Archive for August 2015

Android/Anime Absurdity   1 comment

Steampunk surrounds itself with proto-modern examples of past ingenuity updated for today.  Take, for example, the above video.  It’s described as the best steampunk robot of 2014.  I didn’t fact-check to make certain it was, I merely took its word.  What’s obvious is any steampunking robot has to prove its worth by dancing…and it does…to great accolades from the audience.

A category woefully underrepresented is animated Steampunk.  James Lopez, a former Disney animator, has set about to create his dream, Hullabaloo.  He crowd funded the project and updates are regularly found on the Hullabaloo Facebook Page and official website.  Using 2-D techniques instead of computers, this project does homage to the past by actually recreating it – by hand drawing the cels, just like they did back in the day.

Has anyone seen this?  It’s been making a tour of Facebook pages over the globe.  How do I know?  Just Google it and you’ll see.  Here’s dancing of a sort, although I must admit I have no idea what’s the purpose.  Sure, the guy in silver seems to be a superhero type, beating up the Godzilla-ish beast, but how does the bear-y thing justify jumping hysterically while clutching Godzilla’s tail?  I mean, what’s really going on here?

This, my friends, is a classic.  I first saw this Kikkoman anime around the turn of the millennium.  A friend sent it to me when emails were still kind of new and fresh, as was the internet.  As far as bizarre things go, this one definitely holds the test of time.  The accompanying tune is unavoidably infectious – just try to not hum, “Kikkoman, Kikkoman, show you, show me…”  It shows even better if you’re altering your own reality through artificial means, too.









World’s End   Leave a comment


Credit: Don Davis/NASA

Hope you didn’t make any plans to take that much-needed restful vacation to Puerto Rico from September 15-28, 2015.  And while that’s the heart of the hurricane season, this wrath-of-nature event’s going to create giant waves not as the result of intense low pressure, but the crashing of a honking huge space rock.  Yes, folks, this sucker’s got our name on it and it’s that apocalyptic nightmare we’ve been long warned about.  So if any of you were thinking about paying bills or going to college, your time’d be better spent making plans of an otherworldly sort – the kind that involves a sudden belief in religion and hoping that all of those priests, preachers and other sorts are right.


Oh geez, here we go again.  Once again, life on Earth is going to end.  Or that’s what they’d like you to believe on the internet.

So much buzz and inquiry flew around in cyberspace that the American authority on such matters, NASA, had to release a statement that categorically denied our home planet’s days were numbered.

As things go, this latest rumor of our planet’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  There is no asteroid, the Earth is still planning to turn and as far as vacations to Puerto Rico are concerned, it’s still hurricane season and you still might want to check the forecast before you leave.

Back in 1982, a rare alignment of all nine planets (back then, Pluto was considered one) occurred.  Our entire solar system lined up within a 95° arc, all on one side of the sun in March of that year.  This amazing event prompted horrific rumors of devastating earthquakes, shifts in gravitational forces and life as we know it’d go the way of Betamax players (also popular at the time).  And no Earth-ending force would be complete without California’s San Andreas fault sliding off the West Coast and offering the residents of Arizona the beachfront property they’d been longing for.  Of course, no one would have even given this planetary lineup a second thought had it not been for the book written by John Gribbin, Ph.D., and Stephen Plagemann, called The Jupiter Effect, published in 1974.    For some reason, nothing really happened except nighttime sky observers had a fantastic view.  Not long after, Gribbin and Plagemann published, The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered, backtracking to say the actual event occurred in 1980 and was responsible for the monumental eruption of Mt. St. Helens.  Finally, in 1999, Gribbin admitted he might have been mistaken about the whole thing.

There seems to be no end of apocalyptic predictions, it seems – humankind thrives on them.  Most of them seem to revolve around Christ coming again and bible predictions, or some deity wreaking havoc, or even a random event magically pull the plug on our planet.  To illustrate, Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive (although by no means complete) list of popular end-of-it-all predictions.  Suffice it to say, we’re all still here.

