Building Cylinders in Conan Exiles Part 1

April 8th, 2017

meI know; I’ve gone and done it again - vanished for weeks while I obsessed on a new project. This time it’s the new online game Conan Exiles, which is currently in Early Access.

What has excited me the most about Conan Exiles is the ability to build permanent structures from local materials. Today I’d like to give an example of this, and take you step by step though the construction of my Mark I Cylinder, a building design that is modular and expandable, with plenty of room, while maintaining a minimal footprint on the land.

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step00The first thing you will need is a patch of ground that is preferable free of weeds. It’s annoying to have bushes sprouting up in the basement. It would be ideal if the patch of ground you select for your cylinder is completely level, but as we shall see that is not really necessary if you take care in setting your foundations.

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step01The first thing you will do is set down a triangular foundation stone. This picture shows how NOT to do it. When you set down the stone the game will tend to place it flush with the ground. Why is this a problem? Because unless your land is absolutely flat, you will run into problems. Specifically, as you place more of the foundation if the land is not flat you can end up with foundation pieces with one or more corners covered by sand. When this happens, you will not be able to place the next level of stones on top of them.

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step02Instead, one the stone appears appears flush with the ground hold down the left SHIFT key and srin the mouse wheel. You will find you can move the stone up and down before you finalize its placement. Move it partly up out of the ground as shown. You can do this less for more flatter ground but you will have to raise it more for more tilted ground. The rest of the foundation will snap to it at the same height it was placed, and if you do this correctly ALL of your foundation stone corners will be uncovered so that the next layer will place on them with no problem.

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step03Now place 5 more triangular foundations stones snapped to the first one to form a hexagon out of six triangles. I hopped up on top so you could see how they fit together.
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step04The next step is to place 6 square foundation stones, each sticking out from a triangle, like the petals of a flower. You’ll notice that this leaves triangular gaps between the squares.

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step05

Now place 6 more triangles into the gaps between the squares.

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step06When you are finished you will have a foundation that is a 12-sided approximation to a flat disk.

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step07Time to add the first floor outer wall. Don’t forget the doorway! When you place it the label “Outer face” should look backwards….because you will be inside, looking at the INNER face of the door. Place the door frame on one of the 6 square foundation stones. This will turn out to be handy for spacing the stairs, as we shall see soon..

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step08

After you have the doorway placed, begin placing the 11 remaining wall pieces. I like to use “sandstone frame” for the walls instead of “sandstone wall” because it gives you windows. It’s nice to be able to see outside if you have to — and keeps the fairly small rooms of the MK 1 from feeling cramped.

As before, make sure you see “Outer face” backwards when you place them.

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step09On top of the 11 wall pieces and the doorway, add a second level of 12 wall pieces to give the room you are making a nice high ceiling. If you do not do this you will get more rooms - but with very little headroom especially for tall avatars.

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step10Since you raised up the foundation to avoid corners being underground, you should probably add stairs to the outside of the doorway. If your ground was really flat, you might get to skip the stairs. I add them just in case the game doesn’t let me walk right into the ground floor from outside.

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step11 It is OK if most of the stairs are underground. The game does not care. If you skip the stairs and your foundation is a little high because of tilted land, you will have to hit the jump key to get in which is a hassle. So add the stairs.

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step12At this point you could add a ceiling but why do that? By building up you can add as many rooms as you like without using up any more ground! However, you will need stairs to reach the upper levels. Let me show you how to add them. You can figure this out on your own but hey, let me save you some time so that you can use that time playing instead. Assuming you placed the doorway on a square foundation stone, face the doorway from inside, turn to your right, and find the next triangular foundation AFTER the triangles on either side of the door.

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step13Tilt your view up a little and place a triangular ceiling piece above the triangle foundation between the first and second layer of windows as shown. It will not be part of a ceiling; this is a little landing between two flights of stairs you will need to reach the second floor.

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step14Now you will connect the ground floor triangle with the one you just placed. We do this because their facing sides are parallel which the stairs need since the stairs are like a tilted square. The stairs will probably look wrong as shown, and this IS wrong! But don’t worry. Do not click the mouse button yet to finalize them. Instead, spin the mouse wheel WITHOUT holding down a SHIFT key. The stairs will flip though several orientations. You want the one where the stairs are against the wall and parallel to it. Like in the next picture.

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step15This is what you want. When the stairs are parallel to the wall and connecting to the upper triangle THEN click the left mouse button to finalize them.

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step16The stairs will take the space between two triangles. Now turn a little more the right and add a second triangular ceiling piece on TOP of the second layer of wall pieces as shown. After you do this, you can add the second flight of stairs to connect to this piece and enable access to the second floor.

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step17Now climb the stairs and stand on the top triangle. Add a square piece connecting to it as shown. You are now making the second floor, which is the ceiling of the first floor.

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step18Now add four more square pieces as shown, leaving triangular gaps between them just as you did with the foundation.

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step19And then fill in the gaps with triangles. This will leave a hexagon-shaped hole in the middle of the floor AND a square+triangle hole to come up on the stairs.

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step20Now fill in the hexagonal shaped hole with 6 triangles. Voila! you have completed the second floor. Isn’t geometry fun when it works?

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step21If you hop[ down to the ground this is how it will look at this point. You have a roundish building with two levels of windows and front steps. But hey, why stop there? A taller cylinder has more rooms, so let’s build up!

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step22Go back up to the second floor and add two more layers of walls to the outside of it to enclose a second room atop the first.

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step23Now place another 2 flights of stairs the way you did on the ground floor. Don’t go directly up from the top of the first floor stairs. Skip over to the next triangle as shown..

