Wednesday, 30 December 2020
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
It certainly blew mine, sort of. Given that my mind has been blown by many concepts over the years, the relative impact is probably not as great on me as it might be on others. It's one of the reasons I love reading science fiction.
One could even suggest that I'm addicted to the sensation of having my mind blown.
Anyway, this video caught my eye, and I even referred to it in a recent conversation over zoom.
This is likely to be the last post of the year, so I will wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Thursday, 10 December 2020
Here's a blast from the past. One of my friends posted a review of OHMU War Machine, snippet below, go read the rest on Board Game Geek.
I only very recently (2020) learned of the existence of OHMU and was lucky enough to acquire a lone remaining copy from one of the authors. I always enjoy taking a look at older games like this, too see how games and their base assumptions changed over time.
When I posted my new acquisition online it got a number of responses from people who had heard of the game but never seen or read it and were curious about it, so I figured I might as well do a first impressions/review on it here.
So, spurred on by the feedback on BGG, and friends egging me on, I've gone and co-opted another fellow gamer, and I'm now working through a new draft of the Bad Dog rules.
What's also interesting for me, is seeing how much of the background fluff I wrote nearly 30 years ago for OHMU, has seeped into the the ideas behind my Gate Walker universe trilogy.
Anyway, more news as and when.
Wednesday, 25 November 2020
They're here for the long haul.
Monday, 23 November 2020
Another month has flown by. When I've not been painting miniatures to escape the world around me, I've been noodling about rules for playing a tabletop miniatures game set in my Gate Walker universe.
It's a way for me going back to my non-fiction writing roots.
Having failed to market the previous rule set I wrote*, it's important to minimize the risk of my mecha combat rules getting lost in the churn. So, I've been asking myself, what do I want to achieve with these rules?
An important question, because I'm aware that there are several new sets of mecha rules out, or are about to be released to market. I want to focus on command and control, including the use of UAVs/drones.
Currently the UAVs are for laying out the deployment points on the game table.
But, I just had this idea about how to use them in the game as artillery spotters for fire-support. Besides that, I want the game to feel like a battle taking place in the future, where everything is interconnected.
What I'm hoping to do is make my game different from other sets of rules, with it's own unique selling points to encourage players to buy these and instead of BattleTech or Heavy Gear.
A tall order. But a worthwhile goal to have. That's all for now, catch you all next month.
NB: *OHMU War Machine: Oversized Heavy Mechanised Units.
Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Life is still serving us lemons, and I'm overwhelmed with trying to turn them all into lemonade. but I found this article through my feeds on Defence News.
I also have a friend who is working on 5G connectivity for the Army, link in the picture below.
So, as you can imagine from reading my books, these are both very interesting projects as they show I wasn't too far off extrapolating the tech needed for my near future Mil-SF stories.
Currently I'm wrestling with a short story, project title: Omake – Japanese for Extra –The story of what happens to the lost robot explorer team seen briefly in my second novel.
I had planned to include this as an epilogue in Strike Dog, but readers thought it left too many questions hanging like a loose thread, and so I cut it out. Since then I've gone and expanded what was a couple of short paragraphs into several thousand words of odd snippets.
My plan is to turn these into a bunch of short stories about an android and robot dog.
But first I have to knock all the fragments I've written into a coherent narrative, rather than the number of short 'cool' scenes I have compiled. So, I intend to use the Omake name for a collection of these shorts, as and when I can get my ass into gear.
And, I haven't thought of a good title for the first of the tales of the android and his robodog, and what happened to them, their discoveries, and the consequences for them and mankind.
Keep well, stay safe, and catch you all on the bounce.
Saturday, 3 October 2020
I could ask myself where did September go, but what's the point? No posts here, but I did put one on my Facebook page.
I usually post here and there, but what can I say?
In a world where brain eating amoebas were found in water supplies in the United States, as just one example, it seems the best thing to do is batten down the hatches and ride out the oncoming storm.
So I just didn't bother.
However, I thought for those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, I'd post a link to my author page, which can be accessed by clicking the picture above.
In other news, I've been working on my models, which you can see on my other blog.
Meanwhile, I'm using the model making time to meditate on issues that perplex me, as one does; or at least I do.
I'm boggled when friends say they think I'm trying to change their minds with my pieces because I thought I made it clear that they were my attempt to argue through and understand the baying mobs on social media.
