No Time

Had a busy day. After work, for the first time, went out to happy hour with my co-wokers.

Don’t get em wrong, I’m not a snob refusing to associate with my co-workers, just being a public transit guy in San Diego means very limited capability for such things.

Anyway I was offered rides so I did not need to worry about the buses, or lack thereof.

We ate snacks and had drinks, then we all went to see Paranormal Activity.

Full review to follow at a later date. The film was okay, but flawed.

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No Writing tonight

This morning my alarm went off and I had a headache. Anytime I have a headache before I have even opened my eyes is a bad time.

I stumbled into the bathroom and, knowing the pain that was too follow, switched on the lights. Yup, hot needles shoved through my eyes and into my brain.

Despite this I managed to make it to work, on time, and struggling through a tough day.

It’s late and my head still aches. I have done nothing this evening except watch an extended version of an SF film tonight with my sweetie.

Here’s a hint to what film we started tonight. (The extended version is nearly three hours long)

Get That Floating fat Man in here! The Baron!

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Things we will not do with alien life

So as I have been working on Cawdor and doing my research and planning it has sparked a desire to write a quick essay about what we will not do with alien life.

Popular media has given us some of the bad ideas about what might happen when we get out into the stars and land on worlds with alien biomes and ecosystems. Star Trek is the worst offender with the character of Mister Spock. Mister Spock is the half-breed offspring between a human woman and a Vulcan man.

RULE ONE: We will NOT breed with it.

The process of creating sperm and egg is a delicate and sensitive process prone to all manner of error and failures. A significant number of pregnancies self terminate in human/human coupling because of chromosomal issues. We can not cross breed with apes our closest evolutionary cousins. In no way shape or manner are we going to successfully cross-breed with the product of a totally alien evolutionary process.

(Yes, I know late in Next Gen they brought out the idea that the galaxy was seeded by a forerunner race and this why all the aliens can interbreed. Balderdash! We have the clear proof of evolution here on earth in the DNA of the biosphere. Even if someone went around and seeded the same DNA on dozens and hundreds of worlds the unique paths and changes that occurred would insure no capability for cross-breeding.)

I am not saying that there will not be a few, very very few,  sick individuals who may try to breed with something alien. After all we have people who have sex with animals and corpses right now, but there will be no offspring.

Next up on the hit Parade is Michael Crichton  and The Andromeda Strain. It is the story of an alien disease that comes to Earth and threatens all of humanity. It’s a fun read and the original film is worth seeing. (I own it.) Still, as an example of that SF trope, the bad space bug, it is sill.

RULE TWO: We will NOT catch diseases from it.

Diseases are finely tuned parasitical organisms and molecules. (I add molecules because a Virus is very special and not really a living thing, More like a natural nano-machine.) To infect their host they need very careful conditions. They need the right pH balance, the right temperature, and the right receptors on the host. Malaria is a parasite that infects red blood cells, if the cells are not shaped just right, it has a very hard time infecting. Disease are matched to their hosts. There are thousands and thousands of viruses on this planet that can’t hurt a person at all. Go to an alien planet with an alien ecosystem and nothing will match up. It would be worse than diving into a foreign junkyard and grabbing parts at random and hoping that they would fit your american car.

The final thing on my list is something SF writers have ignore for decades. The truth of the matter is that biology is often the forgotten science of science-fiction. Oh there plenty of fiction about advances in biological sciences and what that might mean to us, but alien biology is mainly restricted to unusual animal and their traits. An alien ecosystem will be truly alien and it will not support terran life.

RULE THREE: We will NOT eat it.

Most people do not think about the process of eating and how it works. Food goes into your mouth, chomp chomp chomp, drops to your stomach, you get fed, and then the leftovers are ejected out the backside.

It’s not really like that.

In your stomach there are numerous acids and more importantly enzymes that make digestion possible. Think of the molecules of food as being locked boxes. You have to unlock the box before you can open it and get the sugary goodness inside.  Enzymes are the keys that unlock the boxes. If you do not have the right keys, you will never get that box open. This is why you cannot eat just anything. You do not have the keys to break down most plant matter and quite a bit of animal matter too. (Eating bones generally won’t help you.) That’s just life you evolved with too.

