Archive for science fiction

Genocide and the Will to Write

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2013 by thislegofmine
Stock image of a pencil from morgue file

This is a picture of a pencil, because I’m writing about writing, har!

 

I’ve been having trouble writing recently.  I sit down and a million distractions get in the way.  Pushing through has been proving to be hard.  This seems to be a theme with everything right now, I’m not eating like I should and exercise is next to not at all.  Maybe it’s the season.  Either way inspiration seems to be hiding for now

 

I’ve decided to start rewriting Long Shadows Made Short so that it reads better.  I’m a better writer and it needs some fixing.  I’m never going to give up on it, not until it’s right.  I also have a book I’m working on in my head that’s based on the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia during the 70’s, but in a future sci-fi setting.

 

In reading over some of my other stories, someone once asked me if I really thought Genocide could happen to humanity again.  I reminded them that it’s never really stopped.  Even after Europe and America discovered what Hitler did, Stalin and Charmin Mao continued Genocides in their own countries for decades.  The mass killing of our fellow human beings for one stupid reason or another is a theme that keeps repeating and therefore needs exploring.

 

I believe in Science Fiction as a tool for mankind to explore the best and worst possibilities of humanity and technology.  Within a book or a movie we can see these worlds from a safe distance, reminding ourselves where we need improvement and most importantly, where we are great.

 

Right now I’m really just lacking motivation to write.  I know at some point I’ll put my fingers on the keyboard and drift away.  It feels a lot like listening to a Rush song or a moment of pure bliss.  Hopefully it happens soon. 

What do you guys do when you feel a blockage?  Take more writing fiber? 

What are your thoughts on Genocide and war crimes?  Should novels focus on the good and forget the bad or is horror a part of human life that can exist in media safely…teaching us lessons we can stop teaching ourselves?

Advertisements

The moon is good to us but are we good to it?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2013 by thislegofmine
Picture of space

The Universe my Dwelling Place and the Stars my Destination

Do we think differently about the moon now?  I find myself wondering if our concepts of space change as we touch it; as if tangibility changed the cosmos to something banal and ordinary.  Perhaps when Neil Armstrong set his feet on celestial ground the sky became duller and we looked upward lacking motivation.  The implications of this make me wonder about long term space colonization.  After all, my generation has seen the death throes of the American space program.

 

I imagine people scattered like bugs, small ships making contact with planets, building up civilization and sending more out.  We could become the beneficial bacteria of the cosmos, spreading and cultivating until we become untouchable.  My fear – as we do so those rocks on which we step fall to decay beneath our feet.  Imagine planets abandoned and forgotten as society advances.  Instead of beneficial bacteria we become blight, a virus.

 

From this small gemological perspective we can see ourselves as the conquistadors of a grim future – full of chaos and despair or the rulers of a galaxy which can be tended and cherished for its beauty.  Looking at the moon I see the reflection of humanity and wonder if its empty shell hasn’t been polluted by the twelve men who set food on it or if we won’t eventually return to our hopes of colonizing the lunar surface.  Does the known rob us of the motivation for greatness?  What do you think?

Our Heavenwards Guide

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by thislegofmine
The stars that guide you

Look to the heaven and see the future.

Whenever the future seems dismal I look up to the star’s and see the future of mankind.  The greatest gift science-fiction gives us is the ability to plot our course into the future while remaining earthbound.  From this position we become the dreamers of all things terrible and great – plotting our course through great civilizations full of aliens or dystopia’s where humanity is left to rot.  Weather your story is a warning or revelry, let it out, my fellow sci-fi writers and dare to dream.

 

We are forging a future where we have weighed the possibility of mankind from the position of the dreamer down on earth.  The best thing about being human is that these dreams can come true.  The Star Trek communicator is now a cellphone.  Cars are powered off hydrogen.  Things long though to be the dreams of science-fiction are coming true, so use the power of your fiction to make a landscape that grows the best of humanity.