As I said to friends, fact don't change opinions, and if I wanted to try and change a persons opinion I wouldn't start with facts. For a start one has to know if the other person wants to change their opinions or needs to for practical reasons.
Even when those criteria are met, it's hard to change people's opinions/beliefs. It just is. Otherwise how does one understand therapeutic outcomes being so low, or relapses after a successful course of treatment?
Emotions are the key to our beliefs.
These start when one is born, and the environment you're brought up in feeds your experiential growth. Leaven with classical and operant conditioning, and by around the age of four or so you have the foundations laid for who you grow to become.
As time goes by, more core beliefs are laid down, and we build our assumptions on them.
By your teenage years your thoughts are driven by hormones, genetics, and experience. This is why it's difficult to change beliefs and or habits. Not impossible, just hard.
Harder than you think unless one has an epiphany from a traumatic event.
Anyway, that's all I have to say for now. I must get my act together and write more, but one step at a time, because change is hard.
Monday, 24 August 2020
|Start left to right, top to bottom: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Cordwainer Smith, A. E. van Vogt, H. P. Lovecraft, and Robert E. Howard; all favourites of mine.|
Continuing my dive into the rage that is SF fandom.
Hey, look! A buzzy, angry hornets' nest! What could possibly go wrong if I jam my face into it!(Or: why the "science fiction canon" is already dead and people should just let it fucking die, already) from John Scalzi Twitter feed, link to his blog.Yes but no, but maybe...
Okay, let me clarify.
Yes; because I agree that there's no need for readers to read the past, but without knowing the past it can be hard to understand the present.
No; because writers stand on the shoulders of those who came before. Readers read stories that are in dialogue with the past. So, no one has to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, though I think she wrote Gothic Horror, which is not SF. However, her work speaks to the human condition.
Maybe; because, this is all just opinion, which is fine, but it's just opinion about things that one can't actually control. Furthermore, starting arguments by creating unnecessary confrontations will lead nowhere good.
I don't require everyone to share my views.
I don't shun people who have views antithetical to mine. That doesn't mean I go out of my way to socialize with them either, only that I recognize that other people's opinions are different to mine, and are not my concern.
I see the root of these confrontations as having stemmed from our cultures economy creating technology that has outgrown our ability to cope with the stress it generates. So, I get why that can be threatening, especially if one feels disempowered, or disenfranchised, these are strong emotional triggers.
But, real diversity means tolerating ideas antithetical to your own; arguing against them not with emotional outbursts, but reason. By all means, emotions will drive the discourse, but don't let emotions overrule reason.
Monday, 17 August 2020
I'm gonna go ahead and say this for the cheap seats: What's the necessity for the Retro Hugos again...? It's not as if these titles don't already dominate discourse making it difficult for us newbies to ever achieve 'classic' status. Because I'm tired of racists and bigots. from Tade Thompson's Twitter feed.Well... my first response to seeing this Tweet was:
We're all tired of opinionated people who think that their opinions are more important than being kind to others.By-the-by Tade, if you're chasing classic status, I suggest you'd be better off writing another story. I would also add, that if any writer thinks they're work is worthy of being labeled a 'classic,' it will become so on its merits.
It's also well to remember that all great writers were once 'newbies.'
Also, it's almost impossible to discuss the topic of 'classic' works of the past, when people who are offended by them label the creators as racist and bigots. Any discussion becomes mired in controversy, because the topic is seen as defending the indefensible.
However, hold on a moment, here's my take.
I know the movement started by calling out 'recent' problematical writers, editors, and artists (and by recent anything with the last century), but I've got to ask, when are we going to stop? Also, worth asking, what makes anyone qualified to cancel artists, and or the people who like that artists work, which only leads too more questions?
But if you cancel creators who offend you, who gets canceled next?
And, when does the 'cancel movement' stop? By this I mean, both when as in how long the canceling goes on, and when as in the historical cut-off date.
What those promoting cancel culture seem to have forgotten, is that labeling past SF authors as racists and bigots, by suppressing their work, is the first step of turning people into 'things.'
I would also argue that this is made worse by those who support the labeling living people who like older works as racists and fascists too. I mean, labeling people as things is arguably what leads to bigotry.
