Archive for April 2016

When Reality Mirrors Science Fiction, or Vice Versa   Leave a comment

Why make things up when reality is just as entertaining? Here’s a few inspiring snippets for your sci-fi/reality consideration. Become inspired and write your own story based on what you see below!


New Horizons Spacecraft

Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

New Horizons has left Pluto and gracefully exited out into extended space, lurking around the Kuiper Belt in search of, well, new horizons.

Chinese Riot Robot

Credit: People’s Daily, China

This egg-ish thing is actually a Chinese riot control robot, capable of mowing down people on flat surfaces while ambling along at 11-ish miles per hour and work without complaint (I’m assuming anyway) for 8 hours.

SpaceX Mars Ship

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX to launch unmanned mission to Mars in 2018. The above ship is no relation to the above Chinese riot control robot.

Hall Thruster

Credit: NASA

Aerojet Rocketdyne will develop an advanced solar electric propulsion system, or SEP, for deep space exploration. Mars, and other exotic extraterrestrial locations.

Hope you found a few good ideas!

New Scifi Books Roundup   Leave a comment

I have all sorts of things on my Twitter feed, from NASA to Emergency Kittens and everything in-between. I do follow a lot of sci-fi authors, so I’d thought I’d bring your attention to a few. They’ve all got projects both published and in the works, so if you’re looking for a good read, this selection might offer you a few choices. I’ve chosen them at random, but they’ve been brought to my attention through my Twitter feed.  Most are available at Amazon for download on Kindle, at very reasonable prices. I’ve taken the covers and descriptions from these books from the Amazon listings. Please help support fellow sci-fi writers and give these books a read! I’ll be posting these books regularly, so keep a lookout for this listing. And if you’re a sci-fi writer who wants me to post your book, just let me know. I’ll be happy to!

Organ Harvesters

The Organ Harvesters: A Dystopian Medical Thriller Kindle Edition

The war of 2020 was quite bloodless, but its aftermath was plenty grisly. The victor? A monster corporation now wasting the planet’s resources with abandon — but controlling the people with precision. Using industrial-scale organ harvesting. Using wholesale euthanasia. Using squadrons of armed guards whose bulletproof visors hide any expression in their eyes.

We’re trapped, Zoe thought. Trapped on a dying planet. Wasn’t there a time when we didn’t live under massive domes with scrubbed air piped in and rising temperatures neutralized? That time is a blurry memory to me, almost gone. Gone, like the glaciers. Like the forests and their oxygen-breathing trees.

And now a deadly virus is spreading fast. Zoe’s beloved husband has already been carried off by it. At that, the corporation forced their young daughter Laya into an orphanage. The corporation is intent on eradicating the virus by liquidating everyone infected. Now Zoe herself has fallen ill. More than half of her dwindling energy is spent trying to hide that fact.

She remembered her promise to Laya, to be together again. She rested her forehead against the mirror and whispered to her ghostly fading self—hissed to herself, fierce in refusal! “You can’t die now. You just can’t!”

In this heartless technocratic dystopian future, normal emotions constitute treason. Acting on them is a capital crime. Can a mother’s passion defy this totalitarian system? Will a promised cure arrive in time to save Zoe—and can she get her hands on it?

And if she regains her health, is there a chance she can ever find freedom…and even new love?

The Organ Harvesters reveals a future that will make your skin crawl—and a human struggle to live free that will leave you beathless and inspired.



“Tazenda” by Christine Jayne Vann

Can a unique partnership discover who is stealing the minds of children? Life isn’t easy when you don’t own yourself, not all humans are aware that other species exist, and your ship is semi-sentient. Kerris and Arucken are an interspecies messenger team, tasked with aiding communication across the galaxy. Haunted by the grief of her sister’s murder and stranded, Kerris must discover who is stealing the minds of children.


The Voyages Of The Seven (The Star Agency Chronicles Book 2)

Theopolis James Logan is finally living his long-cherished dream. Whisked away from his mundane life on Earth – along with six other gifted teenagers – by an alliance of peaceful, alien civilisations known as The Affinity, he has forged a life of excitement and wonder on another world. To his friends, he is a technical specialist, adept in the use of super-advanced technology. However, in secret, he is a covert operative for The Star Agency: the Affinity’s secret service, defending the galaxy against the shadowy forces of the Metah Dah, the Affinity’s sworn enemy.