This will make it easy to continue up, or turn right into the second floor room. Otherwise you have to hop off the stairs which is less smooth.
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Add the second ceiling (third floor) the same way you did for the first ceiling.
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step24Now it is beginning to look more like a tower…more like a cylinder. Go ahead and make it taller if you want! There is nothing new from this point on.
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By the way…if you have enough land, it is pretty easy to make four towers, connect them with walls…and have an instant castle.

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OK that’e enough for this installment. Next time, i’ll show you how to build the MK II cylinder — similar but roomier.

— MRK

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Day Two

January 11th, 2017

Gamers and GodsAnd here we are on the second day of this experiment.

Egad! I have lost ground! Someone else must be selling a lot of books, because the ratings have not risen, they are descending. But the promotion has not yet begun.

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Let the Games…Begin!

January 10th, 2017

Gamers and GodsThis week I am going to try something different. Total transparency.

I have several overlapping promos scheduled to try to up the sales of my newest ebook offering, Gamers and Gods, which offers, for the first time, all three books of this series in one volume.

In order to record, for your entertainment, the effect of these promotions, I am going to post, each day, a snapshot of the Amazon rankings of this book so that you can see how it evolves over time.

My hope is, naturally, that sales will climb enough to put it, at least temporarily, into one the coveted top 100 positions in one or more categories, this technically becoming, even if only for a brief window, a “best seller”.

My books have done this before, of course, but I could not feel comfortable in proclaiming them “best sellersbecause the books in question were free in order to entice readers into my series…and thus not actually being sold at all.

So here we go: here is my snapshot as of this morning.  This is clipped from a screenshot of the current amazon book page, and I have pasted in a cover image for your and my own convenience since the rankings do not repeat the title. (You can click the image to see it full size.)


rankings_1_10_2017

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Who Owns Language?

December 14th, 2016

meNot long after humans began to use shaped grunts as symbols for things, we discovered that we could argue as much about symbols as about the things they represent. The most obvious example of this is monotheistic religions which argue, among other things, about the proper name for God. This often baffles outsiders, who would suppose that if, as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all assert, there is only one God, then surely they must all be talking about the same Deity. Does giving Him a different name really change anything? As Shakespeare observed, “That which we call a rose, by another other name would smell as sweet.”

And yet words and names do matter to us. Though some names are neutral, many names carry the connotation of male or female, a phenomenon exploited by Johnny Cash in his famous song “A Boy Named Sue”, in which a father gives his son a female-sounding name in order to ensure ridicule will cause him to grow up tough.

The wrong words at the wrong time can lead to altercations: “them’s fightin’ words”. The right words can pour oil on troubled waters and broker agreements, and we even have a word for that: diplomacy.

Words have a magic all their own. In A Wizard of Earthsea, author Ursula K. Le Guin introduced a world in which a pebble could be made to look like a diamond, but merely by calling it by “tolk”, its true name in the Old Language, one could shed the spell of glamour and restore its appearance as an ordinary rock.

Nowadays, one of the more peculiar (and often annoying) uses of language is political. We feel that we can somehow right wrongs (or at least, prevent their recurrence) by changing the words we use to refer to things and people. The rise of Feminism, for example, has caused the term “stewardess” to be replaced in common usage by “flight attendant”. Stripping job titles of their gender-implications, it is thought, will stop men from viewing women as mere sex objects. As an extension of this, the use of the word they as a nonsexual pronoun was made Word of The Year in 2015.

Even words which change their meaning can be outlawed nowadays. The infamous “N word”, used in centuries past to denote non-Caucasians by the British has, because of its association with American racial slavery, been hacked down to a single letter used to represent the word that must not be spoken (except by descendants of the wronged who are allowed to use it on each other, for some reason).

But who owns language? As a writer, a person who views words as my pigments, and my ability to string them together into sentences as my paintbrush, I know that the words I use, precisely because humans instantly convert them into memories or imaginations of images, sounds, actions, and so on, affect people…and this puts me in an awkward situation. I want to trigger passions as well as pondering, but violating the new political taboos could limit my readership. I am reminded that the library of Samuel Clemens High School, named after the author who went by Mark Twain, had to take Twain’s book Huckleberry Finn off its shelves because Clemens used the N word. Think about that for a moment. They want to remember his name…but not what he actually wrote.  To moderns who excoriate him, I must point out in Twain’s defense that he did not use the N word to incite hatred or scorn for African-Americans, as modern racists do. He had his characters use that word because that is the way people spoke in the South before and after the Civil War. Clemens was doing what Steven King recommends in his book On Writing, in which he advises that characters must be allowed to speak as they actually would if they were real people: a coarse villain must be allowed to swear instead of saying “my goodness gracious” because to do otherwise would be out of character and destroy the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

I have seen agents and editors and publishers and booksellers all state they will do no business with books that employ “hate speech”. And look, I get it. No one wants to be associated with hatemongers. No rational person wants to be the one who abused freedom of speech by shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, causing people to be trampled to death in the ensuing panic.

I would argue, however, that there is a difference between a real person shouting the N word at another in order to cause pain, and having a character in a book use that same word in order to explore and condemn the use of it. I’m not saying I’m a fan of that word or that I plan to use it in my own novels. But please, cut Mr. Clemens some slack. How can we condemn racism if we cannot even discuss it rationally…even in fiction? How can we see how far we have come in our discourse, if we censor out past references to hated words, out of fear of offending the descendants of the wronged?

So who owns language? The racists? The politicians? The scientists? No. We all own it. While it is laudable to try to correct certain ways of thinking by “correcting” the terminology we use, we must keep in mind that so-called “political correctness” can become its own kind of verbal fascism. We must use this tool of language-change cautiously…because you never know who will decide they are in charge of it in the future.

