Monday, October 29, 2007

Online Speculative Fiction Community

Casually surfing around, I stumbled onto StarMerrow's LiveJournal community. At first glance, it seemed like another place to post interesting thoughts and links for the speculative fiction community.

After digging a little deeper, I've found the content to be quite handy in cutting-edge ways. Many writers seek the freedom to publish their work without the formulaic editorial constraints required to shoehorn into mainstream genre models. On this note, StarMerrow's community has contributed many progressive and handy references and publishing outlets.

The print on demand world can be a bit overwhelming...there's reference material on this subject. Another link that I found here was to Foner Books -- this is very insightful content for anyone who's tried to wade through the plethora of promotional options that self-published authors face.

Link up to this community, participate if you've got a take, and at least bookmark it for occasional return. They've got good stuff on this community site.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BLTC speculates on Huxley

Here's an interesting analysis of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. This is a book that I've recently explored in blog posts here. I broke down various subjects covered in the book in my case. The folks at BLTC have plugged far more aspects into one all-encompassing piece.

Sidebar: BLTC stands for Better Living Through Chemistry.

Anyhow, if you're a fan of the book, check out the article. BLTC has pondered this great work considering many pertinent social details...if you've talked about the book at a club, your viewpoints might be affirmed.

That's the beauty of speculative things change, the context of a book changes...making, in this case, writers like Huxley seem even more prescient.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

More on wave power

In this recent Darwin's Orphans blog post, new information on wave power was explored. More recent global press has leant credence to this future power source. It's not just the stuff of speculative truly seems to be the wave of the future.

In New Zealand, this article charts a course for upcoming development in this country down under. On the west coast of the U.S., a coastal Oregon community is excited with the developments -- check out this Newport News article. Here's an interesting quote in the article: "To harness less than one-percent of the entire energy of the ocean would meet all the energy needs of the world."

If you reflect on this statement, it doesn't seem surprising. Take a trip on a 40 foot pontoon boat off the coast of Kauai. It may seem like a decent sized vessel when you climb aboard, but after a few moments out at sea you'll realize how incredibly small such a boat is. The ocean does have awesome power and it's visceral when you experience such a day on the high seas.

It actually seems quite obvious when you look at the globe that harnessing 1% of the ocean's energy could meet all of world's energy needs. The oceans cover 2/3 of earth's surface and a day at the beach reminds you that energy is what they're all about. Seems like we're on the right track with wave energy. I'm sure it will emerge more in future-oriented fiction as we steer in this direction for our power needs.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Speculating on speculation

One interesting societal component that's not pulled into speculative fiction novels is the capital stock market -- at least to my knowledge. It's not as sexy or scientific as space ships and artificial intelligence. But, if you think about it, it could be a colossal underpinning for some clever speculative fiction.

Over the past few decades, there have been as many eye-openers in the money world as there have been in the cinema. The Wachowski brothers of The Matrix fame may have strung up a bunch of cameras to create a 360 degree slo-mo like no other; meanwhile the Enron cabal was inventing new energy markets that never existed prior to their crafty schemes.

It's fascinating to watch things like inflated company valuations come into existence. They make no sense to anybody until some silver-tongued salesman tells a really intriguing story. It takes a strange breed of creativity to invent fake worth.

As Oscar Schindler said: "It's all about the presentation." Indeed.

To the writers out there in spec-fiction-ville, here's a creative challenge: write a story where a mind-bending change has taken place in the capital stock market. We watched big crashes and scandals play out over the past couple of decades so the malleable concepts are fresh. What will happen next?

Write it up...we'll turn the pages.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Power of the future

In today's Seattle Times, the power source of the future gets great coverage. It's high time that we're seeing real world application of wave generation concepts. The power of the oceans has impressed surfers for years so why not your local utility company?

There are a few different models of ocean power capture. The article explains how the buoy parks and sea snake principles work. In my book Darwin's Orphans, I focused on the sea snake generators. In the story, huge power generation farms solve the energy and water shortage problems of future California.

