Is Our Future Really Dystopian?   Leave a comment

Japanese Robot

One can argue that this is a great time for things dystopian. There’s a lot of discord in this world and in our country in particular. School shootings seem to happen so frequently they hardly get a notice in the news. Climate change is a reality more than a concept. Now measles is roaring back…is smallpox next? And superviruses and superbacteria threaten us all, with no cures or countermeasures in sight. Racial tensions are again on the rise, while the gig economy undermines workers’ abilities to save for the future or just be secure.

And so on…

It’s easy to picture a future without hope or purpose. I’m even going through a rough patch myself and wonder if there’s any sparkle left to dream about. Any one of those scenarios above could make great fodder for a novel. And have.

But just image if one day we all took stock of what we have and set about to make it right. Make changes that benefit all, not a precious few. Pollyanna as that sounds, one rather famous series used an evolved humankind as its background. Yes, that’d be Star Trek. In it, those who inhabit the Earth (and not necessarily humans) have eschewed wealth for equality and humanity. Sure, each episode mirrored what’s happened here on the home planet, but the outcomes often were positive, if not hopeful.

Would it even, I daresay, be an odd sort of dystopia if everything went right and nothing went wrong? Can you imagine? Sure, it’d be boring but the movie Pleasantville is based on a premise of a perfect TV world turned upside-down with the introduction of color.

I suppose it’s somehow easier to believe things’ll blow up than to bloom. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that you or me don’t have it so bad as they will in the future. Or in the past. Or on planet Zorthon. Think about it. Isn’t it cathartic to complain? A downhill slide from justice into injustice, because somehow society needs to be punished. Bombs will blow, diseases will conquer, war will end all.

Again, does it have to?

There are a few simple things we, as humans, can do to change things. They are (in no particular order):

  • Don’t like who’s in office? Vote! Or better yet, run yourself. Take an interest in your town, your county, your state, your nation. Because, believe it or not, your vote matters. Ditto for…
  • You don’t like it that school kids are being shot? Or our environment’s being polluted at a crazy rate? Or something else? Contact your congressman, senator, mayor, governor or even president. You might get the runaround. Attend town halls or village meetings. Speak up. Make your voice heard. And if that doesn’t work, see the above point.
  • Stop wasting everything. Buy enough food that you’ll actually eat so it doesn’t turn into a dystopian event in the fridge. Use one sheet of a paper towel roll instead of two. Or better yet, use a rag and wash it out. Buy household paper that’s been sourced from recycled paper.
  • Don’t litter.
  • Walk instead of drive…if you can. It’s better for you in a myriad of ways. And don’t run the car. Turn it off.
  • Here’s something to ponder: Toothbrushes. Count up the number of toothbrushes you use in a year. Six? Eight? More? Then count the number your family uses. Add that up. Now apply that number to everyone on your street. Or multiply that by the population of your town. Or the population of the United States (or whatever country you happen to live in. You throw all of that away and it lands in a landfill. It lasts longer than humankind. All for clean teeth. What’s the solution? While there are bamboo toothbrushes, which is a step in the right direction, we need to come up with something better.
  • Ditto with needles – the injecting kind – but that’s human waste…and dangerous. But it’s not recyclable either.
  • Or baby diapers. An infant goes through thousands. Add that number up by the number of births in one year. All going to the landfill…

Before you get totally depressed, all of the above can be changed. This is a nation of innovation, or was, anyway. We still can be. Let’s hand it to the upcoming generation of engineers and scientists (and anyone else who’s inspired to join in) and create/invent materials that will biodegrade and/or can be developed from renewable sources.

And maybe, our future will be that much cleaner, clearer and less dystopian.

The Teaser   Leave a comment

So there I was at work the other day, embroiled in my task. A coworker friend pats me on the shoulder and says, “Hey, what did you think of the trailer?”

To be honest, I was so into what I was doing I had absolutely no idea of what he was talking about. In fact (and I’m rather ashamed and embarrassed to admit this), I envisioned some sort of Casita-type or mesh-wire thing filled with junk or landscaping equipment.

“What trailer?” I say.

My friend nearly choked me with his eyes. “You got to be kidding me, right?”

Lord, oh lord how can I be so absolutely clueless? I stop what I’m doing and after that first flush of major humiliation, my mind goes into search mode. Within nanoseconds, it retrieves the teaser vid I’d seen the second it hit the cablewaves.

“Oh, that.” Nice save. “Of COURSE. THE trailer. Where Rey goes all Matrix on a TIE-fighter. Yeah, I saw it.”

Naturally, this leads into a spirited discourse on minutiae featured in the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” trailer. Yeah, sure, we’re at work, but this is MUCH more important than our tasks at hand. And come on, what else matters?

I’ve been a fan of Star Wars ever since my friend Debbie and I walked into the Beach Twin as 14-year-olds with nothing else to do but see this film we kind of heard that was pretty okay. Our lives were transformed forever once we stepped out of the theater. I don’t think we ever took our eyes off the screen for a second. Every sequel since I’ve eagerly waited and watched, except for Episodes I, II and III, which, as you must all agree, sucked. And quite honestly, I liked IV, V and VI just the way they were, not with all those enhancements and ESPECIALLY not with that ersatz Anakin Skywalker stuck in over the one who really should be there.