— MRK

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Surfing the Frenzy

September 30th, 2016

meThis crazy election keeps trying to suck me into the fevered tumult. Hey, I get it. People care deeply. On both sides. And yes, I am going to vote.

But, please, I have so much else on my plate. STOP sending me all these “urgent” voter surveys that always ask for money! For two reasons.

ONE, I have already informed the party leaders who I will vote for. (so stop acting like you don’t know or think I’ll change my mind. I won’t.)

And TWO, sorry, you are not going to make me believe that Civilization will fall if I don’t send my five dollars in. No matter who is elected, the world will continue to turn, grass will continue to grow, and the swallows will return to Capistrano.

Election years remind me of the cicadas. Several times i have been “blessed” to witness the emergence of these insects from their underground development. In Pikesville, Maryland, particularly, the sheer volume of chitin crawling and flying around at such times is grotesque, to say the least.

And I feel similarly about the way my fellow Americans suddenly emerge from their political slumber and discover they Care Greatly about politics all of a sudden. Like the cicadas, the politically passionates swarm into view as if there is not enough to deal with every day.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in Democracy. I believe in Freedom. You have the right to express yourselves…as long as I have the right to go somewhere that I don’t have to listen to it all the time.

I just have to shake my head when strangers attack strangers, family members try to outshout each other, and newscasters decide that the candidates are the only news worth covering. NEWS FLASH: I know who is running and I have made my choice. Tell me more about SpaceX or the newest research on graphene or quantum dot solar cells.

And buy my books!  (Sorry, just had to throw that in.)

– MRK

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Independent Validation

November 8th, 2014

enclosures.jpg (click to enlarge)

My new fellow researcher G.M. has recently been courageous enough to test for himself my claim that the Rhombic Docecahedron (parallel projected hypercube) is far superior as a speaker box than the standard designs. He is building his own set for listening tests as well as objective comparison measurements.

He built his first hypercube out of clear polycarbonate so that witnesses could see there was no acoustic padding inside it. For simplicity’s sake he energized it with a fullrange driver to avoid the complications of crossover effects on the sound.

Today I received his first impressions. G.M. writes:

“OH MY GOD THESE THINGS ARE INCREDIBLE. I have just one hypercube speaker completed so far. It’s SO much cleaner sounding than the sealed box…It’s not even close. The sealed boxes have twice the panel thickness and a fair amount of foam stuffing, yet resonate like crazy, muddying the sound to the extent that it’s instantly noticeable with bass and drums. To the contrary, it’s almost unbelievable how tight and dry sounding the hypercube speaker is. I feel very little vibration from the panels. Voices seem much less colored as well and I did notice a bit less directionality to the sound. It’s just as you said. I’m floored…..”

I envy him. It’s not every day you get to enlarge your own world-view. You never forget the first time you hear a speaker in a hypercube compared to the same speaker in an ordinary padded box.

Bravo, G.M.! I hope that when you have completed your testing you will permit me to use your real name for all the doubters who will think I made you up. I am certain you will find that objective measurements back up what your ears have already told you. Although any audiophile will drone that audio is a very subjective industry, once you have numbers and graphs you can challenge skeptics to perform the same experiment for themselves. Microphones and printers and FFT analyzers etc do not have subjective opinions.

— MRK

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Giving Thanks

November 27th, 2014

thanksToday, I give thanks.  There is so very much to be thankful for this year.

For one thing, I am still alive. There was a time, a few years ago, when I was convinced I would not live this long.

For another, I have met new friends, and exchanged experiences and insights with them. Most notably Greg Madama in NY, who will always remember this year as the year he built and heard his first hypercube loudspeaker.
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booksBut there is more! This is the year I finally decided not to be held back by my need for an agent, and published 4 books on Amazon. The Gamers and Gods trilogy is complete and available in eBook versions, and trade paperbacks by clicking here. The first book of my new Metaspace Chronicles series, called Pathspace, is also there, also available in kindle and trade paperback versions.  I’ve even had my first sales, although the royalties aren’t a lot yet because I decided to make the eBook versions only 99 cents until today.

hypercubesEven more to be thankful for. Greg started a discussion thread on a forum at diyaudio.com that received hundreds of posts and so far has received over 7000 views, and so thanks to Greg and the Internet the info on hypercube speakers is even more available to the humans of Earth. I posted myself there, showing pictures of prototypes and giving details on how to cut pieces to make the shape, and sharing some of my experiences with it over the years.

Here is a picture of one of Greg’s clear polycarbonate speakers before final assembly.

Yes, there is a lot for me to be thankful for this year.  Still alive, with new friends, getting the word out about hypercube speakers, and finally publishing. And the best is yet to come.

– MRK

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The Word is Spreading

December 12th, 2014

Steve Kims buildFor a long time I was afraid that the Hypercube speaker was doomed to vanish into obscurity, ignored by experts who believed they “knew” it couldn’t possibly be any better than conventional designs.
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Now, I have hopes that the technology will be used — the word is finally beginning to spread.

First, Greg Madama in NY built himself a pair of transparent hypercube speakers and was “floored” by how much better they sounded. Greg has also also begun to do comparison testing on the speakers, and has verified some of my own experiences with regard to their sonic accuracy and how pleasing they sound.

Then when he started a discussion thread at diyaudio.com another member called xrk971 decided to investigate the design and built and tested some. Once again, testing verified that the shape does an excellent job of reducing resonances and coloration that other speakers used thick padding and stuffing to try to reduce.

And the word continues to spread. For the first time that I know of, a pair of Hypercubes has been built outside the United States by Steve Kim in South Korea. Once again I am humbly grateful for the way the Internet has made it possible to share this idea with the rest of the world.

hypercube with Karlson tubeYou can see Steve’s work at a diyaudio discussion thread here. (scroll down a little — it is not at the top of the page.)