Long Shadows Made Short–Chapter 01 Preview

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by thislegofmine

Below is a preview of the book I’m trying to self publish.  I’m taking donations through Kickstarter, with a free copy of the book at every level.  So if you like what you read share the Kickstarter, or better yet donate a dollar or two, please.

###

Chapter 01

 

  

 It wasn’t long until Melanie regretted going to the sandwich shop near the hospital. Its location was convenient to the ward her husband was in, but the news playing muted on the TV was upsetting the patrons. Most places had set the station to a cartoon channel to keep uneasy nerves from showing. No one was happy that America was losing the war.

 

 A group of young people sat around a table and a teenager with curly red hair had the angriest voice in the room. Several times, he repeated, “Those damn Indians are going to blow us all to hell.”

 

 For the third time, a young woman sitting nearby responded with, “Pig fucking Communist bastards.”

 

 The racism was grating on Melanie’s nerves. Her annoyance at the rude comments escaped as a sigh and an apologetic look came from a Hispanic woman sitting near the teenagers. Melanie shook her head in response, letting the lady know she was appreciative of the sympathy. At some point, Melanie would say something in hopes her age would quiet the conversation, but hunger and sore hips made her want to sit down more than start a fight.

 

 One middle-aged woman laughingly added, “It used to be we thought Indians were all Hare Krishna, then those heathen Chinese invaded and they got all uppity.”

 

 A necklace with a gold X against a black background shone from the woman’s neck. This identified her as someone who worked for a religious charity shop and Melanie tried to excuse her bias. The anger so many people felt was hard to witness on a good day when there was enough bread to go around. Rationing made everything difficult to procure and Melanie wished these people could just be happy for a bread day.

 

 “What do you think, Grandma?” The same young man with russet hair tried to draw Melanie into the bitching session.

 

 Shocked a stranger would comment so rudely on her age, Melanie angled her eyebrows. “I think people like you are the reason people are dying of typhoid in internment camps.”

 

 “A liberal grandma.” The youth grinned wickedly, the side of his face highlighted green from the reflection of the sun off the painted wall. Chuckling with his pals for a few seconds, the man spat his next words as if he were an animal provoking a fight. “It’s fools like you who let the fucking Pinko’s take over Europe and Northern African so easy.”

 

 Relieved she was next in line, Melanie ignored the rude teenager and smiled at the clerk. “I’ll have the twenty percent turkey filler on wheat. Are you out of lettuce?”

 

  “I told you that you’re what’s wrong with this world, you aged old bitch.” The young man stood and started to move towards Melanie. Winding around the metal chairs and tables, he leaned on the sneeze guard while his long, angular face reflected across the produce like an angered spirit. Trying not to wince, Melanie took a step backwards and looked at the bewildered register girl. She wasn’t going to be any help.

 

 Forty years as a liberal arts teacher meant Melanie had been the subject of anti-communist rage before, but being confronted by a stranger like this made her worry. Since Hawaii had been taken by The Communist Republic of United India, these sentiments had grown more ardent and he was a testament to his bitter generation. A few protesters near the college had severely beaten a colleague and Melanie was beginning to fear the boy would do the same to her.

  

Fortunately, the middle-aged woman with the red X around her neck came over and put her hand on the teenager’s shoulder. The doughy woman with dyed blonde hair and deep frown lines glared as if she was warning him to stop. A sneer parted the ginger’s lips, but before he could spout any more hate, the middle-aged woman interrupted him. “Joseph, your mother would be so disappointed if she was here right now. You were raised to respect your elders no matter what they think. You’re not proving yourself a man by bullying an old lady.”

 

 Joseph stammered before giving up. Frustration lined his body as he elbowed his way past the woman. As he left the store, his friends quietly filed out after him. Each teenager gave Melanie a rude look as they pushed their way through the glass door. It wasn’t until the kids had piled into a car and sped off that Melanie remembered to breathe.

 

 “Thank you,” she said to the woman with the religious necklace.

 

 “It was the right thing to do,” the woman responded as she rejoined her family. A soulful pop song about lost love was the only noise remaining when Melanie paid for her sandwich and asked for it in a to-go bag.