This may sound a touch polemical, but I would argue is even worse, because the dead no longer care, whereas the living do. Think back to the Puritans as one example where their desire to cancel the culture of their time led nowhere good.
And one more thing, Tade; the Hugo's didn't come into existence until 1953, and if you think that SF didn't start before that date, then you're sorely deluded.
Monday, 10 August 2020
|Jeanette Ng would cancel both of the men here, and anyone reading their work.|
Another year has passed. Another set of Hugo's have been won. And another row has broken out in fandom. What a surprise. Not!
For those who aren't up on the history of science fiction, let's just say that the roots of SF, as a genre, began circa 1921 (give or take), as a way of justifying literature that wasn't aimed at improving the reader, but rather providing some entertainment.
Exciting stories featuring new technology.
Hugo Gernsback coined the term "scientifiction*," for scientific based fiction, which later became science fiction. Or, as Forrest J. Ackerman later called it, Sci-Fi.
The SF genre started in the pulps as mere "entertainment," that has arguably evolved over the years into a literature that examines the impact of technology on the human condition.
Arguably, because a genre is just a marketing category. Whether or not stories have to comment on the human condition versus just being entertaining is arguable; an opinion, not a fact.
This years row is over various faults like: how dare George R. R. Martin's mispronounce authors names; the time that the virtual award ceremony ran with his waffle; then the final straw, GRRM mentioning the names of people who won this years Retro Hugo awards, promoting their importance to the genre, despite having been deemed unmentionable, after Jeanette Ng canceled them.
Arguments over these issues that have been all across SF&F social media.
Comments from both SF&F fans and professionals, commentary that frankly beggars belief. It's like children calling each other names in the playground, except these people aren't children, and an an awful lot of them want to cancel writers who they find problematical.
Please don't get me wrong on this, one has to face the fact that neither were nice men, but what they brought to the world has value beyond their faults.
Both of Lovecraft's parents died while confined in a psychiatric hospital, and as a child he had chorea minor, and later what appears to have been atypical depression. He also died at age 46; health outcomes back then were poor, and today we know that both genetics and the environment can affect how people grow up to become who they are.
None of which forgives his bigotry.
But, to deny his contribution to SF&F for being a bad person is just plain wrong. He wrote within a modern tradition of existential nihilism, explored the delusions of living in an anthropomorphic universe, and addressed mankind's insignificance in the cosmic scheme of things.
Creating the Mythos alone, argues that Lovecraft's influence transcends his feet of clay. That and the fact that he is still being discussed till this day, inspiring writers to create cosmic horror, says it all.
Campbell's contribution to SF&F are twofold: he wrote (Who Goes There, which became the film The Thing); and his editorship of Astounding Magazine.
He died at the age of 61, which would now be considered young. And I couldn't help but notice that his pictures show him smoking. We now know that smoking affects the respiratory system, and blood circulation to the brain.
I mention this, because as Charlie Stross once observed, isn't it funny how men of a certain age tend to have changes of personality from health issues (high blood pressure). Again, none of this forgives his bigotry but, those times were not our times.
Things were different then. To deny that Campbell totally reshaped the genre, transforming SF from its Pulp roots into a discussion of how technology will affect the human condition, and cancel him, is again just wrong.
By all means have an opinion. But stating opinions to generate arguments, which are not facts, is pointless.
One doesn't need to subscribe to the values of creators to see that their creations add to the richness of the human condition. Not withstanding the fact that both Campbell and Lovecraft were both crazy nut jobs, men with feet of clay, doesn't mean the good they did should be thrown out with the bad.
Jeanette Ng, and those who support canceling people are doing more damage to the genre than either Lovecraft or Campbell.
NB: *1915 according to Pulp Librarian @PulpLibrarian
Thursday, 16 July 2020
|I decided that this model of Object 295 needed some decals to make it pop.|
The last month or so has been getting on top of me. Dealing with people shouting in outrage at [insert description here] of whatever has pushed their emotional button.
Quite frankly, I no longer give a damn. Darwin will sort this out.
So, I've been quiet, taking the time to do things I enjoy, because that's usually the best strategy for dealing with emotions that are overwhelming one. Currently I'm painting combat armor suits. Practicing with my new wet palette different ways of making my miniatures look cool.
That's all for now. Stay safe, keep well.
