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Showing posts from March, 2014

Sharing My Writing Process--An Experiment

I'm participating in a science experiment of sorts--I'm sharing links to and from other blogs with the frank intent to see if that gets more people interested in my story ideas and my writing. :) (Kat Heckenbach, a fine writer and friend, (www.katheckenbach.com) persuaded me to partake in this event--her site is worth a look.)
The content of this link-sharing experiment is to discuss the process of my writing. What am I working on as a writer? How do I define myself?
I have a huge backlog of story ideas I'd like to write, many but not all of which are discussed somewhere on this blog. I'm currently actively writing a fantasy novel called The Bond of the Sword, with the ambition of being to fantasy like what Starship Troopers or The Forever War are to military science fiction. The ideas behind the story draw on some of my personal observations about warfare from my own service in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
I'm also writing a novella called "Medieval Mars" tha…

The Scientific Historian's Experimental Time Laboratory

Reading a book on historical methodologies, I noticed the inherent problem with making history scientific lies in the fact that history is not truly repeatable. Certain patterns repeat of course, but historical events are by definition a one-time affair.

Imagine a future historian with a time machine. Of course going back in a time machine to observe history has been the stuff of many stories, but imagine this future historian is more interested in the why behind past events. So he conducts changes in the timeline to see what happens as a result, making time in effect his experimental laboratory.

So, for example, say this historian takes on the question, "Was the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire an inevitable consequence of a number events (such as increasing paralysis in the Roman senate)? Or was it because of the unique genius of Julius Caesar?" Historians of our day can read the evidence and make reasoned guesses, but this future historian can go…

The Schizomancer

Imagine that the origin of psychological disorders is usually brain chemistry, as we are told. (Yes, this does involve at least a bit of imagination, since less is in fact known about the brain that most people realize.) Of course, plenty of people with such disorders went untreated in medieval or ancient times. Some would be seen as demon possessed or touched by the gods. Or simply very strange.

But imagine a world of fantasy, where the laws of nature are altered so that performing magic is a genuine possibility, where wizards and sorcerers abound. Yet the human beings in this world are still human beings, with the same human weaknesses of humans we know. Some of them with brain chemistry imbalances, including schizophrenia. Imagine a wizard or other practitioner of magic who is schizophrenic.

A snippet from Wikipedia defines some of the symptoms of schizophrenia as follows:

Positive symptoms are those that most individuals do not normally experience but are present in people with sch…

The Ministry of Knowledge: Authorized Thoughts Only

An Army Reserve colleague/University of Texas student mentioned to me how great it would be if you could download knowledge directly into the brain, the way Neo learns martial arts in The Matrix. I pointed out to him (thanks for the inspiration, Walter Ellison), that such an ability to learn would not necessarily be an unmitigated good. For example, what if someone downloaded the knowledge of making explosives and used it to blow people up? Or poisons, computer viruses, safecracking techniques, etc?

So let's follow this idea out to where it builds a science fiction story setting: Say the technology to download information directly into the brain exists in a future time. Yet some of knowledge that potentially could be instantly learned is deemed dangerous (justly so). So imagine a government agency is created with the authority to make sure that brain downloads only contain data suitable for the person receiving that information.

We'll call that agency "The Ministry of Kno…