I’ve actually enjoyed the rest of the Star Wars enterprise. It’s a brain vacation in a theater seat, as I become entirely absorbed in whatever those Rebels, First Order and Empire folks get themselves mixed up in.

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My son and me, geeking out over BB-8 at NY ComicCon

I know this year’s New York ComicCon’s going to have an amazing exhibition on “SW:TROS” and I can’t wait. That’ll only get me even more hepped up for its December 20th premiere.

And if this one’s anything like the latest entries in the saga, I’ll be anything but disappointed.

A Busy Day for Space Fans   Leave a comment

blackhole

Credits: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

So where does one begin on a day like today? I can’t honestly say what story could top seeing a photograph of an actual black hole. But the news certainly is fascinating. And check out the link. There’s a complete picture of Messier 87, a giant galaxy some 55 million light years away, located in Virgo.

Einstein theorized in a paper published in 1915 that star’s light rays curved around the sun during an eclipse. That meant the stars appeared about 1.75 second of arc away from their positions.

In May 29, 1919, when a six-minute total eclipse in Brazil caused British astronomer Arthur Eddington to determine that light rays from other stars bent when subjected to the gravitational field of our sun.  He proved this through the use of photographs, and others have proven it since.

Jump to 2016. MIT graduate student Katie Bouman created the algorithm that produced the first image of the black hole. Her contributions seem to be a bit underreported, but thanks to her work, we now see the image pictured above.

Falcon Heavy launching 400 x 600

Credit: Kennedy Space Center

The second big story (to me at least) is Falcon Heavy. It was supposed to launch today, but thanks to high winds aloft, we’re going to have to wait until tomorrow. But the cool thing about it is its three boosters, all expected to land perfectly. I’m always fascinated by this new generation of rockets. Elon Musk, for all his faults, is a genius. Not only did he create a better class of rockets, partly recyclable, he also made their capsules so sleekly modern.

And lastly, on April 11 NASA will host a teleconference on its study of its astronaut twins, Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly. This eagerly-awaited report will detail how Scott Kelly was affected by living in the ISS for 340 days, as compared to his twin brother, Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth. So far, these are the only twins who have both served on the ISS, and, as such, are uniquely qualified for this important study.

 

Limited Universe   Leave a comment

img_1303

It’s been roughly a year since I’ve written in this blog. There’s a reason for that, actually. And it’s as vast as the Newfoundland wilderness, as pictured above.

I’ve been thrusting all my efforts into completing my book edits, rewrites, corrections, updates and such things one does to get a manuscript off to my agent. It took a lot more time than I ever thought it would. Truly.

The story is tech-heavy. Every time I thought I had something fresh and new, my take on whatever technology I included in my story seemed old and antiquated with each revision. So I wound up taking great chances on what finally ended up in there. God, I hope what I created sounds plausible and not stupid…

My agent received the manuscript two days before Christmas. Then I took a sorely-needed break. Turned my attentions elsewhere. Read two wonderful novels I should’ve read long ago: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. Plus I read a series I’d been meaning to get to: Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series.  So all of that kept me quite busy.

Reading after writing is like a wonderful spa visit. I immerse myself deep into another writer’s prose, drinking it in like a gulp of fresh mountain air. It’s resetting my imagination. I enjoy seeing how others put words to good use, to describe things in other ways, to invent new realities.

And after I turn that last page and finish the book, I feel a sense of regret. Of saying goodbye. Letting my new friends go and continue on with their lives without me. Because you know those characters will.

Maybe that’s why I chose to write a series. I’ve started the second book now. Figured it was a good time to do so, now that my agent has the first.

To tell you the truth, I got a little sick with my characters. I visited them so often I’m sure they got fed up with my prying into their activities daily. And just when they thought I’d leave them alone once and for all, I rewrote a scene. Or ten. Ripped out their old dialogue and inserted fresh.

Now, my characters move forward, onto new adventures. Face staggering challenges! Question their place in the order of things. Will they make it? Or will they succumb to a deadly nightmare?

Truth be told, I know how the second book in the series starts, ends and gets to the middle, but I’m fishing around for plot movement right about now. I’ve got plot holes that’ll rival black holes right now. And when I do, I take a break and visit posts from NASA, ISS, JPL and Emergency Kittens on Twitter.

But it’s my goal to continue up with this blog. It’s nice to have a diversion apart from writing my book. I missed posting it and promised myself I’d do it every week…but never did. So I will.

I hope you’ll follow along in my few adventures in writing, as well as my musings including the moon, stars and beyond.

 

Posted April 2, 2019 by seleneymoon in Editing, Personal Anecdotes, Sci-Fi Books, Writing

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Amazon is Evil. Authors are Starving. We’re All Gonna Die! (A rant)   Leave a comment

via Amazon is Evil. Authors are Starving. We’re All Gonna Die! (A rant)

Posted February 10, 2019 by seleneymoon in Uncategorized

The Merriest of Holidays To All!   Leave a comment

Despite all of the recent hubbub about the latest entry in the Star Wars saga, I’m sure Darth and Yoda (referred to and briefly seen, respectively in TLJ) would still prefer if all of you laid down your light sabers and made peace with your worlds. After all, this is the season to be cheerful and light, isn’t it? So grab a cup or two of Bantha milk and raise a toast to a continuing storyline with many more adventures to go.