According to the Times article, however, the initial forecast is for wave power to supply up to 10% of power needs once fully implemented. But, as we all know, once a technology is embraced it can mushroom cloud into much more. Who would have expected such dramatic and fast changing computer changes as they rapidly occured following the first models of Apple PCs?

It's still very realistic for ocean power to be the wave of the future (pun intended). Compared to the power of a river for example, it is so much larger in scope. On this note, our power generation source has been ebbing and flowing off of our coasts eternally. It's high time we harness it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fiction viewpoint from up north

Living in Seattle, we get Vancouver, Canada, news here and there. Typically, it's about a ship than ran aground or word of local orca pods moving into treacherous circumstances. However, this news is more along my line -- fictional viewpoints.

The impetus for the post is the Sputnik anniversary. Google has a little Sputnik drawing embedded into its logo today to celebrate. It was, indeed, a momentous occasion that spoke volumes on human progress.

As you read the article, you may not be able to viscerally relate. If you were merely a glimmer in your parents' eyes at that point in time -- as I was -- the sentiments may escape you. However, if you give it a little thought and mull over your years of stomping on the terra (to quote Lord Buckley), you may still come away with similar amazement.

I like to think about computers and phones in particular...

On computing, my first college course was FORTRAN WAT-5S and I used punch cards to compile my first program. We learned the basic things back then like algorithms and pseudo-code. Considering that I'm typing this entry on a light laptop that's receiving a wireless Internet signal, things have gotten much more user friendly.

With regards to telephones, a similar sense of technological accomplishment hits me when I think back to that trendy candlestick phone we used to have. It was a retro style thing at the time but all phones then were still dialed and connected through a wire. Now I've got this tiny gadget that can call wherever a signal is available (which is virtually everywhere I go) and I can capture and send photos with it. I'm still waiting for Jetsons-style video phones to get smoothly operating. I guess we need to go back to basics on that one...we need a new algorithm for video compression so it's easy to send through phones bilaterally.

It all still amazes me when I reflect on how far we've come even over the last twenty years. I think that Vancouver Sun writer has it right to a degree...but I think we're still seeing science fiction come true. There are actually lots more developments for us to see come to life. We're probably just getting so used to change now that we don't notice it as much.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

More bionic musings

Yesterday, I wrote this post about the Bionic Woman program that premiered last week. The intent was to keep it is, after all, fantasy TV.

However, I read this very sober post about the show that smacked me in the jaw. I guess TV needs to be taken far more seriously. It always seemed like cinema-lite to me. So, in my view, any social implications embedded in programs on the little glowing box weren't meant to be taken to heart.

They were in the AlterNet post. Very analytical stuff actually...check it out.

Apologies for my levity to those that think television isn't idle time filler. If these programs actually get under your skin, you expect reviews to be serious too. To such earnest watchers, I'll be more mindful in the future.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fiction on the tube

With the new television season underway, I gave this year's stories a shot. Specifically, I checked out the Bionic Woman premiere. Growing up with Jaime Sommers as a kid, I was curious.

Knowing that Steve Austin had moved on to a life of stunt man work in The Fall Guy that pesky Heather Thomas made the $6M Man a distant memory. However, with the Eighties far behind, I was able to refocus on Jaime again...what would she be like many years later?

The promos helped a bit too...a fetching brunette with captivating eyes lured me in...I had to check out the new generation Jaime Sommers. It premiered just last week. And this show is much more action packed than I remember in the Seventies. Lindsay Wagner was pretty smooth but she spent most of her time talking to the operator Oscar Goldman. The new Jaime does a bunch of kung fu's like Neo from The Matrix has worked his way through cyberspace and infused this new show.

I will check it out again next week. For now, I'm intrigued. When I saw Miguel Ferrer on the show, it became even more interesting. My first memory of Miguel was the movie Robocop where he was a real slimeball...but he played a great one. The guy has serious acting chops. He was definitely the anchor of Crossing Jordan to me...his strong persona made the reverance the other characters had for him make sense.

Now we'll see how he plays out as another heavy in Bionic Woman. He feels right in the part. Let's see if the writing can keep up with the performances...the perpetual balancing act.