For centuries, the Star Agency has helped maintain a fragile peace, but when a devastatingly powerful secret weapon is lost, presumed stolen, it sets in motion a chain of events, pushing the Affinity towards the brink of war and plunging the seven human friends into a nerve-shredding battle for survival. Can they survive in a universe more dangerous and unpredictable than they can possibly imagine, or will the dark forces of the enemy triumph, tearing the Affinity apart?

Meanwhile, back on Earth, an old friend is looking for answers.

The Voyages Of The Seven is the second exciting adventure in the Star Agency Chronicles – an Interstellar secret agent adventure series suitable for young and old alike. If you think you know science fiction, think again

The Earth they left was a planet ravaged by climate change, war, and corruption. The planet they found was a lush world of wonder, and the pristine mountain valley they settled into provided all their needs. Their technology allowed them to live comfortable pioneer lives in a mild climate, with breathtaking landscapes and clean, fresh air. Avalon was paradise – a primitive paradise – but paradise none the less. But…this beautifully deceptive planet had a lesson for them…Paradise comes at a price.


When the First 50 Pages Is Actually 80 Pages…   Leave a comment

Vintage Typist

So now that I put my first book to bed (for now), it’s time to begin writing the second! I’ve come charging out at the gate, full of zip and zing, just itching to get those words out of my brain and onto a screen. After all, the characters have been banging around, demanding to take on some form and function, ready to put that plot to action.

And off I went, typing my little heart out. I came up with a fast outline, about twenty pages or so, then reduced them to about three, then one. Why? So I’d have a synopsis ready. My agent will need it, plus it helps to have it to hand when coming up with that all-important pitch.

I have a wide-screen display, so part of it showed my outline (to keep track of things) and the other was the book. Pretty soon, I ignored what I had up there for an outline and just kept going.

See, I wanted to write those first 50 pages that editors always seem to ask for when perusing a book submission. Checking it out to see if it’s any good. If it’s what they want. Can they sell it? Can you write? It’s got to be perfect, a real page-turner, else it’ll wind up in the slush pile and the permanent death bin. Can’t have that, now, can we?

So write I did, until I have my main three characters all set up nicely and it became pretty obvious they’d have work cut out for them to resolve their issues.

As it seems, so did I.

I wrote eighty pages. I only needed fifty.

My characters looked askance. One of them complained he had glue in his feet. Another thought she’d been kind of inactive for two long. And the other? Kind of went on and on about something or another without actually coming to a point.

Time to chuck out the garbage!

First, I read the whole thing without changing a word. The story line made perfect sense, but it could be better. I examined each paragraph, all the dialogue, even punctuation. Took my time and shelved a few ideas. I liked them, but those ideas gave too much of the plot away, so I made a file called, “For later.” I go back to that file if I need an idea, use a quote, even a suggestion. Often I ditch much of what’s in there, but if you come up with a good quote and it doesn’t fit right in its original spot, it might be useful later. Or you can admire it over and over and congratulate yourself for being clever and use it in witty conversation at one of those glamorous cocktail parties you’re going to be invited to when your book is published. Believe it or not, I got rid of 10 pages this way.

Next, I went over those really long paragraphs and the very short two-liners to see if I couldn’t condense them. I actually trimmed quite a bit this way.

Finally, I went over each and every sentence. That’s tough. I found myself reading sentences over and over, unable to shorten or reword them. It’s going to work out that I’m going to need some of those longer sentences, but I can make them shorter by finding better ways to contain the information they’re trying to convey. After all, brevity is the soul of wit, and you can keep a reader far more interested if you get right to it.

I’m not quite at 50 pages yet, but I’m nearly there. I’ve hacked and pruned my way to 59 pages, which isn’t too bad. My story’s exposition reads a whole lot better and I’m feeling good about it. I’m still in first draft mode, but with those solid first 50 pages, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the book…all three thousand pages of it…

Just kidding!