Sunday, 21 June 2020
I came across Sabine Hossenfelder during my research into science stuff for my novels. She is sometimes controversial, her stance against a new collider to replace the Large Hadron Collider, which has ruffled a few feathers of her fellow physicists.
She's a good role model for those who want to present science in an accessible manner.
Monday, 15 June 2020
In late news, due to being distracted by current world events, I can be heard on episode 155 SciFi Shenanigans Podcast, titled MilSciFi Panel 3 – British Edition, hosted by JR Handley with my fellow Mil-SF authors Tim C Taylor, and Ralph Kern.
In other news, after a long hiatus I've started writing, refreshed after a long, much needed break to dig myself out of the hole I was in.
Thursday, 4 June 2020
Words fail me, which is a thing I grapple with. This post is me grappling with with the current social media fire sale: where reasonable people dismiss any feedback that contradicts their beliefs and opinions.
When objections are dismissed, it makes it impossible to discuss the topic outside of the "box" it is framed in; some examples:
You're not arguing in good faith.
You give yourself away as having ill intent.
This is not up for discussion (it has all been discussed before, your views are unwelcome, detrimental to the cause).
Then actual labeling people as objects (you're racist, you're a fascists etc.).
This is all part and parcel of confrontation. However, confrontation can be positive or negative. Negative confrontations start from assuming the other person is behaving badly.
I will listen to responses. I recognize that I am very assertive, so please feel free to call me out if:
I cause people to panic.
I treat people as objects.
So this post is me owning my understanding by processing my thoughts into words.
I want people to talk with me about SF fandom or larger societal issues. Therefore, I want confrontations on social media around SF fandom or the larger society to be positive.
Let's start with current problem du jour: Black Lives Matter.
Seems like a harmless enough statement, but how often have you heard, All Lives Matter?
How do you respond? Is it:
Of course all lives matter, or
This isn't about white people, but black people dying at the hands of white cops or white Americans murdering Blacks as part of systemic institutionalized racism.
If it's the first and a person has responded with the second response what happens next? My guess is a retort, often indicative of "what did I do wrong?" or very broadly panic, from being told they're at fault.
I have lost count of the number of times I've seen this happen, escalating the confrontation into an argument? Then I see people start rolling out the objections I listed at the beginning of the post.
Is it common for the confrontation to end in a positive result? Let me define the minimum level for a positive result:
Come to a common ground or agree to disagree in a polite and civil exchange.
I find the answer to this question is generally "no" which has driven me to write this post.
Let me start by laying out my assumptions and process.
Assumptions & Process
I start with positive assumptions, because we all have implicit assumptions and bias, so make them positive.
I don't assume malice when thoughtlessness is always a better explanation. I assume people are well-meaning with good intentions, and at worst just ill informed. I'm open to feedback that defines the problem with my response.
I don't respond when I'm angry, because emotions should serve me, not control me.
I analyze all behaviours through my core profession: cognitive behavioural therapy. This means I look at thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Black Lives Matter is a simple slogan meant to encourage rapport and empathy for those who have been killed.
So when I reply, All Lives Matter; I'm giving feedback. If my feedback is denied, by telling me I'm wrong, then what has happened is a confrontation.
My problem with it, and most slogans, is simple: it automatically excludes rather than includes, which is fine – if that's the aim – but here it seems to me to be contrary to the goal.
What has happened is a failure of the slogan to communicate what was intended.
If you were a person who came to me for therapy, and told me that every time you used a particular phrase you got a negative response, despite your good intentions, I would say words to the effect:
"How long will you need to be convinced that this isn't working out as you planned?"
I'll add a caveat here, people often do things repeatedly expecting a different result next time, and on occasion it's not what's being said but how it's said.
Then I would explore with my client a way of saying what they want to say more effectively.
So let me repeat, the sentiment behind a slogan may well have good intentions and still fail; if so, functionally, it becomes a poor slogan.
Then, assuming you want to create understanding, when confronted by answers you don't like, or cause you to become angry, instead of challenging the statement, ask them to help you understand their answer.
If your response includes any of these assumptions:
They're not arguing in good faith; They have ill intent; This is not up for discussion (it has all been discussed before, their views are wrong); or you label them with a slur such as racist, or fascist.
Stop. All that has happened is that the slogans has generated negative feedback. When a slogan generates negative feedback, a reappraisal is required.
