Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Authors on YouTube: Part 1

Taking a hint from my last post, it got me thinking about the virtual world and the author. So, I'm going to take you along on my YouTube journey.

I've started out my YouTube author series with a couple of home video clips: here's one of them. With the YouTube attention span being about 30 seconds, I'm keeping the clips this length. There are many subjects readers might find interesting about a book -- so I've posted quick comments on aspects of the novel: in this case I'm talking about the protagonist in Darwin's Orphans, the novel I recently published.

It is enjoyable to talk about your book and you don't get nervous like you do in a crowded room of people staring at you. So, the video author experience has been pretty good so far. Next up, I'll expand the set of clips and do a bit more editing. After I reflect on these efforts, I'll explore how an author can broaden the view of such clips by exploring search and other linkages online.

Keep returning periodically for more on this series -- the first of its kind on this blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Virtual book touring

In this UK SF Book News article, there is an interesting approach to book touring: do it online.

Author Chris Dolley has just debuted his new novel "Resonance." There is a humorous bit about book signing with an "astral hand." Hey Chris, perhaps you should contact the people at DocuSign? They have a virtual signing solution for you.

It's a fun article...check it out. It even features the hip word of the day: the singularity. However, this is accompanied by a multiverse, so it's even cooler.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Odd blog

Typically, I try to focus on fiction and the future. Once in a while though, I feel compelled to step outside the fiction mold and share my non-fiction insights...

I've studied scientific journals for years and I can safely say this blog has a really flawed argument. So, those of us that read about developments impacting the future, in my case to write insightful speculative fiction, expect other writers to do their homework.

Here are some key items that this hack is ignoring:

-- frozen methane chunks (or hydrates) on the seafloor that have survived the last ice ages are now sublimating -- only now are they being affected by our man-made impacts on ocean composition.
-- Taking only one factor, fluctuating temperatures via ice age trends, is bad science and an extremely limited view.
-- Other factors: fluctuating ozone layer, levels of forest layer, etc. all play into the long term equation of viable global weather stability.

The blog representing this bad science sure sounds like someone's pitiful effort to persuade less educated people to discard global warming as a concern. Or, in this case, even rally against it using economic arguments -- sound like a business man out to achieve something?

As a person who has read scientific journals since the early 80's, I've been tracking all of these trends and can give everyone much better advice. The earth is changing in many ways due mostly to mankind's impact. You should care... the wealth of multi-dimensional scientific factors supports it. If you want to be sure, study it deeply. There is a lot of information out there. Just keep in mind, studying ice ages or fractions of temperature changes will not give you the full picture.

Think about the next couple of generations...they do need you to see through the smokescreens. Think twice about what you read, even this blog, and do your own research. I'm confident you'll find my message well informed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Making the dark matter

So, you need a storyline for a space cadet piece of fiction? Well, here's your latest science-based factoid to latch onto: dark matter. Yes, we've now got new exciting evidence that it does indeed exist.

So, why does this matter, oh writer? Well, let's first recap what it's supposed to mean in our cosmos: "Astronomers believe dark matter - as opposed to ordinary matter making up the stars, planets and the like - comprises about 85 per cent of the universe's material, but evidence of it has been difficult to come by." -- thanks to our friends at Reuters. Hmm, this still might not motivate you to care, eh? What does it matter? (No pun intended.)

Thanks to fellow blogger Larry Sessions, we have a bit more insight into this subject: For some time, dark matter has been considered a key ingredient in determining the fate of the Universe. Basically, if there is enough mass in the universe, then you can say...that it is heavy, and can fall down as an apple can fall from tree. Except in this case the Universe would collapse down on itself."

So, back to the writing task at hand. You now have the quantity of known dark matter changing as your critical fact. Like the proverbial comet smashing into earth, dark matter is mysteriously decreasing. How are we going to equalize its level again? Decrease the light matter? Oh boy! There's your go write it up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Keep writing it your way

In this post reflecting on the life of the author Philip K. Dick, the bottom line is: keep the faith and write it your way. Unfortuntely, according to the article, Dick didn't have that faith before he passed into the literary afterworld. But he's gotten the kind of deserved recognition he sought in the end...likely because he wrote it his way.

Now I've known for years that the film "Blade Runner" was based on his "Do Androids Dream" story since the 80's when it first wowed a cult following that includes me. However, I just learned that the recent Nick Cage film "Next" was based on one of his short stories. True creativity will always get snapped up by Hollywood.

The personal depictions of Philip K. Dick are not glamorous...he was a pretty wacky dude from all reports. However, he had the gift of imagination and wrote things his way. His story should be a lesson to all those writers taking the fresh path. Stay on's worth it.

More on robot laws

Following up on some of my past commentary based on Korea's penchant for robot laws, I must temper my earlier rhetoric. In this recent article, the fascination with robots in Korea became more apparent to me.

Most interesting is the R&D fact: according to the article, Korea spends 80 million dollars a year in developing new robotic gadgets.

This makes a bit more sense now...even though this figure might seem low by U.S. standards, it still shows a profound inclination for motorized helpers on a GNP basis. So, I tip my hat to their Asimovian reverence. In this case, it does seem to be safe rather than sorry...even though they will inevitably need to amend their robot laws to meet future needs.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Accelerating technology and the singularity

After reading this article, I felt better informed on speculative fiction writers and books that focus on computing and intelligence. This technological aspect is fascinating and very common in future-based fiction.

However, I didn't come away from the article truly understanding the definition of "the singularity" in this non-black-hole context. We're talking about technology and how it progresses to a specific point that it escapes human imagination...I think. So, to try to add another reference point on this, see these definitions.

From this source, the one that makes sense to me is: "Singularity is meant as a future time when societal, scientific and economic change is so fast we cannot even imagine what will happen from our present perspective, and when humanity will become posthumanity."

This all sounds like hyper-intellectual stuff but, if you read on through the Reason Magazine article a bit deeper, it gets a bit more detailed and less philosophical. Specifically, the passage that reflects on Moore's Law -- the doubling of integrated circuits every 18 months -- for example, is a very practical explanation. On this note, definitely read deeper into the article. Vernor Vinge has some fascinating things to say.

I especially enjoyed his reflections on the many contributing writers of this subject. His specialized insights are very handy for building a reading list. So, if you find the growth of technology a key point of interest in your literary pursuits, bookmark this article.