Why is it seemingly so popular to want life to end on our planet?  Lots of reasons.  Those in power used it as a means to control less sophisticated types, while others, through limited means of scientific understanding, considered such celestial events as comets to be a omen of death.  The same goes for plagues, droughts and other extreme weather events, earthquakes, eclipses and more.  I remember as a kid hearing Pat Robertson of the 700 Club predict the world would end in 1982.  Why?  He was a big fan of the Antichrist and figured that’d be a good time as any for the devil to show up.  That, and this prediction bolstered viewers for his popular TV show.  Hey, wouldn’t you want the latest details of your demise?  Of course, if you were God’s Chosen, you’d be lifted up in The Rapture…and all of his viewers were special, natch.

Alas, as long as humans trod the earth, there will be naysayers for its future.  The Assyrians are famously known for making this oft-quoted prediction, way back in 2800 BC:

“Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”

Oh, if only it’d be true…


Newspapers: Fodder for Sci-Fi Inspiration   Leave a comment


I’ve been glancing through the headlines, as most of you do, I’m sure, to not only figure out what’s going on in this world but perhaps troll up some fodder for fiction.  When I’m stuck or need a break, I put down the project at hand, pick this up and scan headlines.  Not blogs or other social media, but that quaint little collection of light grey pages that lands at the end of a driveway or plops on a porch.

Yep.  A newspaper.

I subscribe to two local papers, have several digital subscriptions and read all sorts of magazines, both online and print.  Listen to a whole bunch of different podcasts.  From these sources, a virtual (literally) treasure trove of really neat stuff’s just waiting to be picked and eaten, occasionally alive.  Though you might already know the stories and the sources, it’s worth consideration for sci-fi stories.

For example:

Headline: El Nino May Bring Record Heat, and Rain for California, New York Times, August 13 2015 edition.

Random inspiration: El Nino (“the child” – male), a slumbering pre-conquistedor kid, awakes from his long-forgotten grave when San Diego sewer workers open up a bit of the freeway to repair a broken water main.  See, this kid’s the ancient victim of a sacred ritual wherein young innocents’ lives were sacrificed to The Holy One in order to bring warmth and water for crops to grow.  Trouble is, after one long, lingering look at his hot wet-nurse, this youngster planned to grow to adulthood.  Kid’s last thoughts, right before his neck slicing, conjured up a curse, promising a time when his bones are discovered, he’ll unleash his vengeance and both fry and flood California.  So when our unsuspecting sewer workers jackhammer and pickax the asphalt on a typical July morning, the steam rising from the broken pipe isn’t evidence of a pipe failure, it’s EL NINO manifesting a physical form so he can wreaked havoc with the weather…and unite with the one woman who’d give him what he needed.

Headline: Swiss Find Remains of Two Japanese Climbers Missing Since 1970, Associated Press, August 7, 2015

Random inspiration: Though they might appear to be missing Japanese climbers, they are, in fact, only the remains of higher ascended beings who shed their disguises after studying the lives of those on Earth.  Meeting at the foot of the Matterhorn glacier, their intergalactic stellercaster ship gracefully landed when said mountain, enveloped in dense fog, provided a safe and mysterious curtain for rescue.  Once aboard, duo relates horrific story of nuclear war, cold war, resource depletion and disintegrating moral values, especially those having to do with free love.  Ignoring all of the former and attentive to only the latter observation, lonely shipmates ditch the spacecraft to come ashore on this wild planet to learn a few firsthand lessons of their own.

So you see?  It’s not much of a leap from reality to sci-fi.  All that’s needed is a quick read between the lines and a spin on the details.  After all, it’s what politicians do every day.  Why not you?



Mal de Mac   3 comments



So there I was, minding my own business and typing last Thursday’s blog entry – something about creating a new genre of fiction – when I thought I’d put in a handy, useful link.  There were a few books I wanted to gather up links for, so I set about searching for the first – Stephen King’s “On Writing.”  Since I was in a bit of a rush, trying to finish the blog before I made dinner, I noticed there were several Amazon site links for that book.  That’s pretty common.  I clicked on one to copy.  Within nanoseconds, up came several pop-up windows telling me I had a security alert – one pop-up window literally spoke to me – and behind the speaking pop-up I could see something was downloading.

