Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Register to vote/Check your voter status


It seems every four years the political talking heads come out and say that “This election is the most important election of the modern era.” And you know what, for 2020, they might actually be right.  Because whether you think everything is hunky-dory, or you think the best description of the country is a dumpster fire, there will be major repercussions whoever wins this November.

Now you could just sit back and say, “Why bother voting when the system is broken?” Well, one aspect of why the system is broken is because too many people don’t bother being a part of it.  The only way to have a government that reflects the country is if the majority of the people participated in choosing that government.  Our government is not perfect – it’s very, very far from perfect – but not voting is you saying you’ll just take whatever happens.  And if you don’t like what you’re given, well, you can’t complain because you had the chance to make your voice heard and chose not to.

The way to make your voice heard is to register to vote.  How to register should be laid out on your state’s website.  But even if you’ve already registered, you should take the time to check your registration status, which I think is an option on most state websites.  (You may also wish to double check on your polling place.)  An important reason to do this now, is that there are several reasons why your status could be wrong: you moved and forgot to update it, a clerical error, or maybe you were caught up in an overly enthusiastic purge.  Whatever the reason, if you check now and find a problem you can get it all worked out before Election Day.  Election Day is hectic enough without people waiting in line only to find out there’s an issue.

So register to vote, or check your status, so everything will be in order come November 3rd and you can make sure your voice will be heard, in this, the most important election of the modern era.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

I need help from Latin speakers

Nine years ago, I wrote a short story about people uploading their consciousness to computers and becoming a new species.  At the time, I knew a guy who – out of boredom, or something – was teaching himself Latin.  I asked him for help in naming this new species.  What he came up with was Homo narratus, which he said meant “man recorded” since the Romans didn’t have a word for uploaded.  Anyway, I’m working on a collection of short stories and I’m including that one.  What I would like to know is does Homo narratus make sense, or is there an even better way to phrase it.  I probably haven’t talked to that guy in like eight years, and it would be a weird way to reconnect to just ask how his Latin is.  So if you know Latin, I’d really appreciate your comments.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Fourth of July Sale!

For the last few years, I’ve tried to have a free sale for my ebook of political stories, Political Pies, around the Fourth of July.  But this year – because of everything – I figured I’d include a few of my other ebooks as well.  So if you are so disgusted with real politics you don’t want to even read fictional politics, you have a few other choices.  All of these will be free to download from Wednesday July 1st, through Sunday July 5th.  So grab them before you get too drunk.

Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into this anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.


A Man of Few Words


A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

 

The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars


Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

 

Duty


Who cleans up the mess when the time machine malfunctions?

 

A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories


Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. “A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories” contains five of my short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A ticking potato


Fifteen or twenty years ago, I was at some book sale and I came across a collection of condensed novels.  I think some science fiction magazine back in the 80’s condensed three or four novels from the early 1900’s to fit in a 100 or so page digest sized magazine.  I picked it up – for maybe a dollar – because I do have an interest in classic stories, to see what has and hasn’t changed in storytelling over the last century.  Of course, things don’t often go to the front of my “To Read” pile so it was some time before I started reading it.  But I didn’t get too far.

I don’t remember the title or author of the first story, all I remember is that it was about some guy who had some invention and he needed money to build it, so he went to an estranged, rich uncle.  The uncle invited him to dinner, and the first course comes out and they talk for a bit.  The first course is clean up, the second is brought out, and they talk a bit more.  And I got so thrown out of the story that I had to stop.  What’s the issue, you ask?  Well, when I say they talked a bit, I mean it was like, the First Course arrives, “How’s your sister?” “She died last year of TB.” “I’m dreadfully sorry.” “These things happen.” First Course removed, Second Course arrives.  “How go your studies?” “Very well.” Second Course removed, Third Course arrives.