 

The Dallas heat reverberated off the pavement as Melanie opened her car door and tossed her sandwich gently onto the passenger’s seat. She used the frame to lower herself to avoid pain in her hips. Putting her keys into the steering column, turned it to the “on” position with her arthritic fingers. The Chrysler Halo pulled juice from its electric battery, triggering a smooth, purring sound from the engine. As if it knew she had just entered the car, the light on the dash of her car blinked for attention.

 
“Little asshole,” Melanie grumbled. 

 

Voice shaky she commanded the consol on her car to give her directions home.  Instead of the usual video, a flickering icon appeared. The still picture was of a dark-haired debonair woman in her early fifties. It was Sheryl Hues, a big-shot inventor and multi-billionaire who Melanie begrudgingly called friend. Despite herself, Mel preened her hair in the rearview mirror in a vain attempt to seem attractive.

 

“Hello Sheryl, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Mel spoke with a dry, sarcastic tone that she hoped would cover up the exhaustion she felt. “Last I heard, you were in seclusion and unable to speak with old friends.”

 

“Mel, you look lovely as ever,” Sheryl responded in a more charming, concerned manner than usual. “Tell me, are you well?”

 

Once again fidgeting with her gray hair, Mel responded, “I see your absence from society hasn’t stopped you from being a shameless flirt. I don’t want to waste time playing games, Sheryl. It’s been a long time since you called to say hello and even longer since you’ve been social with anyone but your research.”

 

“You know you’re special to me, Mel.” Sheryl’s voice was patronizing yet kind. “I want you to rethink my offer about a slot in my personal shelter. After all, the new world needs artists just like it needs scientists and doctors.”

 

A mechanical timbre echoed from the edge of Sheryl Hues’ voice. The artificial sound caused Mel to grimace as she remembered rumors that Sheryl had been trying to preserve her consciousness in one of the robots she had invented. Unfortunately, Sheryl’s voice sounded unnatural, like an AI that was learning the nuances of speech and Mel feared these rumors were true.

 

“The future doesn’t need old women whose best years are behind them.” Mel smiled, her mind returning to the topic at hand. “Plus, Don’s still in the hospital. He doesn’t have a lot of time left.”

 

Melanie’s face withered as she talked, all of her sixty-eight years settled into every crease and wrinkle. After her hospital visit, groceries, and getting lunch, she planned to nap and watch TV the rest of the day. The burden of living was beginning to grind and it showed. She had to cut back on most of the things she used to do. Her mind was still sharp, but her body failed to keep up.

 

General weariness caused her to apologize to Sheryl in the hope she would finally stop dogging her to wait out the war underground. “I tell you what, if nuclear war hasn’t come by the time Don finally passes, I’ll consider your offer more closely.”

 

Almost psychic in her response, Sheryl said,  “I know this has to be hard on you, Melly; you always did have a sympathetic soul. Let me make a suggestion that might make you feel better: why don’t you take the day off today and visit the facility? I downloaded directions to your car’s computer and I promise VIP treatment. There is even a spa in the facility for you to take a soak in. Visiting might help make the choice easier for you once Don has passed on, of course.”

 

Those last words pressed on the air with tension as Mel thought about her offer. Sheryl had never approved of her marrying Don, and she found the tone she adopted when speaking of Don insulting. Yet, being dogmatically pestered by Sheryl had left Melanie tired and she was ready to agree to almost anything if it would make her stop.

 

“In order to finally shut you up,” Mel began, “I’ll check it out this afternoon. This is no promise of my future decisions. It is a visit to see what you’ve put together to ‘save mankind,’ and nothing more.”

 

Gloating, Sheryl said, “Excellent. I shall tell my automatic sentries to look for you! Melanie, you won’t regret this. I promise. I can’t wait to talk to you about my plans.”

 

“Of course I won’t regret this,” Mel grumbled as she started to back up the car and headed towards the point indicated on her map. “I’m not making any decisions I’m not ready to live with.”