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Promote or Perish

February 17th, 2015

meThe motto at universities used to be “publish or perish”, meaning that it was not enough to just teach classes or do research. The results of the research must be published to attract attention and prestige.

For an aspiring writer, however, it is not enough to publish. Having one or more books available for sale is kind of useless if no one knows about them. Once you have published, it’s Promote or perish. Today’s writer, especially self-published writers, have to become promoters and marketers of their books.

So I have been learning about book promotion. Excerpts of AES are now being sent out by BookDaily.com and now I am an “authorpreneur” on Bublish.com to see if it will help.

Bublish allows authors to send out “book bubbles” that give a link back to a book excerpt and the author’s comments on it.  here is an example of one of my book bubble tweets:

“Easier to read now. http://t.co/0jmtPbiyci via @BublishMe”

I began this process yesterday but quickly ran into a problem: my excerpts were formatting badly, putting a blank line after every sentence.  Arrgh! I went to bed last night vowing to find out what was causing it and fix them.

It turns out the problem was due to file formats. I’m using a program called Calibre to convert my book files because Bublish only allows me to upload .epub versions to use for the excerpts in my book bubbles. I do my writing in the free Openoffice.org word processor and save them as .doc files. However, Calibre won’t use .doc files as inputs for conversion. So yesterday I was exporting my books as .PDF files and using Calibre to convert the PDFs to .EPUB format.

I should have read their online documentation first. Calibre is not good at converting PDFs…and that was what was causing my horrible bubble text formatting. Today I broke down and read Calibre’s online help and discovered that it would be better to use OpenOffice’s .ODT format for colnversions.

So today I went back to Bublish.com and fixed it. It was painful deleting my previously-uploaded EPUBs because the Bublish dashboard showed I had racked up 165 views of my excerpts.  Iut there was nothing for it. I had to fix the formatting, so I deleted the old uploads, saved new .ODT versions of my books, converted them, and uploaded the new EPUBs to Bublish.

Then I had to make new book bubbles. And voila!  The text formatting is fixed now.

Easier to read now. http://t.co/0jmtPbiyci via @BublishMe

Much better formatting. ‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎BookBubble‬ http://t.co/YWto0LqpUj via @BublishMe

Improved preview of book 3 ‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎BookBubble‬ http://t.co/NpJKsPZyUn via @BublishMe

Start of a new series. ‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎BookBubble‬ http://t.co/9LgEaHeSGa via @BublishMe

And soon…maybe I can even get back to writing my next book….

— MRK

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Positive Reviews for Gamers and Gods: AES

March 21st, 2015

AES CoverAs an author struggling for recognition, sometimes I go through periods of self-doubt and depression, when I wonder if I will ever succeed. It is like screaming for attention in a huge room filling up with others doing exactly the same thing.

That’s why I need favorable reviews like oxygen. I’m still at the stage when a few kind words from someone who has read my writing can make all the difference. I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to submit a review to Amazon.

A TOP 1000 reviewer wrote “This was a great story with a lot of intensity and some wonderful dialogue throughout. I loved the blending of past and present in the novel and it just made things that much more interesting. There were elements of romance, adventure, sci fi, and much more in this intriguing tale that sets up what I hope to be a very engaging series. Well done.”

Wendy Swanson wrote: “The best books don’t just tell a story - they grip you right at the start, carry you along, teach you something along the way and end leaving you wanting more. AES, the first in Matthew Kennedy’s Gamers and Gods trilogy, does all of these and more. In this installation, Kennedy introduces characters from the near future and the distant past and then mixes them together in an intriguing adventure that wouldn’t let me put it down. This world is fantasy to some while reality to others and both are true in ways that prove to be believable, exciting and ultimately frightening. The story draws on the deep textures of ancient mythology and the fast-paced realms of online gaming to craft an adventure that moves quickly from chapter to chapter, climaxing with an ending that doesn’t disappoint. If you’re new to either of these, you’ll enjoy learning as the story unfolds. I’m glad that I won’t have to wait to read the next two books - they’re both available now and I’ve started the second already.

Jim Meade wrote: “I enjoyed this story throughout every chapter. It is very well written ‘ghost in the machine’ story. Moved along at a steady pace, A fine example of the fantasy/sci-fi genre. IMO It would make a good movie or tv mini-series. Started book 2 and cant wait to find out how it all ends……..”

G. Jackson wrote: ““Gamers and Gods: AES” has one the most uniquely written storylines I have come across. If you enjoy gaming you will eat up the pages.”

F. Reede wrote: “Matthew Kennedy was thinking way outside the box when he conquered this uncommon Sci-Fi Brew. His writing skill is like a spiders web that captures the devour’s the attention of the reader as he spins them deep into this ultimately prolific tale. Our main character wakes up in the future and is tasked with fighting for an earth he hasn’t been involved in, and barely recognizes, since it has been thousands of years since he has seen it! Imagine that one. It is like he is living a video game as he has to fight these battles from a simulated construct, a computer. As a story line it does’t get any better than this!

He does have some help though, I would have to say from some savvy gamers and who help in him this exercise of freedom. The undertaking is intense effort filled with twists and turns and even little romance. Gamers and Gods: AES, is the first book in a series and I now look forward to book 2. If you are at all into gaming you will find this book especially delicious. I read a lot in the this genre and this one is exceptional. It is creative, offers a unique story line and well developed characters. Best of all, it is action packed and wholly entertaining.”

Thank you all. Now I have the enthusiasm I need to get back to writing Spinspace.

–MRK



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What is Metaspace?

