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Showing posts from September, 2011

Nimrod stories in many genres

Genesis 10:8-10 mentions a "Nimrod" as a founder of cities in Shinar (Sumeria) and Assyria, who is also called a "Mighty Hunter Before the Lord."  Yesterday, reading a classical historical work on the history of "Chaldea" by George Rawlinson, a set of story ideas about Nimrod crossed my mind. Rawlinson mentioned he believed the early Mesopotamians had worshipped Nimrod after his death and that as a god, his worship supplanted that of the original creator god, called Il in Akkadian, which is like the El or Elohim of Hebrew, the God of the Bible.  I thought, "What if Nimrod, a heroic figure no doubt, had set himself up to be worshipped during his lifetime, like the Roman emperors?"  So perhaps some of his friends and companions also became worshipped as gods, creating the first truly polytheistic system.  I'm of course taking the Biblical point of view that all humans once knew the one creator God--so polytheism would have to be a later inven

E does not equal MC2? Neutrino story technology.

As reported in this  MSNBC science link , scientists in at CERN in Geneva have conducted an experiment that appears to have sent neutrinos faster than the speed of light.  "Appears to" isn't quite right.  They repeated this experiment something like 1500 times and got the same result every time.  They know the neutrinos went faster than light. But to be absolutely certain of accuracy, they want confirmation from other scientists, of course.  If it should be that other scientists confirm this discovery, this could lead to a revolution in physics, because ever since Einstein the speed of light has been understood to be the fastest any particle of matter could ever go.  What the new laws of physics turn out to be that would account for the experiment results, no human being knows right now. This situation could become a big deal for science fiction.  The speed of light as the absolute limit that matter can travel is a major restriction in stories that try to match known

Book Title: "The Redneck Guide to Monster Hunting"

On Monday my son Mik and I went out shooting and wound up having a conversation about killing monsters.  I have to admit that when it comes to firearms instruction, I've been rather negligent with my kids.  We've only shot guns a few times and I also trained them in basic safety rules, including how to unload and clear a weapon.  This has to do with the cost of ammo being high when you're on a tight budget, not to mention the time required to get out to a range. But Mik is enlisting in the Marine Corps (Mik is short for "Mikhail," by the way) and so I thought it would be a good thing to prepare him for what's to come by imparting to him what relatively little shooting skill I possess.  We shot for several hours and Mik did well with the .22 rifle, putting so many rounds in one spot just off the center of the target that it looked almost like it had been hit once by a .50 caliber bullet. I remarked, "That's good enough for zombie killing" (zom

Jesus: "The guy who killed the dragon who killed Cinderella."--Confusion and Creativity

As I child of about 5, I'd been asked the question by a Sunday School teacher, "Who is Jesus?"  My five-year old answer? "He's the guy...who killed the dragon who killed Cinderella."  When asked who the Devil was, I answered, "Oh he's a cowboy!" These highly unorthodox answers wound up being something that adults in my life, especially my mother, mentioned for years to follow.  If you were put it in a box, it would go under the label "Crazy Things Travis did (or said) When Little."  These were stories my mother enjoyed repeating well into my teenage years (the box was far from empty), and without such repetitions I perhaps would have forgotten the entire incident. I do have a fragment of my own memory of my answers...I remember feeling a bit of goofy pride in myself when adults around me laughed and repeated the story.  But years later, I found myself wondering, "What in the world had I been thinking?" The Devil answer

Zombie Farmers and more (Zombie Ecology cnt'd)

Last weekend I had a discussion on my Zombie Ecology post with Aaron Dickey, longtime friend of my eldest son Karston and hardcore zombie film fan.  So we're going to indulge in some more zombie story idea-play. From my previous post, it so happens that one of the ideas I thought was original was not.  Zombie animals have been done before, though they became so from eating infected humans and/or general splatter rather than the way I proposed it.  But my question, "What do zombies eat? (when not eating humans)" was one Aaron hadn't encountered before.  So let's continue with that for a bit. What zombies eat depends on the type of zombie we are imagining:  1.  Supernatural black-magic zombies:  These don't need to eat anything, but they don't spread any zombie "disease" either, so their numbers don't automatically grow--so not even in often-inconsistent fiction will these guys be likely to take over the world.  2.  Infectious dumb zombies:

Jack of all Worlds

This morning, on what's for me a very long run (10 miles), a story idea popped into my head.  It was a highly unusual occurrence. Not that having a story idea pop in my head is unusual--no, that can happen almost any time for me, but not so much when running.  While running, I kind of space out and focus on breathing.  On occasion I pray, as in: "Please, please, God let me survive the next mile!" Ahem.  Anyway, the idea is based on the way I've heard some handymen-type-guys describe themselves: "I'm a jack of all trades, the master of none." Once this phrase popped into my head, I thought to myself, Wouldn't it be cool if there were a multi-world universe, like The Crystal Portal, with a main character who felt fairly comfortable in all of the worlds, but not truly at home in any one of them?  His name could be "Jack" and the books could be entitled, "Jack of all Worlds, Book 1, Book 2, etc."  That might make a good set of b

The serious business of Science Fiction and Fantasy

I've got friends that don't quite get science fiction and fantasy and don't really understand why I write it.  I recently deployed to Afghanistan and wrote some emails about my experiences there, emails I forwarded on to friends and family, who as a general group gave me positive feedback about my ability to write about the experience of being a soldier at war and who praised me for doing a good job capturing what Afghanistan is like (and Iraq, when I wrote about it in 2008).  A few of these friends suggested that if I want to write fiction, I should be writing military thriller genre, something like what Tom Clancy does. Truth is I could and maybe will someday.  I'm interested in military stuff and certain non-fiction, too, but writing about unreal worlds in general interests me more--and I think there's a positive reason why this is so, beyond the fact that I enjoy exercising my imagination.  You see, writing science fiction and fantasy is serious business. Th

What do the monsters under the bed have nightmares about?

A Facebook friend, Kyla Fournier, placed as her status the observation that "Even the monsters under the bed have nightmares."  The comment lit a spark of imagination in my mind. Another of Kyla's friends commented that the monsters have nightmares about the people on top of the bed, which would be ironic.  Of course, when we imagine creatures actually dwelling below the bed frame, we enter the world of the surreal.  But even a surreal story should have a certain internal consistency, IMHO. A monster afraid of the person on top of the bed is consistent in a way.  After all, if it's a monster, a powerful brute of some kind, in theory it should be able to come out any time it likes.  But no, it goes under the bed and stays there--perhaps because of a terror of those who dwell on the mattress up above... But a creature dwelling under the bed terrified of us rather ceases to be a monster, doesn't it? After all, the creatures of Monsters Inc  feared contaminatio

Nanite space weapons

According to Wikipedia ( ), the word "nanite" is just one of several words used to describe very small machines.  Research is underway to create such machines, continually making operating devices smaller and smaller. Of course, as of now, nanites are nowhere near as small as they can be in theory.  In theory and in the realm of science fiction, a fully-functioning machine could be so small as to be tinier than the smallest bacterium.  And these tiny machines could be designed to reproduce themselves automatically, which over time would allow enough of them to form to accomplish almost any purpose. A machine that small would be an ideal candidate for interstellar space travel.  Why? That's because the most straightforward approach to travel to other stars is to simply go through space as fast as possible, the closer to the speed of light, the better.  Light in a vacuum moves at around 186,000 miles per second, roughly 6 trillion mile

Zombie ecology

Zombies were originally conceived of as being dead bodies brought to life by black magic as I understand things. As such, zombies were immortal.  You could only really stop one by hacking it to bits, so the individual parts would no longer be able to move as a unit.  And even so, the separated bits would still be animated by a mindless desire to eat human least in one conception of "zombie." But more modern stories have brought new ideas of what it means to be walking dead.  The viral explanation is popular now.  Humans get twisted by a-rabies-on-steroids type infection, leaving them mindless, with infinite pain tolerance, and hungry for homo sapiens.   Any bite that does not kill will very quickly spread the disease--clearly zombie saliva is swarming with the pathogen.  The only guaranteed way to kill one of the beasts is to put a bullet in its brain. In these latter stories, it stands to reason that the zombies would still need to eat, right?  After all, w

What's the Big Idea?

I've heard that millions of people why would I think my voice would have anything distinctive to add to the general uproar? I don't actually know that I do.  To tell the truth, the thing that got me thinking about blogging was the publisher of my only novel assuring me that I'm the only one of her writers who DOESN'T have any connection to a blog--strongly suggesting I should do something to change that.  It seems a blog is useful in promoting one's writings... Believe it or not, I have no trouble going left when everyone else goes right.  In fact, you could say at times I've stubbornly preferred   going against the crowd...but I guess I've gotten wise enough over the years to see a knee-jerk reaction against all convention isn't smart.  The time I've spent in the Army may have contributed to that change of mindset on my part.  At least a bit. But there was no way I was going to agree to start my own blog if I had nothing to say.  The