You have to ask yourself is that what you want? Keep it SMART and remember KISS:
Specific. KeepMeasurable ItAchievable Short andRealistic Simple.Time frame.
This post is an example of me asking people to help me understand what benefit is there from making well intentioned statements that generate conflict.
Understand that people's behaviours are in response to yours. Understanding them means taking feedback, and owning the responsibility for failure to communicate. If you wish to succeed, it starts with listening.
Remember my goal is to either to come to a common understanding or to agree to disagree in a polite and civil exchange.
I will listen to your feedback of this post because I take ownership of what I say.
Terms & Conditions Apply
You can't control what other people do. You are not responsible for other people's feelings. The best anybody can do... is be a positive influence.
Dwelling on the past injustices won't make things better. Accept what has happened and move forward.
When confronting a statement be polite and civil. State what your issue is, what you want, and check with the other person that they've understood you.
Note: The title of this piece is an allusion to the fact that "free speech" doesn't mean you can shout "fire" in a crowded theatre, which should also provide context to why I labeled the current social media wars a "fire sale."
Edited to Add
One of many books on managing conflict.
Wednesday, 20 May 2020
The best way to predict your future is to create it. – Abraham LincolnI've been taking a break from stuff, which is ironic in that we're in lock-down and taking a break from social interactions is the root cause of my need to keep my head down and do other stuff.
I signed up for a bunch of online writing courses that are keeping me busy, and the space to assess my shortfalls in my story telling. I want to be a writer whose work is accessible, and Baen's feedback about my first novel not being straightforward enough is, five or six years after the fact is now starting to make more sense.
So I'm working on that (it's a craft problem, hence the online writing course should go a long way to addressing the problem). After all, I want people to read my stories.
I think they're fun to write and I want people to find them fun to read.
Part of the reason I've needed to withdraw is the responses on my social media about the corona virus.
People don't seem to understand that the measures by China were, and are, practically and sociopolitically impossible in most of the West, but especially in America and Britain, because we share a common political ancestor.
Practically impossible because the financial and business structures of both countries have undermined the ability of their respective governments to govern competently.
Sociopolitically impossible because right wing elements are protesting against the measures to contain the virus, while ironically the left wing protests against the methods that might allow said containment. All for very good reasons on both sides of the debate.
We all should be concerned about the direction our societies are heading.
We've changed our society, connected people through the internet, turning people into things. Human beings didn't evolve to cope with what we've created. The result is that discourse has become a poisoned chalice that no politician, pundit, or mainstream news source can touch without a mob descending on all and sundry.
I have no answers, which makes me less than useful than a chocolate teapot. So I'm going off to read some good books.
At least that will be fun. Have fun, stay safe.
Tuesday, 5 May 2020
Friday, 17 April 2020
Have recently blitzed through Kristine Kathryn Rusch's The Diving Universe, after being compelled to buy all the books in this series, which should tell you everything you need to know about how much we enjoyed reading them.
An author who I highly recommended, so much so that we've started on her Retrieval Artist series, and today the next two books came in our Amazon delivery.
Along with more books to go on my to be read pile, including Myke Cole's latest. So this should keep us busy during the lockdown.
Tuesday, 7 April 2020
To say things are a bit distracting is like saying water is wet, the sky is blue, and grass is green. Obvious and yet an understatement that belies the difficulty in understanding how things work now that Corvid19 is sweeping the world.
But enough of that. It is far too easy to be sucked into the distracting distress going on around us. So here's a list for those of my readers who might like to write during this time they are locked in their homes.
A story is a character in a setting with a problem who has opinions.
The protagonist's story is driven by Things. Getting. Worse! Successes always leads to another problem, when things no longer get worse, the story is over.
The antagonist's story is driven by plans coming together until defeated.
There is a Problem; Complications ensue, the character's life changes.
Scenes: Advance the plot; Explain the background or backstory; Deepen the characterization.
Basic Themes of Plots
Overcome the Monster
Voyage & Return
Rags to Riches
1. Man vs. Man: The problem is another character (Bob needs to defeat Alice to become Class President).
2. Man vs. Self: The problem lies inside the protagonist (Bob doesn't know how to express his emotions to Alice).
3. Man vs. Nature: The problem comes from natural sources (Bob's town is destroyed by a volcano, or Alice is sick).
4. Man vs. Society: The problem is the social environment (Bob struggles to maintain his dignity in an ignorant community after receiving an Abomination Accusation Attack).