And if you want a comparison, look at Star Trek. Gosh, that’s been around since, what, 1967? You want to talk about inconsistencies? Check out the original Enterprise vs. any later timeline (or earlier timeline, if you count the reboot movies) and that ship’s got more design changes than Padma does in Episode III.

Here’s my holiday wish for all you Star Warriors and fellow space junkies: Be grateful you have a Star Wars to watch. Imagine how barren our world would be without it.

Now go out and celebrate the holiday and watch your favorite Star Wars episode(s) like a real Rebel.

Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! Joyful Festivus! Happy and Merry Everything Everyone!

 

 

“The Last Jedi” Lashout   Leave a comment

Meme, “Terrible Snoke Theories Daily”

WARNING: THERE ARE A FEW SPOILERS HERE. DON’T READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO…

My, my. Whoever thought that a film that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away could generate such controversy?

I’m talking about “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” of course. And if you’ve been paying attention to all of the back-ended reviews, you’ll either see lofty praise or vitriolic rants. Check out Rotten Tomatoes, for example. There you’ll find a 93% critics rating, but a 54% audience disapproval rate. I’ve read quite a few and one thing is certain: many of the Star Warriors want their characters and plots to remain static and predictable. Or incapable of growing and changing. God forbid if you’re a new character added into the plot and worse if you’re a female (that would seem to go for Kathleen Kennedy too, according to one audience reviewer).

I can’t even quote some of the quotes I read from RT, but for simplicity’s sake, here a brief negative review which sums up some of those who went on for thousands of words:

This is not a Star Wars movie. If you are a Star Wars fan who liked the previous movies for their themes and messages, and not simply the explosions and spacecraft, you will not like this movie. Rian Johnson has little or no understanding of, or simply does not care about, what made Star Wars special. This movie was a non-descript space action movie with the depth of a Transformers movie. – One star review, Adam D

And here’s a positive review that sums it all up:

I’m seeing a lot of crybabies on here who’s preconceived notion of what they thought should happen in Star Wars 30+ years ABY was shattered in TLJ. It was a good movie. Without nitpicking every scene it was good and entertaining. The account between the main protagonists Rey and Kylo was on point and Luke was great as well. I agree I was a little bit bagels by the casino scene and was really disappointed that we regressed back to full FYI scenes, but it didn’t ruin the whole movie. The fact that the movie was unpredictable was a good thing. After seeing Snoke’s identity revealed theory videos on my YouTube news feed for the past 2 years, to see him get killed off without explanation was kind of funny to me in a good way. If they came out and said he was Darth Plagues it would have been completely anti climatic. The fact is, this movie has stirred up raw emotions of anger and sadness amongst viewers and that is a good thing. A movie that makes us feel human is good in my book. – Four star view, Nik M

I can’t agree with Nik M’s assessment more, especially the last two highlighted lines.

Of course I saw “The Last Jedi” on opening weekend – I’d never miss it! I totally geeked out at New York Comic Con and visited the amazing exhibition presented there. Been watching trailers and keeping up with theories and more. My take? I loved it. And while I agree the casino scene wasn’t entirely necessary, it didn’t exactly ruin the movie, either. Nor did I mind the mild info dump scenes either – they served as illustrations to the plot. What really grabbed me was the attention to detail that didn’t seem to be present in other SW films. And yes, there was inside humor that either went ignored or unappreciated by the nay-sayers who pooh-poohed this film. My favorite goes something like this:

Luke: You look different…

Leia: Yes. I changed my hair.

Luke: I like it.

(not verbatim, but close enough)

I laughed out loud during that exchange. If you looked closely at Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, especially their eyes, you’ll catch a twinkle in there, almost as if it were ad libbed.

And if the negative reviewers want to get all bent out of shape over plot details, let them. Why aren’t they complaining over past film plot incredulities such as Leia handling the complete obliteration of her planet with barely a sigh, or Darth Vader, a person who’s supposed to feel the force so strong yet he has no idea he has a daughter (or seems to, anyway) who also possesses said force or can’t find either kid. Darth doesn’t even feel Leia’s force when she’s captured and standing right next to him! Why would he keep something like that secret? And if Kylo Ren and Rey project and touch each other’s hands, why didn’t that ever happen with Darth and his kids? Clearly when the original stories were written, those plot developments weren’t even taken into consideration and stuck with the bigger story.

Look, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and all of the others are STORIES. Episodes I, II & III were an aberration, a weak attempt on constructing an origin story. These films/stories spawned a giant empire that all of us Star Warriors support. And I certainly don’t believe anyone who says they’re through with the franchise aren’t waiting for the next episode and/or won’t see it. So get over yourselves, have some popcorn and watch the film over again. You know you will.

 

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