On top of that, a phone number appeared telling me I must call it immediately.  Foolishly I did, out of idle curiosity – and I asked immediately who it was I was speaking to and how much this is going to cost.  Not getting any real answer, I hung up.  Okay, okay, you’re all going to call me an idiot for doing that.  But you know what?  I was panicked and on sensory overload.  Normally, I’m as sensible as galoshes in a rainstorm.  In this instance, I was a hair’s breadth from collapsing into a puddle of goo.

Then I shut down my computer, closed its display/lid over the keyboard and stared at it, as if experiencing a bad dream or a silly one-off that’d go away the moment I lifted the lid….which I did.  Turning it back on, the evil pop-ups still lurked on the screen, menacing my desktop and covering my blog entry.  I couldn’t close the pop-up windows, so I closed the browser.

Andrew, my husband, just happened to call and I spewed out the rapidly-disintigrating chain of events.  My entire life flashed before my eyes (oh, c’mon, you can’t tell me your computer isn’t your entire center of being?).  Calmly, he asked me to recite the series of events for him.  Desperate to wish this unfortunate series of missteps away, I did, hoping for a seed of a solution.

“Did you back everything up?” Andrew asked.

“Well, most of it…and I thought our server did that,” I replied.

Okay, now this brings up two issues: “most of it” and “server.”

“Most of it” means I had my first book, latest draft, the one my agent now has, saved on two sticks.  I’ve mailed it to myself, too.  My latest book, a work-in-progress, saved on a stick and the server, but as I was working on it, not the very latest, up-to-the-minute version.  Old incarnations/drafts of my first book – yes, on a stick drive, but not the server.  Other files were saved on stick drives but I know I had other random files not saved anywhere.

“Server” means if our auto backup to the server backed up my work-in-progress book while the malware infected my computer…don’t want to think what might have come next…firewalls do come in handy…but so does disconnecting the internet from the wireless router.  Nothing gets past if there’s no way it can get in, period.

Grabbing the travel case, I shoved my Mac into it, yelled something to my son like he can help himself to whatever’s in the fridge, hopped into my car and jammed onto the rush-hour traffic on the highway.  I’m kicking myself, repeating what a dope I am for allowing this to happen, and am especially unforgiving about calling the number.  When did I become soooo stupid?  Sped like lightning to our local Geek Squad, stood in line while fighting to maintain calm.  The woman who stood next to me made me laugh – her smartphone kept turning off and on and she was powerless to stop it.  It was quite funny, actually – even she was laughing.  “If I dropped it, yeah, sure, I can see something like this happening, but I didn’t do anything!  This is all this phone’s idea,” she said.

The techie calls me forward and I swallow before explaining my actions to him.  I feel like an idiot.  With the manner of a emergency room doctor, in a soothing, calm voice he said, “You’re not the first one this has happened to, nor will you be the last.  Macs are increasingly vulnerable to both malware and viruses.  Give me a minute,” he said, disappearing through plastic sheets into a back room.  After about five tension-filled minutes, he came out and said, “All right.  Here’s the good news.  From what we can tell, the malware didn’t execute, so that makes this situation a whole lot easier.  It seems we can save everything, clean ‘er out and make everything right again, but it’ll take a few days since it’s the summer, people are on vacation and we’re short-staffed right now.  So the bad news is, we have a seven-day turnaround right now.  If you can wait that long, we’ll do the job.”

All I heard is, “The patient’s going to live.”

I gratefully thank him as I hand over my credit card, ignoring the ridiculous amount it’s going to cost to repair it.  At least the service contract will last two years and the software that goes to protect it can be installed on two more computers.

It’s not until I get in the car and am on the highway that I realize it’s dark and 9:00 pm…and haven’t had dinner.  Ah well, not hungry at all, after this.  I arrive at home and walk in the house, handing Andrew the software as he asks me for details.  He installs the software and it scans all of our networked files, as well as those on our hard drives and everything comes up clean (we have several computers).  In the end, this story turns out well.  I’ll get my computer back in a few days, I have another one to use but still, when I think how this could have turned out?

My God, what a nightmare.

Folks, drop whatever you’re doing RIGHT NOW AND BACK EVERYTHING UP!!!


Posted August 2, 2015 by seleneymoon in science fiction, Technology, Writing

Tagged with , ,

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