Alien life will have molecules that evolved along different lines. Their locks and your keys will not go together. It will not nourish you.

Most ‘hard SF’ skips right past this problem. People on alien worlds eat the fruit and animals just like they were exploring the North American continent. It won’t be like that at all.

This plays into Cawdor and now it will play into a new story that is forming in my mind set in the same universe.

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A chaotic life

Sorry for dearth of posting here over the weekend. Life intruded and there simply wasn’t the time to do my usual postings.

A lot of what happened was the little stuff that takes up time and energy from a person leaving little focus with.

Yesterday however I got the tragic news that my nephew Scotty has died suddenly in his sleep.

I did not know Scotty well. He was born after I left home for the West Coast and  I only met him a few times on my infrequent trips back east. I know my sister is devastated and she has my deepest sympathies.

We don’t know exactly what happened yet. Only that we went to sleep after his shift at work and died in his sleep.

We wish his family well and our deepest condolences.

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A problem with eReaders

This is not a big problem, but I suspect it could be an issue with any eReader I had purchased.

I can’t tell how close to the end of the book I am.

Last night I was reading 1633, the sequel to 1632. I stopped when I got home because I do other things than read at home. (Spend time with my Sweetie-wife, watch a little TV, and work on my own writing takes up most of my time.)

This morning I climbed aboard the trolley to go to work and continued reading 1633. Three more page turns and the book was over.

Had I known this last night I would have just finished the book then. Still, on the plus side for eReaders, I had more than 300 public domain titles with me so I just started The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.

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I’m falling in love with Cawdor

The world building on this novel has really captured my imagination. Tonight I did a quick sketch of the religion and it’s implications for the characters.

What started out as a re-interpretation of Macbeth has really grown and taken a life of its own.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, the heart of the story is still Murder, Mutiny, and Madness. The setting has become richer and the characters are really starting to form around the world-building, but it is still at heart a gender-bending Macbeth.

I am staying away from new version of Macbeth lest my vision become clouded.

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The world just keeps getting larger

The world I am referring  is the world of Cawdor.

I have continued working on the world-building for this novel and every time I turn around a new aspect just starts unfolding. Tonight I was working out the basic government structure of one faction and suddenly I found myself lost in the design of a legal system unlike ours. (Short description all court actions are civil actions and there a four possible pleas a defendant could enter.)

I also found the official names for my two major governments/faction in the novel. So I present to you…

The Celestial Renaissance Cooperative

and

The Unified Grand Compact.

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Not much to say

It’s been a busy and stressful day at my paying job and that has cascaded into a tired and not very motivated host here.

My sweetie-wife and I also looked at re-finacing the mortgage but decided against it. The goals of re-fi and our long term goal simply do not sync up.

The Station On The Edge got another rejection and I am thinking it is time to retire the story to the truck.  The most common feedback has been that the characters are too unlikable, but they were the characters who reported for duty when I wrote it. I have sat down to try re-writing it and never typed a word. I like the characters and the story as is. Perhaps I am the only one.

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No Sunday Night Movie

I was simply too exhausted to even watched a TV episode last night much less a full feature film. I will return to the Sunday Night Movie next weekend with either The Mist or We Were Soliders.

Sunday was a pretty good day overall. I saw a good movie — Zombieland — nearly won at Scrabble with my sweetie-wife and had a pleasant time hanging out with my pal.

Working is coming along on world-building for Cawdor. I’ve making tons of notes for a new human culture and new human religion. This will be the basis for one faction of the novel, the TANS. A lot of what I am putting together will not appear directly in the novel but it will inform how characters act and react to each other. The fun part will be presenting each culture truthfully with pluses and minuses. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decided which side is just and right in its war.

I do think life is messy and novels and arts shouldn’t be too cut and dried with good and bad guys.

(That was the biggest weakness in Eric Flint’s 1632 novel.)

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Literary Saboteur

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