Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Apocalypse Now?

First, Elon Musk came up with easy-to-use flamethrowers.


photo by Nike Scream 

Okay, she doesn’t work for Elon Musk, but just look up “Mary Elizabeth Winstead,” “flamethrower,” and “images” and have a blast. 

Then Costco came up with food kits for emergencies or natural disasters that can feed a family of four for a whole year right here, that will have a shelf life of twenty-five years. Delivery time varies.

photo by Nandaro

And now it turns out that certain towns in Georgia require gun ownership. That’s right—they don’t ban gun ownership, they require it.

Here and here.

So, what do they know that we don’t, huh? Is something approaching? If you don’t like guns, look up one of those flamethrowers on eBay.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Young Adult and AR-15

I don’t normally make it all the way though a YA novel. Partly it’s because of the lack of detail in the scene descriptions compared to a novel for adults. But mainly it’s because I never felt the same angst when I was a teen that the main characters feel all the time. It’s portrayed as normal, and it just reads as foreign to me. But I did read three all the way through.

Alive by Scott Sigler was fascinating. A teenager is horrified to wake up and find herself in what seems to be a coffin. She has no idea how she ended up there. She struggles free of the bonds keeping her in place, pushes open the lid, and climbs out. She’s dressed nicely, including a tie, which doesn’t make sense.

Then she sees she’s in a room filled with similar coffins, which are actually metal containers. She helps other teens get out of theirs. Learning that her first initial is M., she goes by the name Em for much of the story. A number of these teenagers band together and try to find their parents. But the long corridor they walk in keeps going up and up for what seems to be an impossible length. Are they underground? What is this place?

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey features an unusual attack sequence by aliens. Instead of destroying humanity all at once, they use wave attacks composed of an electromagnetic pulse, an earthquake, and a plague. Perhaps they don’t want to damage the Earth too much before taking it over? Cassie, a teenage girl who is one of the survivors, doesn’t know.

Cassie is on the run from beings who look human, but who are picking off the last survivors. Wounded, she meets a young man who helps her recover, but can she trust him?

When the movie came out, I was surprised that the critics panned it, because the trailer looked so great. I recently saw it on TV, and I was shocked at how closely it followed the book. I think I know why the critics didn’t like it: The young people in it become comfortable using guns, which gave the critics an eek reaction.

If you don’t want to see Cassie with an AR-15, don’t watch this trailer. But realistically, what else is she supposed to do?

I also read all the way through The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

I already reviewed the movie version here. Both are interesting, with the movie making the actions scenes much bigger.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Short Story Submissions

Yesterday, I submitted a mashed-up fairy tale short story that I first wrote in 2006 to an online magazine. Today, I submitted a science fiction short story that mainly involves two characters that I first wrote in 2011 to another magazine. I had previously submitted them all over the place years ago. This year I looked them over, making some parts more terse or more detailed, but no real changes to the plot or characters.

Why did I think of them? In the TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Connor said a good piece of code is like a song—you can’t get it out of your head. That’s what writing a good story is like. Of course, my writing won’t bring about the end civilization. Or will it?

On a related concept, I can highly recommend the short story “The Rescue of the Renegat” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch in the January/February issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. In the short form, she can really deliver a punch to the gut.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Whatcha Gonna Do?

On my way to church and back, I saw four cars pulled over by the police. They were obviously out in force, looking for anyone who started to get tanked before the Super Bowl started. One of the officers stepped out of his car right as I passed them, his head very close to my car.

 photo by Something Original

On the other hand, they could have been in a bad mood because they had to work during the Super Bowl. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Purge

Here’s my latest book purge: three hardcovers and nine paperbacks. These just didn’t turn out to be as interesting as I thought they would. They are both fiction and non-fiction, and I’ll sell them to a used books store.

In addition, I plan on giving a book on writing to a friend, and I’ll donate four non-fiction books to a library.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Falling on Books Dream

In my dream, I was looking around in my parents’ living room for an issue of MAD Magazine that had something important in it. This was the old version of MAD, which would have astonishing artwork as they parodied current movies through their entire plots. Also, they could have biting social satire.

public domain

I didn’t want to ask my parents where it was, since it would be kind of embarrassing to consider an issue of MAD to be important and to spend time looking for it.

