opus.

Of the entire post, my favorite quip was Ms. Flavell's comment: "I have always felt that good speculative fiction is, at least to some degree, allegorical – that the created world is a metaphor for the real one." I wholeheartedly agree with this comment and I think it's the driver for much speculative fiction. We look at our current world and observe sound knowledge like global warming being debunked and wonder how far society could take bad decisions like such naysaying. So, we use our imaginations and draw these events out into the future weaving an entertaining tale in the process. With any luck, we'll shed light on our current missteps in the process and help point out the stakes of such fallacies.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The anatomy of future thinking

Fun, tongue-in-cheek post in MetroActive regarding brain activity and how it relates to future thinking is worth reading. Columnist Annalee Newitz has a fun take on this fascinating brain activity discovery.

She seems to think the study pushes the limits of applicability for grant funding on such endeavors and has a roaring time poking fun at it. To extend the joke, she carries it into the realm of finding a science fiction part of the brain. It's a fun line of thought to follow this brain sector back 50,000 years to early Homo sapiens. Funny stuff Ms. Newitz...especially the sardonic push for more funding at the end.

Thanks for lightening up what we can sometimes take a bit too seriously, Annalee. We do get passionately sucked in since we futurists love imagining what will happen. Again, we need to look to the future but live in the now, don't we?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More on fictional robots

In my post of December 19th, I reflect upon household robots such as Asimo. This article in Popular Mechanics features Daniel H. Wilson doing a little Q & A on robotics and how our fictional views on the subject have not been fulfilled.

The dialog is a frank and sober reflection on more than just robots in our speculative fiction. He expands the scope of his discussion to jet packs and X-ray specs. it's a fun read and challenges writers of speculative fiction to keep it up.

Check it out and feel free to post your comments.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Itzkoff rails against Crichton in "Genetic Park"

Holy over-the-top prose Batman! In this New York Times review article yesterday, Dave Itzkoff elaborates on the many failings of Michael Crichton's latest opus "Next." I'd like to get some feedback here from readers. Since I like to write near-future stories myself, I'd like to read something that pushes it too far as an example of what NOT to do. So, I'll check it out and weigh in myself in a while.

Itzkoff has many examples of how Crichton pushes an extreme agenda too far and in too many ways. According to him: "Crichton seems intent on confusing his readers, pummeling them with a barrage of truths, half-truths and untruths, until they have no choice but to surrender." I can see why Crichton keeps pushing harder and harder with his viewpoints through his prose. After all, he sometimes sponsors New Year's fireworks over Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii -- indicating that his bankroll skyrockets alongside his clever imagination as it did with Jurassic Park.

Personally, Jurassic Park broadened my view of what could happen if cloning, archaeology and PCA technologies got applied in new and dangerously creative ways. Even if it is considered far-fetched by many scientific critics, it makes conscientious points to consider. Overall, I think such thoughts are healthy to explore in prose. Scientists are very focused on their particular areas of expertise and politicians are mostly concerned with business interests. So, it takes the creative realm to explore the big picture. Crichton does this successfully...especially in his earlier works. However, I'm going to give "Next" a read and see if he's getting too far out there for my tastes.

I'd like to get your opinions on this please comment if you have input.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Saying goodbye to Jack Williamson

2006 is now in the past and so is Jack Williamson. He passed away last year at 98 years of age. This article is a great reflection on his legacy.

Personally, I must thank him for creating the term "terraforming" which I used as the title of my first screenplay: Terraform. Williamson had a great imagination and was an astounding futurist. Most impressive to me were his fictional descriptions of anti-matter power. Like Stephen Hawking who, as referenced in this recent article, believed that matter/antimatter annihilation would be our most likely way of getting near the speed of light in space travel, Williamson wrote earlier in support of this same hopeful power source. We have yet to harness the power of these annihilations but our forays into supercolliders could certainly yield insights over the upcoming decades.

Thank you Mr. Williamson for your insightful speculative fiction. You'll be sorely missed.