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Showing posts from 2013

Free stories based on Travis' Big Ideas: DEC 10 - DEC 14. (Plus NO REVOLUTION TOO SMALL!)

I've attempted to expand the purpose of this blog to go beyond talking about story ideas to launching some of my stories based on the ideas I blog about. This particular post will promote the stories, but also will talk about how the ideas from this blog fed into them. The Unknown Biologic  tale actually was a story of mine first, one from maybe five years or so ago which I revised quite a bit recently. I scoured the tale for an idea behind the story to justify creating a blog entry for it. The idea I picked was about aliens having DNA that matches the DNA of planet Earth. There were other points I could have talked about instead. I portray a future medical station in an interstellar war, featuring a main character who is a Hutterite. The Hutterian Brethren are Anabaptists like the Amish, with the same tradition of pacifism, but not the same attitude towards technology. The "Unknown Biologic" is the alien that they pick up, which happens to be very much like an oceanic

Gravitational Lens Communications and Observation

As reported in this  Icarus Interstellar  link, there's a natural effect of our sun's (or any star's) gravity that should be included in realistic science fiction stories. It turns out that the sun's gravity bends space enough, and thus the light passing though space, to allow a space telescope or a space telecommunications array to get a significant boost in resolution. So every spacefaring race (or nearly every) would naturally build stations at a sufficient distance from their star to make use of this natural gravitational effect, receiving a huge boost in gain essentially for only the cost of putting the arrays or telescopes in place. You'd probably need multiple stations of this type, at various points around the sun, because the focus would naturally be on things on the other side of the sun relative to the station. And the distance is far, around 700  AUs  from the sun, so it wouldn't be easy to shift a station from one side of the focus to another. (Fo

Unknown Biologic: Aliens with Earth Genetics

Science fiction likes aliens. I've written a story,  Unknown Biologic , that illustrates a twist on the conventional alien tale. There's a presumption which naturally goes along with believing that evolution produced human intelligence that it would produce many other intelligences in the universe, ones that don't necessarily have much in common with the human race. Respectfully, I happen to believe the universe was created by God, so God produced human intelligence and logically would also have created any aliens. I've talked in a previous post about  7 christian objections to the existence of aliens , dismissing those objections for a Christian writer who wants to write science fiction and include aliens in the story. In my posts  four faces around throne of God  and  alien God of the Christian rapture  I offered some distinctly Christian twists on writing about aliens. Now I'm offering another twist. What if when aliens are discovered in a story universe,

Rescue Brokers, Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, and Mercenaries: Gusto for Hire

Some of the most colorful characters in science fiction and fantasy are those whose primary interest is--or seems to be--collecting the money due them. Whether it turns out the hired hand in fact has a hidden heart of gold like Han Solo, or is nothing but surly voice in scarred armor like Boba Fett, characters who enter the plot with apparent or real disdain in the outcome of the story allows them to casually wisecrack when more engaged characters like Luke Skywalker are committed to being sincere, which at times makes them a bit boring. I must say I'm an earnest kind of guy myself, which is probably why I usually write sincere characters who deeply care. About everything. So when my friend  Mike Lynch  invited me to write a story about his "Rescue Broker," a category of character he created himself, I didn't know what to think. A rescue broker is someone who will do pretty much anything a bounty hunter, smuggler, or mercenary would do, but as specifically hire

Magical Space Opera

In the vast realm of speculative fiction, there exist a number of blends of science fiction and fantasy. "Magical space opera" is term I haven't heard used before, but a relative of mine in the know says isn't original to me. But perhaps what I mean by the term isn't standard and can inspire some stories of a new type. To get to what I mean, let's define space opera. Wikipedia has it as:   "A subgenre of  science fiction  that often emphasizes  romantic , often  melodramatic  adventure, set mainly or entirely in  outer space , usually involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music but is analogous to ' soap opera ' ." A lot people think of classic science fiction stories when they think of space opera (an example I'd give is  Ray Gun Revival , which deliberately tried to revive the style of Golden Age science fiction space opera). But really, as opposed to hard sc

Nanite Infested Aliens

Inspired by the history of Europeans coming to the New World carrying bacteria to which the native inhabitants had little to no immunity, I thought: "What if aliens visiting Earth carried their own sort of infection or infestation, to which we humans had no immunity?" Sort of a War of the Worlds scenario in reverse... But I'm sure that sort of thing has already been done by someone, aliens carrying virulent disease(s) humans don't carry. So what if the infestation were of nanites--what  if nanites become a standard part of healthcare for any advanced technological species? (Just as hand washing and sterilization of medical instruments become standard at a certain point of development--once bacteria are discovered and found to be potentially harmful.) So that nanites are literally crawling all over (and inside) the bodies of high-tech aliens (or perhaps time travelers from Earth's distant future). What if these nanites potentially posed a risk to the human race?

A review of Demon: A Memoir--Sympathy for the Devil?