April 12th, 2015

Spinspace
Some of you have been asking me about the name of my new series, The Metaspace Chronicles. Where did I get the name? What does it mean? What can you expect from it?

These are all good questions. All of my books, the paperbacks and the eBook versions are written to make you think, as well as to entertain and even (gasp) learn a thing or two as painlessly as possible. And the new series is no exception.

When authors write about “magic” it generally falls into one of two categories.  Fantasy authors tend to write about magic as being somehow accomplished with mysterious abilities, “magical” artifacts like wands and swords, or the help of angels, demons, ghosts, or other supernatural beings. There’s no need to explain “how” the magic actually works, as long as it is consistent and limited enough to keep victory from being too easy.

When science fiction authors write of “magic” it is usually explained as paranormal abilities such as telekinesis or telepathy done by people with mutations or special training. Again, little is actually explained. As long as the abilities are consistent and not omniopotent it works for the readers.

I wanted to do something new in this series, so I decided to create a future scenario in which the “wizards” (or psionic engineers) are accomplishing their wonders by means of at least partially explainable methods. Instead of having them be able to somehow touch objects at a distance and “push” them with their minds, they do something entirely different. My wizards reach out with their minds, but they accomplish their effects by reshaping intrinsic aspects of space itself — which then influences the objects embedded within it.

To do this, I hypothesize an extended concept of space called Metaspace. It includes the ordinary dimensions of space and time that we are familiar with, plus some extra stuff that we are not normally aware of.

Pathspace relates to the curvature of space-time which physicists have used ever since Einstein formulated gravity as the effect of curved spacetime on trajectories in his General Relativity. A wizard using pathspace affects the curvature of space, not the objects in it. Pathspace “weaves” are like temporary and specific examples of local gravity anomalies. The alien artifact I call a swizzle is a local pathspace weave anchored on a section of pipe that accelerates air or water through the pipe without a pump or moving parts.

Spinspace relates to the quantum property of spin. I hypothesize that particles such as electrons are “born” with intrinsic angular momentum or spin because it is a property of the space they appear in.

I’ll be talking about other aspects of Metaspace as the series unfolds.   —MRK

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The Everflame

April 30th, 2015

tonespace
Pathspace
supports the swizzle weave.  The artifact called a swizzle (which does free pumping even uphill) is an indispensable tool for ventilation, irrigation and plumbing.

If we were to be drawing boxes around parts of reality and attaching labels, pathspace would be the gravity - the major component in 3-space of the spacetime curvature.

Just as pathspace enabled the swizzle, tonespace enables the everflame. Tonespace can be thought of as the density of free zero-point energy in space. In idealized conditions this is constant or zero and the energy in space is uniformly distributed (dispersed). In actual conditions this value can be a field value and vary differently along different directions.

The ability of the energy density of space to vary from place to place means that compensatory geometries can be configured.  The total energy appearing may be the same but its spatial distribution can be altered to make it colder in some places and hotter in others.  The alien artifact that demonstrates this is the everflame. The tonespace weave is commonly placed on the space enfolding a disc; stroking the disk’s rim one way or the other turns the effect up or down. The everflame effect concentrates energy from an effectiveness of zero to one. Zero represents no effect — the background level of uniform distribution. One would be perfect concentration: all of the energy appearing in a given volume would appear at approximately the same point in space on one side of the disk. (On the other side the average temperature drops slightly.)

In practice what you get is a point at a certain distance from the center of the disc warms up. the temperature determines the color. At first nothing is visible because for everything up into infrared the photons are too weak to excite our eyes. Warmer and you see a red point that goes through orange to yellow as the temperature goes up. Eventually you get blue, indigo, violet and ultraviolet before x-rays.

As an artifact the everflame is extremely valuable. One can provide limitless free power boiling water in a steam engine. One everflame can be a fireplace that never needs wood, and/or a smokeless stove that never needs coal. A coffee maker you can carry into the woods. An electric blanket with no electricity. Permanently heated clothing for cold climates. Permanently warm hot tubs, pools, and baths. The number of places this could be used is limited only by our imaginations.

Using an everflame in combination with a thermocouple gives free electricity. In amplifier cirtcuits, having everflame-heated tube elements makes possible a tube amp that runs on very little power. With everflame/thermocouple elements to heat the tubes and power the circuits, the telephone, radio and TV of the Ancients could be restored without a functioning electrical grid (TVs and radios would therefore be portable).

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Spinspace: The Space of Spins

May 30th, 2015

SpinspaceThe long-awaited sequel to Pathspace: The Space of Paths is finally out and available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Spinspace: The Space of Spins continues the story of an Earth wrecked by non-sustainable alien technology. The aliens called the Tourists came, traded, and left.  Did they know what would happen to an Earth grown dependent upon tech none of us knew how to make or maintain? We may never know. One thing we do know, however, is that prolonged exposure to the alien tech has engendered a generation of humans who can learn how to make it.

In Pathspace, we saw how Xander, court wizard to the Governor of Rado, prevailed against an armed invasion and secured the peace needed to found his school for wizards - for the alien tech support we never had.

In Spinspace, the Xander School is finally founded and begins to train students. But news of the school has spread to the East and West, where foreign magic-users may not welcome Xander’s intention to teach anyone who can learn. Knowledge is power, especially when it is not shared, and powerful interests will seek to weaken or destroy the School before it gets too established.

If you liked Pathspace, you’ll love Spinspace.

– MRK

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Tonespace: The Space of Energy

July 1st, 2015

tonespace thumbnail
Book 3 of the Metaspace Chronicles is now in pre-orders for $0.99 to be available for download Jan 20.  (The price for the eBook will go up to $2.99 after it is released.)  Now that Smashwords supports assetless pre-release, I’m finally staring at a hard deadline: the final version must be finished, edited, proofed, and uploaded ten days in advance of the release date.