I went into the kitchen, which was a gigantic area more like the kitchen for a large restaurant. My mother was doing something at the sink. At this point my search in the dream was now for a magazine of Star Trek: Voyager.

Photo by Commander Idham

The sink was in a long island of the kitchen, and I was on the other side of it. Suddenly I grabbed the tall, upside-down U of the faucet and swung on it, leaving the ground.

In real life, I rolled off my bed. I landed on the three stacks of books I keep beside it, each almost as tall as the bed. That gave me a scrape on my stomach an inch and a half long. I had minor scrapes on my thighs. The books are okay.

So, what happened in that last part of my dream? I’m sure I didn’t dream of swinging around the faucet, and then my body followed suit. Instead, my brain sensed my body’s motion and incorporated that into my dream. I consider dreams to mostly be the brain’s way of defragging itself to sort memories together, but it’s obviously a complex process.

I think it’s extremely important for writers to write down their dreams. For a more interesting one, click here

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

So there’s this story out there called Pride and Prejudice. It has four acts: Mrs. Bennet tries to foist one of her daughters on a rich guy. The rich guy’s friend, Darcy, gets wind of it and disapproves. The oldest daughter, Lizzy, gets wind of that and disapproves of Darcy. Lizzy and Darcy fall in love anyway.

Someone improved this odd story by adding zombies to it. The result is the eminently watchable Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I received for Christmas.

For my previous review of the movie, click here. Some people will find one version of the story boring, while some will find the other version disgusting, but I won’t say which is which. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lithium Battery Fail and Alpha Shift

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t like large amounts of lithium batteries in cargo holds of airplanes. Watch what happens at 1:03.

People mistakenly think that batteries are safe, while things like gasoline or jet fuel are not. Let’s switch to cars. There’s a famous brand out there that I won’t name, since I’d like to keep this blog going. But they’ve had a couple of notable car fires. Why?

Think about it. The battery has to contain the same amount of power as a tank of gas. If the battery gets jostled or some sparking occurs at just the right spot, it could explode or catch on fire just as disastrously.

This sort of mistake used to happen in science fiction all the time. Some futuristic craft is said to run on batteries as it flies around a planet. But that much energy concentrated in a small space is just about guaranteed to blow up at the very start of whatever dramatic adventure they head into.

Which brings me to an excerpt from my science fiction manuscript, Alpha Shift. Captain Christina Chechi’s ship has been attacked, and she has been injured and trapped in an elevator. Now with the help of an engineer named Kelley who found a way to get onto a monitor, she’s trying to get out.  

And how does the power work on this spaceship? It works just fine.

The elevator stopped.
Kelley’s image had faded, now it frowned. “That didn’t seem near long enough. You’d better check the panel.”
She did, and saw the manual indicator matched the lit-up number above the doors. “I only went down two decks. What does this red light mean?”
“Means the doors to that deck are open and haven’t any power. Heh, funny. That should make the elevator bypass that floor.” Obviously, in addition to the cab of the elevator having its own set of automated doors, each deck had to have its own set of automated doors to keep anyone from stepping into the shaft. “Something made your elevator cab do an emergency stop.”
“Could sabotage to the power station on this deck do that?”
“Yes ma’am.”
Resentment burned within her breast. “I will go out onto this deck and see what’s happening.”
“If you believe some violent revolutionaries are sabotaging that deck, there’s no way you want to go out there, begging your pardon ma’am.”
“Do not question my decision. Can you follow me using the wall monitors on the deck?”
“No ma’am.” His faded image frowned at the eyebrows. “I’m having a difficult enough of a time communicating with you in an elevator that descended two decks. I wouldn’t know how to access the monitors on that deck.”
“Then tell me how to open these doors.” They slowly slid open to reveal her elevator cab had stopped a couple inches below deck level. The automated doors for the deck were open partway. Beyond that the corridor was mostly dark and empty. Dim emergency lights shone at strategic intervals.
“Yes, power has been cut. I will investigate. If the enemy are present, I will engage them.”

What contorted Kelley’s features wasn’t just fear. It was pain—pain at staying behind and not helping her. 

Handbell Choir

A handbell choir played at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue today.


They showed incredible skill.

This picture isn’t as good as one I took of the same choir last year


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