I just finished reading Tosca Lee’s Demon: A Memoir . Regular readers of my blog know I’m keenly interested in a variety of science fiction and fantasy topics and as Christian writer I’ve taken a particular interest in some aspects of the supernatural. Specifically, I’ve written numerous posts that relate to the topic of angels (my last was  Angels and Aliens ). So I was keenly interested in how Demon would portray fallen angles, a.k.a. demons. By the way, in talking about this book, I’m naturally going to commit some spoilers… Overall, in spite of a few ticks that are other than human, such as the demon in the story being fascinated with watching people eat and drink, this work does quite a lot to humanize the demonic, though I don’t think that was the author’s intent. In fact, I’d say the demon Lucian is really every bit as much an empathetic figure as the narrating protagonist, Clay. Again, I don’t believe Tosca Lee intended that, but I think that’s the case. I found

Boltzmann brains--randomly self-generating intelligences

A “Boltzmann brain” is the name for an intelligence that would randomly generate itself out of nothing. In some cosmological theories, believe it or not, the number of Boltzmann brains are thought to outnumber every human being who has ever lived or will ever live. By a long shot. Please allow me to explain this odd concept I just learned about a few days ago. Boltzmann  was an Austrian physicist, best known for the development of statistical mechanics, who proposed that the entire universe could have randomly generated itself out of nothing, even though that would be a highly improbable occurrence (to say the least). However, if the universe is thought to have existed forever, sooner or later it would have happened, was his reasoning--because even if the odds against something happening are one in one trillion or lower, given infinite time, even something unbelievably unlikely will eventually happen. Eventually--as in a trillion trillion trillion trillion years perhaps. This ide

Vegetarian Vampires (and other "special" monsters)

Imagine a set of gag monsters, that could be included in stories for outright slapstick, or which in slightly altered versions of what I propose could provide some needed comic relief. Such as a vampire who has the standard hollow fangs—but uses them to impale rinds and drink from citrus…and who turns into a fruit bat instead of a vampire bat. Perhaps this sort of vampire could be blonde and always have a deep rich tan (from sleeping in a tanning booth, of course). Naturally, such a creature would tend to wear white—or maybe really bright colors, like yellow or orange…and would drive a lime-colored VW beetle or something. And work out a lot…and wear spandex…(or perhaps earth tones? Live in a cabin? And recycle everything?) Imagine a less-than-successful supervillain trying to create a zombie virus and discovering in clinical trials (‘cause you’d have to try it out first, right?) that nearly everything about the virus works as planned…it does turn people into shuffling idiots,

Troubles with Transporters

The “transporter” is a widely-known piece of Star Trek technology. For the uninitiated, essentially the device grabs hold of you (stepping on the transporter deck is optional but is somehow helpful, perhaps in reducing the amount of energy required) and converts you into a beam of energy. The beam of energy goes a certain distance (the distance is limited to tens of thousands of kilometers) and spontaneously reassembles the person that underwent the process into his or her original state. Maybe for another post I’ll talk about how teleportation could perhaps conceivably work…but for now, let’s just assume the system really does work as the shows and movies portray it working…I gotta say though that I would under no circumstances be comfortable with my body being converted into a beam of energy and being reassembled elsewhere…what about signal interference? I don’t know how the beam moves or what form of energy it consists of (Star Trek isn’t clear about that), but whatever it uses

The Kingdom of Dark Matter

The term "dark matter" refers to a number of hypothetical substances proposed to provide the mass that galaxies and galaxy clusters need to have to spin as rapidly as they spin and to stay in cluster formations with one another--mass which the observable parts of galaxies contain only a tiny fraction of and which by best calculations is too evenly distributed to be hidden in massive objects at given points like black holes. There currently exists no universally acceptable explanation of dark matter--in fact, some physicists claim instead the nature of gravity is something other than expected at large scales, Tensor-vector-scalar gravity and Modified Newtonian dynamics  being two such attempts to explain how observed evidence of galactic astronomy coincides with known laws of physics without evoking matter that has never been observed. In general, physicists have preferred imagining unobserved matter over changing already-known gravity to solve this problem, inventing &qu

A World of Magic-powered Technology

Magical devices are extremely common in fantasy stories of all stripes. Cloaks of invisibility, magic wands, and crystal ball variations abound (and much more). Steampunk stories at times blend the magical with a Victorian feel...or make technology that might be imagined to work in the 19th century (but which can't really), actually work , producing an effect that is almost magical. I mean things like airships shaped like sailing ships with levitating balloons that are in fact far too small for the weight lifted, or mechanical men who act in ways more complex than current robotic technology can deliver--but powered by mechanical clockworks. But I think it would be interesting to feature stories in which devices are built--that is, technology exists--that are based on mechanical devices with magic essentially taking the role that electricity and electrical-powered devices perform in our world. So you'd build an elevator, for example, much like we do in our technological age-

7 Christian Objections to the Existence of Aliens--posed and answered

Caveat--I address this topic as an Evangelical Christian writer who has included aliens in science fiction stories and feel justified in doing so. The objections (and answers) below were written by me, but based on things I've encountered elsewhere: O1. No aliens (or alien planets) are mentioned anywhere in the Bible, so there must not be any. A1. A counter-argument could be made based on the fact that the Bible certainly does mention non-human intelligences. The difference between supernatural intelligences and aliens is something I've discussed in previous posts (such as Angels and Aliens ), but nonetheless, the point could be made that the Bible clearly envisions intelligences other than that of mankind...However, the best answer to this question would be to point out that the Bible didn't mention the Americas either--yet they existed and furthermore were inhabited by intelligent beings--humans of course, but to people during the Age of Exploration it was a mystery ho