The good news is, on Jan 20 Tonespace will be available simultaneously at Smashwords, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, instead of the usual trickle-out process where books uploaded are on the Smashwords website and then appear on the other sites days later.

When you work for yourself as a self-publisher, you might find that your boss is a real jerk like mine. And now he has a deadline to hold over my head. Sigh.

Back to work!

– MRK

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HEALSPACE: The Space of Life

January 10th, 2016

HealspaceTinymargin

Now that Tonespace, book 3 of The Metaspace Chronicles is uploaded and in pre-orders at Smashwords (and will soon be uploaded to Amazon), it’s time to talk about the next book in the series, Healspace.

As you know, I’m trying to formulate a fresh new system of magic for this series.  it’s a magic that has nothing to do with spirits or demons or the Moon or ancient occult traditions.  This magic is more of a science fiction magic than a fantasy magic.

Many old-school authors would call it psi, not magic, since it seems more related to telekinesis than to witchcraft.  I cannot argue with this assessment.  In fact, my “wizard” Xander would rather people call it psionic engineering instead of magic, because he would prefer to leave the old superstitions behind and explore it as the practical applications of a new branch of Science called Psionics.

The first three novels covered Pathspace, Spinspace, and Tonespace — Xander’s terms for various aspects of something he calls Metaspace, from which the name for the series derives.  The idea is that what we know of Space is a small subset of a greater continuum called Metaspace — and that awareness can interact with aspects of metaspace in order to influence objects and events embedded in it.  Not mind over matter.  Mind over space.

I came to the idea of metaspace because no description of PK or telekinesis I have ever read gives any believable way for the human mind to push on objects.  So let’s forget pushing them.  The new concept is that information is the most powerful thing in the universe, and that our minds can do more than process information - we can exchange information with space.

In casting or “weaving” metaspace, Xander and his wizards are participating in the information encoded in space, altering it so that objects and events in space behave or happen differently.  For example, a Pathspace weave is a configuration in space similar to an engineered gravitational space curvature - it affects the paths objects travel on, just as the curvature associated with the Sun’s mass affects the path of the Earth.

Healspace is a little farther out on the edge, as I take the series further and try to expand the bounds of possibility. Healspace refers to that aspect of metaspace which deals with the growth and continuity of organic life.  As the name implies, those who learn how to shape healspace with their minds can speed the healing of organic tissue injuries and help the body fight off infections.

– MRK

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A Reader Replies

January 25th, 2016

AES_kindle

I believe in my writing, but it really helps to hear from others who do, too.

Here is what a recent reader had to say about AES: Gamers and Gods I.

Wow! This book is a grabber and an absolute blast to read. I have played a few of these games so I had a better understanding of how it all works, but even someone who is not a gamer will love this book. It is raw and exciting and definitely one of the best I have read. The characters are amazing and totally made the book rock. The connection between mythology and science, between real and animation is done to perfection. This would be a kickass movie. The details are impeccable and made me feel like I was part of it. It is so well written and so easy to stay with and impossible to put down, I can not wait to read the other two books. Matthew Kennedy is a brilliant writer and his knowledge and imagination are outstanding. His passion for writing is clear and his talent goes deep. He could easily become one of my favorites, and as an avid reader, that is not said lightly. I highly recommend this book, series and author to everyone. You will be hooked and will love it from start to finish. A must read!”

– Debbie Raynes


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Black Sea Apprentice

March 19th, 2016

BSA thumbnailTwelve years ago I was between jobs and decided to write a novel. It was the first book i complete, and naturally I made plenty of first-time writer mistakes.  When I submitted it to agents you can imagine the kind of responses I got: mainly none. Landing an agent can be even harder than getting a publisher, because literary agents are “the first line of defense” between the reading public and bad literature.

Publishers and editors use agents as a screening mechanism.  In the old days it was possible for an unknown author to submit “over the transom”, meaning to send your manuscript directly to a publisher.  But as word processors and personal printers made it possible for more and more people to try their hand at writing as I was doing, the number of major publishers who will accept OTT submissions from first-time authors has shrunk to approximately zero.

I did get one favorable response from an agent in CA who said she would be happy to take another look after i got my manuscript professionally edited.  I looked into this and quickly realized I could not really afford it on my unemployment checks.  So the project got shelved, and Black Sea Apprentice ended up one of those books only a few close friends and family members got to see.

However, all that was before the rise of eBooks and the indie author revolution.  Thanks to folks like CreateSpace and Smashwords anyone can upload their work and have a chance to have it seen by people all over the world instead of languishing in some publishers slush pile.  Now that I have six novels on Amazon & Smashwords, I’ve decided to broaden my offerings by improving the old manuscript and showing readers yet another combination of magic & super-science.  It’s time for BSA to meet the world.

Black Sea Apprentice takes its name from the setting.  When I wrote it, many believed (and some still do) that the modern Black Sea has gone through many changes over the ages, and that before Egypt and Sumeria got started, there may have been people living on a shelf of land around what was at the time a fresh water lake. When the rising sea level at the end of the last ice Age eventually caused the Mediterranean to spill over into it, raising the level, flooding the shelf of land around it (including the south Crimea) and creating the strange state of affairs that now exists.  For the Black Sea is a sea like no other - it has two layers.  The top layer is much like ordinary salt water, but the lower layer is anoxic, practically devoid of oxygen, and has preserved some wooden remains.  Ballard and others were hoping to find the remains of cities, a sort of Atlantis-like lost civilization, but so far all that has really been found is the remains of ancient ships.