5. Man vs. God/Fate: The problem is destiny, eventuality, fate, or divine will (Bob does not want to fulfill a prophecy that he will lose his family).
6. Man Caught in the Middle: Of other characters or conflicts.
7. Male versus Female: Battle of the sexes.
8. Man vs. Machine, as in machinery. Most commonly told from the perspective of a worker being replaced by a machine.
Novels have different structures for example:
1. Action structure: A leader of a team work to overcome the problems they face.
2. Puzzle structure: A person solves a puzzle, with people helping them.
3. Romance structure: two people meet, problems ensue.
Opening Chapters of a Novel
Introduce the hero
Introduce the villain
Introduce the friends/mentor
Other POV to shock
Sunday, 29 March 2020
I have two major interest; The first is the hard question of what is consciousness; and the second is where are all the aliens?
This Galactic Colonization video I found that discusses a recent paper: The Fermi Paradox and the Aurora Effect: Exo-civilization Settlement, Expansion and Steady States.
What I found useful is the analysis of the confounding variables and the possible solutions to explain what they call, "Fact A:" why we haven't met aliens or found signs of them visiting Earth.
Tagging Dr. Brin who may have an opinion on this?
Friday, 20 March 2020
When I wrote Bad Dog I had a vision of what the lead character's combat armor suit looked like. I have over the last seven years built models to acts as a guides for the cover art of my novels, which you've seen here.
But I'm not only a fan of science fiction, for as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed playing futuristic table top wargames like: BattleTech, Ogre/GEV, and Star Wars X-Wing.
So I dearly want to be able to play games in my own universe, and as my long term wargaming friends know I have a lot of 1/300th - 6mm armies. However, my stories feature small infantry unit tactics with support elements, and my go to scale is small, which makes the models hard to see.
So my original plan had been to go with Dream Pod 9s 1/144th - 10mm Heavy Gear range, because they're a nice size.
But, I've been frustrated trying to find the right models for power armor and combat androids. Lots of choice in 1/100th - 15mm, but nothing that quite tickles my fancy in the smaller scale, hence I've decided to go up a scale, using original large RAFM Heavy Gears.
Readers saw my take on Captain Tachikoma's Dog here.
This new larger model represents Ferretti's Air Force Security Force Buster: CAS-C4P: Combat Armor System Dash C4 (Command, Control, Communication & Computer), Model P, which makes its first appearance in Ghost Dog.
These models have wet my appetite for making more 1/100th - 15mm scale mecha.
Wednesday, 11 March 2020
YouBionic forearm I found on YouTube, as one does, which is just cool.
I deliberately left how the mecha in my novels are driven to avoid Zeerust (yesterday's vision of tomorrow), warning the link will take you to TVTropes, and you're at risk of losing hours of time browsing.
I know I just did.
Catch you all on the bounce.
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Found this Patrick Rothfuss piece talking about Terry Pratchett with a transcript of an interview. Here's a clip:
The full post can be found here. It's well worth reading as a reminder that the root of all stories lies in the imagination.
Monday, 24 February 2020
|Left to right: Juliet Kemp, Roz Kaveney, and Tamsyn Muir.|
But for some people, fandom is a way of life. I tend to fall into the camp that sees fandom is/as just another goddam hobby.
The first talk was by Roz Kaveney, a well known big name British fan. She gave a laid back talk about her early life, her interests, and things that she's passionate about. Roz writes both fiction and non-fiction, and for the Times literary Supplement.
Next up was Tamsyn Muir, who I'd never heard of, but she was charming and witty, which goes a long way in my book.
Tamsyn's writing sounds interesting. After all, who couldn't fail to be interested in Lesbian necromancers in space! Colour me interested. Besides, I exchanged a few words with her, and her positive response to hearing that I write Mil-SF made me like her.
Call me biased.
Finally, Juliet Kemp did her talk, which was slightly marred by having lost her voice. She persevered and she's on the Locus 2018 recommended reading list.
After the individual talks there was the tradition panel discussion, which was driven by questions from the audience that went well. So, by the end of the day I had thoroughly enjoyed the convention.
