Thursday, August 27, 2015

The day the blues died

Hard to believe it's been twenty-five years since the fateful helicopter crash that took the life of Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Let's take a moment to remember him.

Stephen Ray Vaughan

October 3, 1954 - August 27, 1990

Rest in peace, man, and thanks for the music.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A favorite movie scene

In the late 1930's, suspicions between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were high, their mutual treaties notwithstanding.  After all, both countries were authoritarian and aggressive, and it's only natural for leaders of such nations to look askance at one another.  War between the two may or may not have been a certainty at that time, but it was a possibility, and the Soviet government decided to psychologically prepare the Russian people for it.  They did this with propaganda movies, including one of my favorites, "Alexander Nevsky."

It's the story of a 13th-century Russian prince who rallies his people to defend their homeland against the Teutonic Knights.  The invaders are not only German, but Roman Catholic, too, and the film paints that religion in as poor a light as possible.  Roman Catholic priests nod with approval as the Teutonic Knights throw naked Russian children into a bonfire to be burned alive.  It's powerful stuff, and I can only imagine how effective it was for a people already predisposed to hate the Germans.

The score is, quite simply, awesome.  It was composed by Sergei Prokofiev, and he really nailed the battle scene.  But don't take my word for it.  See for yourself.  It's incredible stuff.

And now... the Battle On The Ice.

(Psst... crank the volume up.  ;))

Friday, August 21, 2015


Didn't do any revision today.  I needed a break--something to cleanse my mental palette.  So I wrote a thousand words or so of a brand new story.

I know, I know... I should be polishing up things I've already written.  But I'm risking burnout.  I need this.

I think it's already helped a little.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Just watched it for the first time.

I'd been meaning to check out Akira Kurosawa's movies for several years.  I'm just now getting around to it.

What impressed me early on was the use of music to create the mood.  I thought it did an excellent job.  The juxtaposition of the present-day downpour and the sunnier skies of the recollections was a nice touch, too.  The swordplay was amateurish.  I expected such from the bandit, since he's a commoner and supposedly untrained and all, but I was hoping for something a little more polished from the samurai.  Ah, well.  Perhaps I'm spoiled by modern action movies and the works of the Shaw brothers.

Anyway, I enjoyed it.

Splattering alien guts

Yeah, I'm gonna do it.  That will probably be the thing I do after Terrestrial Planets.  A nice "space marine" sort of thing.  Not in the conventional sense of military SF, of course.  I never served, and I don't want to try to get all the military-related minutiae correct.  Easier if the "space marine" is the only human in the story.

In the meantime, I'm still working on Buddy: Evolution.  And I'll start on Mercury at some point.  Don't know when.

I'll also need to squeeze in my Wool fan-fic piece.


So much to do...

The caffeine crash

It sucks.

That is all.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

In a fog

Woke up with hives.  Don't know why.  I've got a huge insect bite, too, and it itches.

I took an antihistamine, and I've been "comfortably numb" all day.  Unfortunately, my brain is in no shape to write or edit or anything.  :(

I hate feeling useless.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Beta reading is under way

I just sent Venus off to be beta-read.

I've been working on that one exclusively for two-and-a-half months.  Now I can finally focus on something else.

Mobi edit's done

Good grief... what a nightmare.  The Kindle had an update while I was doing it, and I lost the last 5% of the book's edits.  So I had to do that again, and of course it's not going to be the same, and maybe not as good.  And I added new scenes and made notes about other new scenes that I have yet to add.

Even without the update, though, the file is still buggy.  The mobis I make in Calibre just don't play well with the Kindle.  I think I side-loaded it.  Next time, I might try using "Send to Kindle" instead.

I'll try to wrap it all up this weekend.  Then it's off to be beta-read.  And then I can get back to Buddy: Evolution, my Amazon author's page, outlining, etc.

Friday, August 7, 2015

When humans and aliens arrive

What if humans and aliens simultaneously arrive at some unsettled planet?  Ah... now things get interesting.

This scenario isn't one-sided like the previous ones.  The two species are both capable of interstellar flight, so they are presumably equally advanced.  It would be the dawn of a new cold war.