Snake Oil and Quackery   Leave a comment

Sight Restored

Miracle Man, Dr. Oren Oneil

Since it’s been a while since I did anything remotely steampunkish, I thought I might revisit the genre. I have some old magazines from 1902 – Pearson’s and The Smart Set. As I leafed through the pages, inspiration beat on my brain with the force of a brass Thor’s hammer.

Classifieds and advertisements from bygone eras area always fascinating to read, but none more so, it seems, than from late Victorian/early Georgian era. As technology grew, so did claims about its abilities. While it’s true significant gains in medical research grew during this time, so did quacks who claimed to have the answer for particular ailments.

Take, for example, Dr. Oren Oneil, inventor of the Oneil Dissolvent Method. This convincing ad practically screams credibility, claiming this gifted oculist restored sight to thousands – even cross eyed people! – yet a child could consume his potent tonic and live to talk about it. And if you didn’t take his word for it, just write to the people he cured. But of course, it really was too good to be true, and the truth was exposed in this Collier’s Weekly article from 1906.

Body BraceNatural Body Brace











I’m sorry, but there’s nothing natural about these body braces. I can’t help but love the claim, “Cures ailments peculiar to women” and “Female weakness.” How can a gizmo such as the above help with liver trouble, lady’s headache, constipation AND make you more attractive? I do think this body brace would make an excellent addition to any modern-day steampunk costume and peculiarities collection.




Adding to the brace field is “Pond’s Toe Spring.” This medical marvel has been endorsed by medical men here and abroad, although it doesn’t specify what kind of practice or nation so hot on using said toe spring. I imagine those with foot fetishes go for this sort of bondage thing.


While Dr. Oneil used a tonic to cure blindness and other eye ailments, the marvels of electricity proved a more effective cure. All you needed to use was a pocket battery to remove stubborn cataracts, pteryglums, granulated lids to restore vision. I’m not quite sure why the New York & London Electric Association chose to do business from Kansas City, Missouri, but perhaps it provided a friendlier environment for stealing people’s money.


Break the Bonds

At first glance, one can hardly guess this is an ad for fake coffee, but a cry for help for addicts of caffeine. Dyspepsia, weak heart, kidney trouble, sour stomach, inactive brain and nervous prostration. While there might be an argument for a few of the ailments, I’m addled to consider blaming coffee on an inactive brain. Who hasn’t gotten juiced up on coffee studying for finals to wake that brain up? Postum, the “food coffee,” is the miraculous cure for those who are hopelessly addicted to the pre-Starbucks set. My own mother used to drink Postum, and I can tell you the last thing it tasted like was coffee.

Liquor Habit

But then again, coffee might not be so bad when you can secretly slip in an odorless, tasteless cure, quietly and permanently without the patient’s knowledge or consent, to cure that evil liquor habit. Sure, because they’ll be dead. At least it’s good for both sexes.



Sure, I’d love to cure my St. Vitus’s Dance, even for free, especially since thousands have been helped where everything else has failed. So now that you have my AGE and full address, what else are you going to rip me off for?


Painless and permanent home cures seem to be the thing. These promise Vital Principle heretofore unknown and lacking in all others, and better still, can be taken without interruption to convenience or detention from business. Again, I’m thinking this is possible because the distressed addict will die, leading to the permanent cure.


The general rule is: if it has buzz marks, then it’s effective. The ad says, ” Life is full of alluring possibilities for those who master the secrets of hypnotic influence; for those who develop their magnetic powers. You can learn at home, cure diseases and bad habits without drugs, win the friendship and love of others, increase your income, gratify your ambitions, drive worry and trouble from your mind, improve your memory, overcame domestic difficulties, give the most thrilling entertainment ever witnessed and develop a wonderfully magnetic will power that will enable you to overcome all obstacles to your success.” What hooked me was: “It is enthusiastically endorsed by ministers of the gospel, lawyers, doctors, business men and society women.” Think about this combination. Doctors trying to get over on people need lawyers so they don’t get sued for using newfound powers on society women who presumably will become fallen women who need to be saved by ministers of the gospel. That’s just my take on it.

French Lick

Of course, all of the above can be had for the price of admission at French Lick Springs. It’s the capital of pleasure!

