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Showing posts from October, 2011

The Crystal Portal vs. Wizard of Oz, stories in contrast

Yesterday I had a book signing event for my novel, The Crystal Portal.  At one point a church friend (Larry Schmetzer) asked me what the story basically was about.  I found myself struggling to answer concisely.

I suppose that's because the words for my story flowed more from my subconscious self than my planning mind.  I created characters and a setting and to a certain extent let them interact according to the natures I gave them and voila--a story formed.  While I did have certain specific plot events in mind when I started writing, events I steered the characters toward, I did not know what the story would wind up becoming when I first began to write it.

I hadn't begun with a full understanding of the reasons I wrote what I did, nor had I after writing completely analyzed the tale in order to sum it up quickly.  I'm trying to fix that here.

You see, of familiar stories, my story is most like The Wizard of Oz.  In that classic tale, four main characters are united in a …

Carb Loading for Superheroes--Comic Book Sci Fi and Fantasy Physics

Superheroes are often viewed as a subset of science fiction.  I'd say they're more fantasy, because the ordinary laws of physics that limit you and me usually get ignored in superhero stories.
Take the Law of Conservation of Matter--when Bruce Banner transforms into the Incredible Hulk, the cells of his body are supposed to expand to a massive size as he becomes the giant green monster.  The problem is that according to conservation of matter, he'd have the same amount of total mass in his body even as his cells expanded--the Hulk would then weigh the same as Banner himself, though being a lot bigger, his density would have to be significantly lower.  If Conservation of Matter were obeyed, the Hulk's physique be a lot more like the Stay Puft Marshmellowman's than like, well, the Hulk...
You can see I take the fundamental distinction between science fiction and fantasy as resting in attempting to obey the known physical laws of the universe.  Sci fi to be properly s…

A Reaction to "The Walking Dead"--Where is the military?

In the two months of this blog I've talked more about zombies than anything else.  You might think that resulted from me having seen the current cable TV series on zombies, AMC's "The Walking Dead." But in fact I hadn't watched it until this past week.

Having seen the series now, which by the way does show zombies eating about anything they can get their hands on, including wild animals (which seem immune to the disease), I'm asking myself what should be an obvious question:  Where is the military in all this?

The show is set in the Atlanta region and more than once shows a single abandoned tank in a defensive position, apparently having been overrun by zombies.  Hey, I recognize this is just a story with a certain defined premise and is more interested in looking at the human characters going through the zombie apocalypse than the zombies themselves, but I found the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy any story severely strained by seeing an tank aband…

Alien Counterinsurgency Stories

A story setting in which aliens invade planet Earth much as the United States invaded Iraq or Afghanistan is hardly ironic in and of itself.  What I mean by "as the US invaded" is in using the same sort of method--aliens hitting us with technology and precise strikes so advanced we can't counter them, specifically targeting people from far enough away (say high Earth orbit) that there's nothing we can do about it before they destroy our capacity to resist.  The aliens would also be the same in trying to avoid hurting the general populace, eliminating our leaders, and establishing new leaders under new rules.  Alien troops could work side by side with human troops for the purposed of training them to "take over" while they simultaneously work to rebuild our shattered industries along their lines.  Alien forces would continue to fight a human counterinsurgency, as humanity as whole adopts Afghan and Iraqi style tactics of suicide bombings and intimidation.

Th…