Of course, there's a small chance that interstellar travel is just a fluke development for one of the species.  In that case, there could very well be a significant gap in technology.  Harry Turtledove wrote a story with that premise.

But I think the Cold War analogy is the likeliest.  The sides are roughly equal, and there would be a lot of posturing from both of them.  Lines would be drawn, and Berlin Walls erected.  Spying and paranoia would reign supreme.  Most importantly, each side would build up its military as much as it could.

Eventually, one side would begin to pull away from the other.  That's when the real action begins.  If there's a form of Mutual Assured Destruction, making war unwinnable, then the laggard would simply implode, both politically and economically.  If there's not a form of MAD, and the laggard thinks there's a chance, however small, that it could win a shooting war, well... goodbye, cold war, and hello, Interstellar War I.

The good thing about this scenario is that it provides the best ground for fiction.  The humans can win, but we can also lose, and there's the dramatic tension.  As long as the war goes on, we can splatter alien guts with our plasma rifles.  We can nuke their cities from orbit.  We can cleanse whole planets of their filthy hides.

And that's just good clean fun.

When humans arrive

But what if aliens didn't reach Earth first?  What if we beat them to the punch and showed up on their world?

The aliens would almost certainly not be intelligent.  They would be like any other animal, plant, or insect species from Earth.  We would probably not eradicate them just for kicks, but we would try to learn how to manage them.  If they taste good, we'll breed them like we do chickens or cattle.  If they're plant-like, we'll plant them and prune them with aesthetic goals in mind.  If they're insectoid, we'll put up mosquito nets.

But what if, against all odds, they did turn out to be intelligent?  In that case, I think "first contact" would proceed just like it has on Earth.  The human invaders will be greeted courteously, and will be courteous in return.  Everyone will get along.  The two species will become friendly.  They will discuss trade possibilities.  They will have Thanksgiving Dinner together. 

Everyone back on Earth will hear about the success of the mission and be eager about the new opportunities.  And then they will go there. 

They will settle the alien world in massive waves because the aliens don't levy income taxes, or enforce speed limits, or file frivolous lawsuits, or engage in any of the other multitude of things that humans don't like about home.  It will be a lawless frontier, and it will draw rugged individualists, criminals, and naive ordinary people who have no idea what they're getting into.

Over time, as more and more humans pour in, the aliens begin to see the threat.  They see themselves being dispossessed of their land.  They fight back.  But human technology is superior.  After all, we made it to their world.  They didn't make it to ours.  The aliens are eventually pushed to the fringes of their world.

This scenario has played out many times on Earth.  There is no reason to think it wouldn't play out this way on an alien world.  It's not a happy scenario.  Just a human one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When aliens arrive

Lots have people have speculated about what will happen if alien settlers were to arrive in our solar system.  Some people think they would be super-evolved, perhaps beings of pure energy, who would help us achieve some heretofore unattainable state of enlightenment.  Others think they would see our wars, diseases, etc. and annihilate us out of a sense of moral outrage.  And still others think we would find a way to work together and construct a mutually beneficial bi-species society.

Personally, I think any aliens advanced enough to make it here will be so far ahead of us that they will be to us as we are to an ant colony.  Do we help ants attain higher states of consciousness?  Of course not.  They're just ants. 

Likewise, we don't get outraged over their moral failings.  Sure, they are ruled by a tyrannical queen.  Their societies aren't free at all.  So what?  They're just ants.

We ignore ants until they bother us.  Then we kick over their anthills, or saturate them with insecticide, or douse them with gasoline and set them on fire.  When the ant genocide is complete, we forget about them and continue on with our lives as if nothing happened.

When aliens arrive, I expect them to treat us the same way.  They'll ignore us.  Until we annoy them, that is, in which case they'll simply eradicate us.  Because to them, we're just ants.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Second draft is done

It currently stands at 61,818 words.

The mobi edit is next.  When that's done, it's off to be beta read.

The rowdy one is gone

R.I.P., Roddy Piper.

Here he is in John Carpenter's They Live:

It seems like all the icons from my childhood are passing away.  :(