Some have gone so far as to suggest that the flooding of the Black Sea may have been the inspiration for the Flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh (which many believe to be the source material for the story of Noah’s flood in the Old testament).  In any event. I decided to create a universe in which there was a civilization living on the shelf, a civilization which eventually was flooded out and colonized Egypt and Mesopotamia. So, we begin with a previously-unknown civilization, add some super-science which has decayed to the state of being regarded as magic, then add in a modern-day physics student to give the fish-out-of-water perspective, and voila!

Black Sea Apprentice will soon be available at Amazon & Smashwords, after I have satisfied myself that the quality is up to the level of my more recent work.

– MRK

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The Metaspace Chronicles: boxed sets

April 2nd, 2016

boxed set As I work with marketing my books such as The Metaspace Chronicles, I’ve been thinking about the problem with series.  You know, the fact that someone is less likely to buy a sequel if they haven’t read the first novel in the series.

The modern solution to this problem is to bundle the series as a boxed set. This is a little misleading when we care talking about ebooks, however, because the buyer receives no physical object i.e. no “boxed set’ of anything.

However, provided the readers understand that the thumbnail is a visual metaphor and not a product photograph, the boxed set image can be a convenient and attractive way to present a multi-volume series bundle. Though the reader receives no actual box, they do get all of the ebooks it contains. — MRK

PATHSPACE?SPINSPACETONESPACE

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State of the Site 4/30/2016

April 30th, 2016

websiteThis is the current view of my website 4/30/2016. Still a little disorderly but a fairly good control panel of links to my books and blog.  — MRK

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Struggling On

May 18th, 2016

sisyphusContinuing to continue. I know some of you (hopefully) are impatient to see the next installment of The Metaspace Chronicles and might be wondering how I am spending my time.

The good news is, part of the reason I seem to be slowing down is that I am mulling over ideas for several upcoming books. I will admit that part of the reason is also that I am calculating that I can increase my income more rapidly with one-off, non-serialized novels…than I can writing more sequels to books not yet popular. And a third part of the reason for the slowdown is that I am wondering how long I can sustain this effort before the need for more income (partly for promotion costs) will force me to get a full-time job and slow down even more.

HealspaceBut fear not. So far the Chronicles is planned to be at least 7 volumes, so there are at least four more of them you can expect to see over the next couple of years.

And there will be other books, perhaps even other series. Black Sea Apprentice, currently being edited and rewritten from its original form of 2004, could very well be the beginning of a trilogy (it was originally intended to be). And then there are some nonfiction books I have been meaning to get around to writing.

I haven’t run out of ideas yet.  –MRK

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Why I Do It

June 30th, 2016

meMany of you ask why I do it. Why do I write science fiction?

I ask myself the same question. Maybe with a different emphasis: why do I write science fiction? I mean, I read it. I watch television shows and movies based on it, like many other people. But why do I write it?

The cynical answer would be that I do it for the money. But if that were my main motivation, then there are other genres that would be more efficient at generating income. Whether you call it Scifi, SF, or speculative fiction, science fiction is a relative small piece of the fiction pie, money-wise. Far more money is made writing romance fiction and thrillers. Maybe this is because good science fiction, almost by definition, needs to have some good science in it, and most people seem to prefer books that won’t make them think about much science. Or maybe because violent conflict and love are things we are obsessed with and want to read about. Most good scifi includes such things.

Do I do it for the fame, then? Shakes his head. Name ten famous scifi authors. Hint: I’m not one of them yet.

The answer I keep coming up with when I ask myself that question is, because I have been inspired by it and I want to pass on that inspiration to others. I think the first SF novel I read was Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein. I read it in sixth or seventh grade, and the idea of owning a space suit captured my imagination so strongly that my Halloween costume that year (back when most were hand-made and not bought) was a couple of cardboard boxes with holes cut out for my arms and legs and some plastic for a face plate. It didn’t look much like a NASA space suit, so I told everyone I was supposed to be a robot. But in my heart I was an astronaut.

A lot of us like to read historical fiction, and it can be fascinating stuff, especially for romance, because we will always have a nostalgia for “the good old days” that is unaffected by our knowledge that those good old days included human slavery, widespread disease and illiteracy and nearly constant war. But reading about kings and princesses cannot really inspire us to emulate them, because it’s sort of difficult these days to become a king or a princess. We can identify with the handsome prince or the beautiful-but-strong princess, but when we are finished we put the book down and go on with our lives.

Science fiction is different. It looks forwards, not backwards, in history. And there will be a need for more astronauts, so it’s not crazy to want to become one. Well maybe it is for me, because I’m way too old to get into the space program. But you get my point. SF doesn’t encourage us to dream about what we could have done in the past. It inspires us to dream about what we might be able to do in the future.

I’d like to be a part of that.

– MRK

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Playing Catch Up

August 5th, 2016

SisyphusIt’s true, what they say: “You don’t really appreciate something until you lose it.”

In my life, at various times I have had to do without food, money, and a functioning automobile, but it was not until my computer failed over a week ago that I learned what real withdrawal feels like. As I sit here, pecking out this blog entry on my phone screen keyboard (and, apparently, whining about it), I find myself realizing, more than ever before, how dependent I have become upon computers and the Internet.

Sure, I can still write with a Bic pen and a sheet of paper. But paper has no spell check. It has no copy&paste, and cannot research a word or topic at the click of a mouse button or the tap of a finger. How spoiled I have become!

I will get through this. I shall have to make do with watching Netflix on my Kindle Fire. And even now I get some help from silicon, for my smart phone & Kindle are  computing devices…even if they are keyboards challenged and limited to small screens.

