Nov 10, 2017

Weekend Reads - 171110



This week we look at the classic Trolley Problem and why it turns us into sociopaths rather than proving any useful information about morality. Also NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is in full swing, have you started on your novel yet?

When it's time to relax this weekend, grab your favourite beverage and relax by reading the following articles.

It turns us into horrible people, and discourages us from examining the structural factors that determine our choices…

For weeks, I’ve seen writers online talking about this day, preparing for this day, hopeful for this day. It is the day that many new writers — those who may find it difficult to find the time to write or the focus or the wherewithal — are allowed to dream hard and work hard and keyboard hard to write a novel in one month. Fueled by coffee and newly-gathered Halloween candy, writers all over the world have been putting down words day. It is an exciting thing.

China’s massive new library has such a sleek and futuristic design that it looks like it came straight out of the works of science fiction.

Amazon has spoken openly about wanting to find its own Game of Thrones, and it appears it may start mining arguably the most famous fantasy series ever written to try and compete, Lord of the Rings. (I don’t necessarily agree with the writer but he has some interesting points)” -Wolf

Earth is most fortunate to have vast webs of magnetic fields surrounding it. Without them, much of our atmosphere would have been gradually torn away by powerful solar winds long ago, making it unlikely that anything like us would be here.



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Nov 5, 2017

Unfinished Tales | Shadow Worlds | Part Two



'Are you ready to make history today?'

Thomas woke startled, Cale had slapped him on the shoulder as he asked the question. He stood there fishing around in a plastic carry bag as he waited for Thomas to wake fully, nodded and then disappeared down the hallway and into his bedroom.

Thomas rubbed his eyes and peered up at the spider he had been watching as he dozed off. It was gone. Slowly he stood up, he took his time following Cale. 'He can wait for me this time', he thought. By the time he reached Cales bedroom the missing part had been installed, somewhere, and the only evidence of it's existence was the discarded packaging, adding to the junk on the bedroom floor.

'What is it?' Thomas enquired.

'It's a prototype.' replied Cale, 'Once the preliminary testing has been completed I'll reduce the size and place it in a stylish case.'

'You haven't tested it yet?' Exclaimed Thomas. '...Hang on! What is it?' He insisted.

'It's an Atomic Reducer.' Cale beamed. He could see by the look on Thomas' face that he wasn't as excited as he should be by this, so tried again. 'It's a shrink ray!'

'Oh, okay so what is it really?'

'It's a shrink ray.'

'What? How? No, all I can see is a telescope wrapped in... what is that, tinsel?'

'No.'

"There's a lazer pointer taped to one end... and what's that a washing machine?'

'No, yes, well no, I've turned it into a small linear accelerator.'

'What?! Do you know how dangerous that is? What if something goes wrong? Someone could get hurt... Grace! Um... look, I don't believe you.'

'Don't worry it's only a small one.' Cale assured him. 'It only has to convert the 240 volt power supply here into the 12 gigavolts needed to magnetically induce the electrons causing them to reduce their orbits.'

As he spoke Cale tapped in a command on the computer keyboard and immediately a high pitched whine started. Soon the air in the room was electrified, the hairs on Thomas' arm started standing on end. There came a distintictive smell of ozone and the centre of the room was bathed in a faint red glow. The dust particles, and there were lots of them in the room, begain to glitter and pop.

Thomas slowly turned to look at Cale, an incredulus expression fixed on his face.

'Nothing to worry about.' Cale stated. 'It's just the dust particles being charged by the magnetic induction field. Take a look in the centre of the room, yeah there on that stool is our test subject.' On the stool sat a cheap model plane.

'Nothings happening.' Observed Thomas.

'Let's give it a bit more power then.' Cale tapped away at the small keyboard, and after a few seconds looked up at the test subject. There was no visible change, only the ubiquitious whine changed in tone, becoming even more annoying. Cale typed a few more lines of code and with a dramatic twirl of his hand, tapped the [enter] key. 'That's full power. Let's see what this baby can do!'

Thomas looked around and his eye caught the red glow of a cheap three digit LED display. It was marked power output. The numbers were quickly rising until they read 999, the highest output it could show. The electronic whine became an uncomfortable scream. The friends stood staring, transfixed by the small red glow surrounding the test subject.

Still nothing happened.

***

In another part of the house Grace was trying to dry her hair. She was used to her brother's crazy schemes and inventions and for a while she had tolerated the annoying electronic noise filling the house. It wasn't until all the lights dimmed and then exploded along with her hair dryer that she decided it was time to put a stop to this.

'You've gone too far this time, and you're going to buy me a new hairdryer, NOT fix this one!' Thought Grace as she stalked out of her room in search of her brother.

***

'l told you nothing would happen,' Thomas yelled over the electronic scream. 'All you’re going to do is blow us up with that linear accelerator of yours... if it is a real one.'

'Wait! Look at the model!'

The air around the model was starting to distort, it wavered like a mirage. The distortion was increasing and colours were starting to form. The model looked like it too was distorting, twisting, no, melting! Then folded in on itself.

'See it's working.' Cale cried gleefully.