###

The Chrysler Halo’s teal body was bluer in the artificial sun lamps of the underground compound. As the car sank down on a platform to the parking level, Melanie wished the car retained this sheen in the sun. The off coloration of everything combined with the cold from the powerful air conditioner made her regret coming, even if her car looked nicer down here.

 

A robot tour guide appeared from the doorway nearest to the car lift. It was hard not to gawk at the dome-shaped mechanism with dozens of arms, even if it did have a nice male voice. Mel worried robots secretly harbored feelings and was repulsed by them for that reason.

 

The idea of being trapped in a metal body you can’t flee made Mel feel guilt concerning her beloved pet cat. Whiskers had started to grow old, and with his time nearly up, she had preserved him with cybernetic implants. He was the same animal and pieces of familiar fur were in comforting places, but his feet hurt when he ran across you. The most disturbing thing about the cat was watching him try to groom his metal legs. Her cat didn’t really understand that his artificial appendages weren’t part of his normal body, but she still wondered if it wasn’t wrong to defy nature.

 

The click of shoes on the concrete floor was slightly muffled by the robot’s whirring components. This solitary sound distracted Mel from the robot, who was spouting pre-recorded information about the building. Paying attention wouldn’t change Mel’s opinion. Surviving the apocalypse wasn’t for her-this exercise would shut Sheryl up and possibly get her to leave Mel alone until after the cancer took Don. Mel was sixty-eight years old and the world had fallen into a pattern of suffering and beauty that rarely surprised her anymore. It was time to enjoy what she had left before death came.

 

The lack of human sound told her that the shelter must be one that keeps people in suspended animation until it was safe to start again. It would be a waste for her to step into one of those cells. She doubted her fragile bones would even allow her to enter one without assistance. Plus, the robots ran everything, and the idea of having the machines creep around while she hibernated caused her annoyance at Sheryl to triple.

 

“Sleeping beauty is a youthful princess,” Mel thought. “Tragic in that she cannot experience the wonder of life’s beginning. I only have endings left. I will walk out those doors and help my husband with his.”

 

The robot took her down long halls towards a steel door. The tour wording seemed to be recycled from one given to the inhabitants. “These are the dorms that will house the survivors after the war is over. Each one contains personal effects and will remain hermetically sealed until the day the owners wake up to their new lives.”

 

The sexy quality of the robot’s voice made Mel wonder if the other rumor about Sheryl bedding her robots was true. After her fiftieth birthday, Sheryl had stopped leaving her suite in the Pegasus Center and no one had seen her in years. It didn’t seem farfetched that a well-programmed robot might be a pleasing companion if you were alone all the time. Still, a robot designed for sexual pleasure was more than a little upsetting to Melanie, who looked at her tour guide with fresh horror. Logic held that any pleasure robots Sheryl might have were with her in Dallas, but Melanie was still bothered by the idea that her guide might be used for something perverse.

 

A metal pincer extended towards the door at the end of the hall. Melanie stepped back nervously as a radio signal made the door to open, reminding her of a haunted house. Oblivious to her nervousness, the robot continued, “Mrs. Worthing, as a friend of Sheryl Tools and Manufacturing’s founder Sheryl Hues, you have been granted permission to preview a special section, The Shelter’s unique calamity renewal project. You will receive a special spa treatment made available so guests can relax before they are preserved in our patent-pending Forever Capsules. Please go inside and sample some of our spa’s mineral water before your massage.”

 

Innate mistrust kept Melanie watching the construct as it slowly moved away from her. Once the machines were cleared out of the room, she walked in slowly and picked up the water from the counter. The water was refreshing, but had a tinny taste to it.

 

“I hate mineral water,” Mel grumbled as she surveyed the room for something worth noticing. The room was blank and sterile just like the rest of The Shelter.  Melanie carefully sat down. An unexplained grogginess spread from her arms, down to her legs, and rested in her brain. Trying to shake it off, she picked up a computer pad from the table next to her and scanned it for news stories, but was unable to focus on the print.

 

Before sleep overcame her, Melanie muttered, “Of course I’d forget my reading glasses.”