Thursday, 20 February 2020
In space, without the filtering of Earth’s atmosphere, objects are bombarded with increased photon-energies in the form of X-rays, gamma-rays, and charged particles, all of which cause intense radiation damage. It would be ideal not only to withstand, but to actually harvest that radiation for electrical energy.
The lab of László Forró at EPFL, led by postdocs Bálint Náfrádi and Endre Horváth, have discovered that methylammonium lead iodide (CH3NH3PbI3) can fulfill this purpose. This is a material already used in conventional perovskite solar cells, where it harvests visible-light photons that are then converted into electricity.
Monday, 17 February 2020
Though the word wargame is too strong a word for what is ultimately an activity that involves either pushing bits of cardboard or small models around a table, and throwing dice.
I have a largish collection of wargaming figures that I've bought over the years, and my friends know that I love to make my own designs. This involves me converting models to more closely represent a specific version, or more often than not, doing extensive kit-bashing to make what I want.
Above is my latest miniature, a model to represent Captain Tachikoma's new ride that will feature on the cover of Red Dogs: a Marine Corps CASE-2XC-Mod-2E.
I like to think of this as inspiration through model making.
Tuesday, 4 February 2020
Since Christmas, things have been getting better, but I still haven't quite managed to get into my writing groove. However, I have started making models of the character mecha in my books. You can see what I'm doing over on my other blog.
I like turning ideas into things. The act of creating a model inspires ideas; a bit like playing when I was a child. My imagination takes over, and ideas for stories take shape.
In the meantime, I'm editing my next novel, The Bureau.
I've also started a short story called, Omake; the tale of a little lost robot and its companion. I shall try and sell that to a magazine.
And finally, I've been working on Two Moons, restructuring the order of scenes and inserting new scenes in the earlier parts as foreshadowing for what happens later.
Monday, 27 January 2020
The video above is a visualization created with mathematics of a spacetime manifold. I thought this was an excellent representation of what looking at what our universe would look seen in 4D spacetime.
Yep, this is the stuff that goes through my head, and all part of the research that goes into my Gate Walkers holographic multiverse setting.
Wednesday, 22 January 2020
Mission Two is now available and in due course there should be a working World of Drei series page on Amazon (currently up, and sorted).
Anyway, at last Mission Two is on sale.
Rendered unconscious by an explosion, Lieutenant Morozova woke to a vision of a crystal mountain. Now caught between life and death, she must not only survive the rigors of war, but also the challenge of the mythical world of Russian legends.
The fourth episode set in the World of Drei universe, "Mission Two," a brilliantly ingenious vision of future war deepens the human story behind those who face an unrelenting opponent.
Go make your day brighter by getting yourself a copy.
Thursday, 16 January 2020
Don't let the click-bait title put you off. Having watched this, it puts into context why the science is mistrusted, because the general public don't fully understand the scientific method.
Add into that the tendency for click-bait titles in reporting and we end up where both sides of the debate (deniers versus supporters) are attacking the science.
This discusses the models and how the theory doesn't translate well into specific predictions. Anyway, well worth watching.
Monday, 6 January 2020
Adventure: Man invents car, gets into a car chase with a villain.It is to the last type of story that inspired today's post.
Gadget: Man invents car, holds lecture on how it works.
Social: Man invents car, gets stuck in traffic in the suburbs.
One of the few things that's unique to the SF genre is working out the unintended consequences of any new technology or changes in cultural mores etc.. Asimov himself wrote about mobile phones in his robot novels, which I've mentioned before, had a scene where a character apologizes that he can't speak as he's in a public space.
Oh, if only that were true, huh!?
So who would have predicted pronoun choice as a sociocultural prediction? I know some authors wrote about variant genders, or the ability to change sex, but who would've thought that this would lead to people introducing themselves with a declaration of their preferred gender?
Not me. Yet here we are.
I had to go away and think about this, have been mulling it over for several years. At one level I'm bothered by people declaring their gender pronouns, but on the other hand I'm a boring old fart and the times they are a changing. I generally predisposed to accept changes if they are for the better.
I mean, you'd be crazy not to. Amirite? Hah!
So while I may not be in the habit of declaring my preferred pronoun, I'm cool with it.
Of course if pushed my instinctual reaction would be, you're smart, figure it out. Yeah, guess I've gotta work on being more agreeable. However, an exchange I had with a friend who suggested, fucker, you fucker as the new go to pronoun, which I should've seen coming.
