Archive for September, 2016

Surfing the Frenzy

Friday, 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.)


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The Burden of Knowledge

Friday, 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.


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.


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