–MRK

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The Question

August 18th, 2016

me in Rift

The Question

And old man gazed with sightless eyes upon a silent sea
and wondered: have I missed the tide?
I should have scattered seeds upon the wind
and sewn a richer tapestry
I should have built my castles in the sand
and dared the wind and waves to do their worst
Instead, i stand here wond’ring on the dune
and wait for evening’s breeze to call the night.
Yet none can say that I did not attempt
to make a mark. I soared on wings of hope
and raced the sun across a hollow sky
but when the flight is done, no trace remains;
the clouds themselves will fade, their storms forgot
as mountains crumble into sand
I wipe my weary brow with trembling hand…
Please tell me it was not in vain
when all the stars go out, and silence reigns
Please say there was a reason for it all
when matter is a memory
I was too busy earlier to hear
but I am listening now. Is there a Plan
that holds a place for rocks and trees and us?
Were all our minds mere accidents -
our cries in pain and joy a useless noise?
Or is there more to know, a path unwalked
I want to know. I want to hope.
But so far, all I hear is gulls and wind.

– MRK 7/31/2016 Crystal River, Florida

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The Burden of Knowledge

September 9th, 2016

meThese days, many readers combine science fiction and fantasy into a single genre. It would be convenient for me personally if they were the same thing. But they’re not.

You see, my challenge as a SF writer is to expand your mind without insulting your intelligence. There are all kinds of mind-bending things I would like to write about, but I have a handicap: a formal education in science.

The fact that I was a hard-science Physics major should help me write science fiction, right? Yes and no. It does give me a technical vocabulary and some knowledge of how matter and energy work. The problem is, suspension of disbelief starts long before a reader opens my book. It starts with me: I have to believe in the book to write it. This means that because of my background I want to explain everything scientifically, to justify it to myself and help my suspension of disbelief.

g&g

So I try to walk a narrow path between extremes. In Gamers and Gods I have post-mortal Greek and Egyptian gods, but they are limited by their incarnation into a quantum computer. So, a mix of fantasy and science. On the one hand, I extrapolate a level of consciousness beyond humans, but with its own limitations - as the ancient Greek storytellers did. But I mix this in with predictions of how quantum computers might influence online gaming in the future, and to do that I have to talk about logic, software, loopholes, qbits, and all the technological wizardry that we might have to play with in a few decades.

TMCIn The Metaspace chronicles I do the same kind of mixing. I have a “wizard” who calls himself a psionic engineer trying to rebuild a technical civilization. He uses “magic” — but it is all done by manipulating properties of space like its curvature, spin population, or energy distribution. I mix sword-and-sorcery with post-apocalyptic to produce a story line which is neither pure fantasy nor hard SF but a little of each.

If you want to call it a formula, fine. But it works for me, at least to the extent that it permits me to proceed. And the readers have not been displeased.

—MRK

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The Darklord

July 11th, 2017

Darklord03.jpg

There are many rumors about the Darklord, but few certainties. Some say he was a Warrior. Others claim he was a Slaver. There is evidence for both of these, for he has been spotted wearing armor dyed red, and armor colored in blue and yellow. But now he merely wears black or dark gray and gold.

There are those who say sometimes he speaks as might one highly educated. Others contradict this, saying he speaks with the pithy vulgarities and casual crudeness of a commoner. And again, it appears that both of these claims are true, at times.

Many of us Exiles are secretive about our past, either because we do not want to admit our crimes or because, for all we know, old enemies might also be here in these lands. It is hardly surprising that the Darklord is not eager to discuss his former life in detail.

But all men talk, whether it be in the exhilarated closeness of a narrow victory against a common enemy, or in the relaxed unguarded moments that follow a pleasurable interlude with a willing partner in the sleeping furs. From such scraps, accumulated patiently by our operatives over time, we have pieced together an approximation of the truth that will serve for now.

The Darklord has known military service. That much is obvious by his bearing and his forceful stride, as much as it is evident in his ability to command and his skill with weapons.

He also has skill with the acquisition and training of slaves, as he has demonstrated with the ones he has captured and put to work for his Clan.

The very rapidity which which he has assembled both his workforce of thralls and his cadre of loyal clan members indicates he has held positions of substance either in Imperial armed forces, or private enthrallment contractors, or both.

But there is more to this man than a history of authority. It seems that he is a fallen idol, a man disgraced by schemers and jealous competitors. Were it not so, he would not be here.

There is a persistent story that his success was such that those who desired his power and position resorted to that most base of weapons – money. It seems that even Imperial judges can be bought. I know, it is shocking! But true. His competitors apparently succeeded in either bribing a judge, or a member of the royal family who had power over a judge. The Darklord was arrested on charges of conspiring against the Empire. There was no trial, no legal proceeding that might be overturned. Instead, we are told the record shows he confessed, although no one believes that, not even his enemies.

Since a confessed traitor receives no trial, but proceeds instead straight to sentencing, he received straightaway the most serious punishment available – banishment to the Exiled Lands.

Many of those sent here have perished quickly. But like some of us, the Darklord has held on grimly and fought through the dangers and predators of these lands to a place where he can build a home for himself, in the Three Rivers area.

Here he has assembled the Three Rivers Outlaws, known simply as the TRO Clan. He is the undisputed leader by acclamation, and while he enjoys his position and its privileges (particularly with regard to the female members) he apparently takes the responsibility of leadership seriously. Enemies fear him. Clan mates admire him. Women hunger for his touch.

Perhaps he is doomed, as are we all, to die here without ever seeing old friends and family again. But the Darklord is building a new family, teaching us that our lives, even here, are what we make of them. Together, we are stronger. Together, we fill the empty moments with stolen pleasures. Together, we become a force to be reckoned with.

We wish him well.

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