Grace arrived in time to see the friends staring at a tiny rainbow coloured hole in the middle of the room. They were totally oblivious to her presence. Then it happen. With a sound of a roaring ocean it exploded outward expanding ten-fold. It paused, hanging in the air, a tear in the fabric of space and time. The edges rippled with a multitude of colours while the centre was deep black. A sense of intense cold emanated from it. As it hung there it disgorged a myriad of tiny fluorescent red and green particles. These particles quickly filled the room, surrounding the contents including the three humans present. For a moment everyone was transfixed by the other worldliness of the scene. The particles gently fell, coating everything in the room. Slowly the outer edges began to rotate, picking up speed on each rotation. The stillness ended as the hole became a swirling vortex, it began to assert its own gravity. The vortex pulled each stick of furniture, the electronic equipment and the two friends into its colourful void.

The room was finally clean. Only Grace remained, tightly gripping a power lead to save herself from being pulled in. She hung there sideways, inching toward the door until the cord ripped out of the power socket.

As the cord was pulled free it cut the power, the vortex closed instantly and the room became calm and still once more.

But Grace was beyond the event horizon, Grace was gone too.

The power cord fell to the ground, severed, the only remaining evidence that the room had previously been occupied.

---
Shadow Worlds | Part One  
Shadow Worlds | Part Two
Shadow Worlds | Part Three

When I was younger I tried my hand at writing short stories, but gave up before turning 20. You can find a shorten version of why in this article. I thought I had lost all of this work until recently my father discovered and handed over this manuscript. It was a fantasy story I had been working on way back then. The outline is lost, I was 'pantsing' (or writing whatever came into my mind.) but what is left is three small chapters which I thought I'd share.

Enjoy reading more and thinking more... with your favourite beverage!

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Nov 3, 2017

Weekend Reads - 171103


This week we take a look at the feeling modern culture is fearful of, sadness. It's a good read. Also this week lots of science stuff. In the Science of Science Fiction Swinburne astronomer Associate Professor Alan Duffy reveals his scientific-accuracy rating system, which is based on the movie rating system. And there's more along with another theory to try and explain the Fermi Paradox, monster planets and Star Trek.

So when you have some free time this weekend to do some reading enjoy the following articles with your favourite beverage, starting with my latest one of course, The Far Called Trilogy by Stephen Hunt.

Happiness is not the default for most. Happiness is flashed around like life’s holy grail – as something to be sought out and achieved – so for the greater some, ‘future happiness’ is in perpetual hot pursuit.

How accurate is the science of science fiction? Swinburne astronomer Associate Professor Alan Duffy reveals his scientific-accuracy rating system.

Planetary scientist Alan Stern of Colorado's Southwest Research Institute has proposed a new theory for why our nearest neighbors haven't been returning our calls. Essentially, he argues that other alien life throughout our own galaxy is simply too cold to listen to our desperate cries for attention.

A giant planet, which should not exist according to planet formation theory, has been discovered around a distant star. The new research is presented in a paper recently accepted for publication in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

If you think technologies from Star Trek seem far-fetched, think again. Many of the devices from the acclaimed television series are slowly becoming a reality. While we may not be teleporting people from starships to a planet's surface anytime soon, we are getting closer to developing other tools essential for future space travel endeavours.


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Nov 1, 2017

Discover | The Cityborn by Edward Willett



Here's a science fiction story which seems to have everything you want. It's has suspense, mystery and for fans of 1984 and Brave New World, there is a dystopian element to it as well. The Darque Reviews blurb caught my attention when they wrote the author blends science fiction with heavy religious beliefs into a well-written story-line that’s filled with dramatic scenery and character detail. The mention of a stories world building will always gets my attention, and I'm interested in seeing his take on the religious beliefs, but somehow think it may end up with the stale old troupe of 'Galileo and the Spanish inquisition'. However I'm happy to be surprised.

“The author was constantly surprising me, which doesn’t happen often, twisting the usual sci-fi conventions into more than just a shoot ‘em up space opera. Edward Willett has created people, personalities with belief systems and misguided judgments who make mistakes in trying to do what they believe is right.” —Boomtron

Have you read this book yet? I'd be interested in hearing what you think.

Oct 29, 2017

The Far Called Trilogy by Stephen Hunt | Quicklooks




Such a fantastic story.  I read the entire trilogy back-to-back (during May 2016), and thoroughly enjoyed it. There have been times when I've done this with other trilogies or series and sometimes this would produced a story fatigue. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about this is where reading starts to become a chore, and you end up ploughing through just wanting to see how it all wraps up. Or alternatively you need to put it down for a while, which means you may not pick it up for some time. Not with this story. It was compelling and Stephen changed point of view enough to keep it fresh and had you wanting to read more.

Oct 27, 2017

Weekend Reads - 171027



Here are some articles I've been reading and thinking about this week. There is an article on writing short stories, the reason to read lots of books, a few articles about changes to social media and come points to think about before posting on social media. There is also an update on NASA's latest rocket engine which may get us to Mars.

Speaking about short stories, add my latest post Unfinished Tales | Shadow Worlds | Part One to your reading this weekend.

So when you have some time to relax and read enjoy the following articles with your favourite beverage.

Oct 25, 2017

Discover | Killing Gravity by Corey J. White


Here's a fast paced, action packed space opera starting a woman on the run from people who turned her into the powerful living weapon known.... and there's a cat in there too.  Definitely one to look out for.  Have you read it? Let me know what you thought.