Bon voyage!



Home Grown UFO Spectacular   Leave a comment

Pine Bush UFO Fair

Often small towns have big reputations, and Pine Bush, NY is no exception. It’s been argued that it’s the UFO capital of the United States (sorry, Roswell!), New York, Hudson Valley and the East Coast of the United States, to name a few locations. All sorts of mysterious and unexplained sitings have occurred here often, as detailed in this video from 2008:

So what’s a small town to do? Run? Hide? Deny it?

Of course not! People of Pine Bush are a celebratory folk, enjoying and capitalizing on their claim to fame. And to that end, each year it hosts its annual UFO Fair, always held in the spring. Its citizen rejoice in this opportunity to share with this world its particular attraction for tourists from other worlds.

PB AliensPB UFO 2

PB UFO Patrol









Though activity of some sort always seems to be present in Pine Bush, the 1980s and 1990s turned out to be a particularly active time. Those were the years of the “Westchester Boomerang,” a UFO seen with great regularity across the Hudson River in Westchester County, but also in Pine Bush, too. Red mists rose from fields. Strange lights slinked, darted, zipped and hovered through woods, marshes and farmers’ fields.

Now, there’s lots of naysayers who’ll state that UFOs in the area are merely mistaken aircraft flying over from nearby Stewart Airport/AFB, West Point, or planes approaching from others such as Newark Liberty or LaGuardia. Talk to the locals, though, and they’ll tell you otherwise. They know what airplanes look like. Those unidentified crafts flying above their heads aren’t the result of an active imagination after a few too many beers. Not everything in this world can be explained easily, if at all.

As the saying goes: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Pine Bush has been welcoming its offworld friends for many years, and welcomes you too. Come, meet the locals, shop in their stores, eat at the Cup and Saucer Diner, and support this wonderful festival filled with good times, happy memories, games, informal talks, entertainment AND a parade!


Posted April 4, 2016 by seleneymoon in Aliens, Sci-Fi, science fiction

Tagged with , ,

‘Bots, Books and Literary Competitions   Leave a comment

Robot Typing On Keyboard

Photo credit:

They say if you stick a bunch of typewriters in front of a roomful of monkeys, they’ll eventually churn out Shakespeare. Now, I’ve never seen that proven but here’s a fact: artificial intelligence is now composing prose.

I like to read Engadget . It keeps me updated on technology of all sorts, no matter who or what developed it. So a story caught my eye the other day: AI-written novel passes first round of a literary competition. This competition, taking place in Japan, marked the first time an AI-human collaboration garnered serious consideration.

The Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award opened up its competition to artificial intelligence for the first time this year. Out of 1450 submission, 11 were human/AI collaborations.

Now, it’s not like the AI came up a great storyline all on its own. It had help, of course. Humans gave the AI the necessary components to create a story: vocabulary, a basic plot outline, sentences and phrases. With these ingredients, AI worked its muse and put forth a pretty darn good entry. Of course, it was science fiction – what else?

Competition judges read through the AI/human and deemed it good enough to pass onto the next round. I’m willing to be that made the authors quite proud. All the while, the judges never knew The Day a Computer Writes a Novel was anything but a human invention. Alas, while the story turned out to be well-structured, imaginative and inventive, it failed the character development test, leaving someone else (human, I’m assuming) to win the coveted prize.

So while this particular entry to the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award competition didn’t garner first place, it did come out a winner of sorts. Imagine if you were one of the writers who got left behind and this robot beat you out. Part of me would feel kind of pissed off, insulted maybe, and yet, I’d be scratching my head. Has the sci-fi market gotten to the point where the objects of its plots are now the ones creating the new stories? If left to its own (plot) devices, what sort of plot will an AI write? Steampunk? Electrifying thrillers? A Cyborg in shining armor saving the day?

Kind of gives a whole new meaning to Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, eh? I mean, if a robot write a really bad story, who’s being harmed – the art, the robot or humans subjected to reading it?

Furthermore, will us humans be cast aside in favor of those who can churn out story after story, without food, water or air? No, wait…that’s pretty much every writer I know.

It’d be pretty interesting to watch how this plot develops.

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