So, the unintended consequences of social change may lead to unintended outcomes, and therefore one should be careful what you wish for. The future's bright and stranger than you can imagine.
Saturday, 4 January 2020
Just for fun, no guarantees, my predictions for 2020:
1. Well intentioned people will remain ill informed.Have at it. Catch you on the bounce.
2. We have not reached peak Donner-Kruger, the stupid will burn the world.
3. Ad hominem attacks will continue to push people into opposite camps.
4. Disagreeing with a person will be evidence of you being a racist, fascist, homophobe etc.
5. Social media continues to hack our behaviours.
6. Pedantic debates will rise over the correct use of language and pronouns etc.
7. People will be outraged at other people being outrageous.
8. The drive to increase diversity will lead to less diversity of opinions.
9. Speaking truth to power will continue creating an unlikely alliance of left wing feminists supporting Alt-right misogynists.
10. Freedom of speech has become a weapon used by both left and right to define the other side as evil.
11. Debates will center on feelings and the lack of good faith by both sides.
12. People will forget that other people's opinions are not their concern.
13. Civility in discourse is drowned out by cancel culture.
14. Everybody on both sides of the political divide will be disappointed in:
a. Any political outcomes.
b. Efforts to address climate change.
c. Arguing over capitalism versus Marxism.
15. People still don’t understand the scientific method.
16. People still want simple solutions to complex problems.
17. The A.I apocalypse will not happen.
18. We will not meet aliens, but that isn’t proof of the Fermi paradox either.
19. World War 3 won’t start (edgy prediction).
20. Comedians will be more politically astute than the mainstream media.
Thursday, 2 January 2020
I've had a lovely Xmas break with my partner, and while it was quiet with only one trip out for lunch with friends on New Years day, we've both been enjoying the chance to chillax.
Mostly we've been catching up with TV shows: watched the Good Place Season one, which was so good we had to immediately get Season two, an excellent show that tickled my interest in philosophy (the discipline I love and hate in equal measure); followed by Season two of The Orville, which was excellent; then Season two of Discovery, which was also very good, but I could have done with a little less emoting in some of the scenes that interrupted the pace.
We've both been reading, and I managed to finished a lot of good books.
First up were the six books in the space opera/Mil-SF Frontlines series by Mark Kloos, highly recommended. Read books nine through to thirteen of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, which are compulsively readable; and after that it was Diane Rowland's White Trash Zombie series books five and six.
And as a result I've been a feeling a lot brighter.
In other news about the state of the author, on New Years eve I had a steroid injection into my right thumb. Hopefully this means in a week or so I will be able to use both hands at the same time, which will be a relief (given that not being able to use both hands made the last year suck big time).
Just one of the many fall-outs of my rheumatoid arthritis returning in 2018. An unwelcome relapse caused by the stress from my old job with the NHS. But 2019 was made worse when the side-effects of my anti-rheumatoid medication sent me down into the depths of despair, which knocked me for six.
Though, as I sit here thinking back over the last ten years, I really need to remember how bad things were back in 2010 for a sense of perspective.
Back then I was taking methotrexate to treat my rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, the medication suppresses the immune system, which meant the cysts in my breasts, became inflamed and went septic. That landed me in hospital and having emergency surgery.
So 2019 wasn't as bad as 2010.
However, the realization that no matter how much I enjoy being a therapist, the stress of dealing with patient's emotional upsets is not doing my health any good, and that career is over.
But, I must be grateful for the chance this has afforded me to start writing. Bringing my stories to market has been a challenge, but I've learnt so much that I see the past experiences as a silver lining of the cloud that has blighted my career.
Anyway, enough maudlin reflection.
I've been happily working on collecting the first three novelettes of my World of Drei stories. This will be the first volume of an open ended series about the emergence of an AI during a Russian civil war. It has been fun to do, and an interesting direction has emerged from it, but more news about that in another post.
In the meantime I'm waiting for the book to come back from copy editing, so while I'm waiting I've put the cover up as a tease for everyone to enjoy. You may also have noticed I re-did the covers of the first three stories too.
OK, that covers everything I want to say, so I will end now by wishing all my readers a happy and prosperous New Year. Catch you all on the bounce.
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