Now, I don’t know if in the original version their conversation was more in-depth, or if there were long, awkward silences where the narrator looked around at the paintings, or what.  If I can ever find that magazine again – it’s probably in a box in the attic – I’d love to look up the original novel to see what was cut out.  But by the Third Course in less than a page, I was completely out of the story.  I’m not sure what deeper meaning there could be for us having to know what each course was, so I’m not sure why those details were kept. 

I bring all that up, because I’m … I guess you could say sensitive to the flow of time in stories.  For example, something that makes me groan every time I see it is a standard thing in cop shows.  In one scene the main characters are talking at the station when they get a call for a body in a parking structure downtown.  The next scene they get out of their car at the parking structure and continue their conversation as if there wasn’t a twenty minute car ride in the middle.  I understand it’s done because they have the set for the station, and the set for the murder scene, so they want to use them as much as possible.  And it would cost too much to set up a third set in a car and CGI the traffic through the windows.  I understand that, but it still takes me out of the show. 

Fortunately, when writing a story, we’re not limited by a set budget.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t issues.  For example, in one of my current projects, these people are staying out in the woods for a while and are eating potatoes and fish cooked over a campfire.  My characters will be talking and putting food on to cook.  They’ll then talk for two or three pages.  So far, so good.  But then, maybe only five minutes have passed in their world so I can’t just have them eating still uncooked potatoes.  But I don’t want to just end the scene and come back with them eating or cleaning up and have them start the conversation again.  Did they just sit around the campfire for twenty minutes without saying anything of importance?

I realize that few people would bat an eye if I continued a conversation after a time jump, but it irks me.  I’m doing my best to have natural, realistic, flowing dialogue that drops in little bits of plot exposition, but I don’t want to write half-an-hour’s worth of in world dialogue while the potatoes cook.  My solution, as such, is once I’ve dropped enough plot points, I have a character – usually the dragon – tell a story.  And I do lead the conversation to a story, I don’t just have the dragon stand up in the middle of something and go, “Story time.” I don’t have to write the actual story, just have her start telling a story about X and have some of my main character’s thoughts.  So in a paragraph or two I can have a story that takes as long to tell as the potatoes need to cook.  And then the normal conversation can begin again as they eat.  So they’re not eating raw potatoes, they’re not sitting around the campfire silently, and while there is a time gap it comes without the bluntness of “End Scene.”

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Coronavirus sale II!


So you’re still stuck at home, trying to make masks out of hoarded TP, you’ve binged everything on Netflix, and you’ve read everything on your Kindle, but you’re trying to save your money since you don’t know when you’ll go back to work so you’re not downloading anything new.  Well, here’s your chance to get six ebooks for free.  Between Monday April 6 and Friday April 10, you’ll be able to download these six of my ebooks for the price of a few clicks. 



Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into this anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.



Over the years, I’ve posted several short stories on websites that later – for one reason or another – died. While the corpses of some of these sites are still around where you can read the stories, many have vanished from the internet. And since there are few sites that will publish such previously published works, the only way you could read them was if I self-published them in a collection.

In addition to such “lost” stories, I’ve included some new stories that – for one reason or another – I feel I’d have a hard time finding someone to publish them. So “Seventh Story Stockpile” basically contains stories I didn’t know what to do with. But now I can move on to other projects.



On The Day, for reasons unknown, people began changing. They went to sleep as their old selves and woke in their beds in different bodies: bodies that had belonged to other people. And each time they fall asleep, they wake in a new body. Set months later, “The Only Certainty” follows Derrick Gorton on an average day in this new world as he deals with food shortages, the semi-collapse of society, and how to finish his latest novel.



Partway to a new colony world, board member Geoffrey Ames is woken from hibernation by the caretaking crew of the Lucian. They require him to look into the matter of their fellow crewman Morgan Heller. Morgan’s claims – such as being over 1500 years old – would normally land him in the psychiatric ward, except he can back up some of his other claims.



“Rise” is a standalone story set in my Human Republic Universe. The story follows the events after the tragic deaths of the colonists on a small colony in a distant star system.



Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.