Crashland – Chapter 15, Now Appearing At Story Time!

by F4U DraconiX

Hello all! After another brief hiatus, thing at Story Time are on the move once again! My apologies for anyone who actually follows Crashland, but due to multiple obligations, I find it takes me longer to update this story these days. Nevertheless, chapter 15 is now available and ready for your votes.

Last time, Holden was told that his best friend in the Exigencies cell was in a coma, and that the team’s doctor was dead. Team leader Kurzweil, who had never been a fan of Holden’s, said he was to blame and his time with them was coming to an end. After leaving Holden with this terrible news, he ordered Molya to make the call.

His choices were simple. Administer an overdose of hydromorphone and kill Holden, administer a sedative that would put him in a coma, or take him to a side tunnel and put a bullet in him. Faced with those choices, readers were asked to make a choice of their own. Would Molya a) disobey and help William escape, b) try to reason with Kurzweil, c) kill William or d) put him in a coma?

Audiences voted and the choice was clear: Molya would try to reason with Kurzweil for Holden’s life. Come on by and see what comes of that. Then stick around and vote on what happens next. It’s all happening over at Story Time.me

New Movie: Elysium!

Yet another cool aspect of the recent Comic Con was the trailers for new movies previews that fans were treated to. One such movie was Neil Blomkamp’s (director of District 9) new film, entitled Elysium. According to IO9 magazine, the movie stars Matt Damon in the lead role and is scheduled for release in 2013.

Based on the video reel Blomkamp offered, the movie is still very much in development. Rough place holders had to stand in for many of the visual effects, which are as of yet incomplete. However, the fans were given a precis of the storyline, which is decidedly dystopian and cyberpunk in nature.

Set in 2159, the plot revolves around the eponymously named space station of Elysium, an apparently utopian retreat where the ultra-rich and beautiful live and have access to the most advanced medical technology. The rest of humanity lives planet-side, where overcrowding, disease and radiation have resulted from overpopulation and pollution. Enter into this Max (Matt Damon), a criminal who’s suffering from radiation sickness and must make it to Elysium’s medical facilities at all costs.

In time, Max’s mission becomes complicated as he comes into information which could shut down Elysium and usher in an age of equality for the human race, or at least a less polarized division of wealth. Additional concept art was also released, like an interior shot of the station featured below. Given the layout, Elysium appears to be based on an Island Three design, a circular space station and rotates to provide gravity. Echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey there. Good for Blomkamp, referencing a classic!

Additional cast members will include Jodie Foster, District 9‘s Sharlto Copley, and Alice Braga (of City of God, Predators, Repo Men and I Am Legend fame). Think I might catch this one!

The Future is Here!: VR Contact Lenses

Not long ago, it was Google who introduced eye pieces that could project augmented reality into a person’s visual field. Known as Google Glasses, they sure seemed futuristic, didn’t they? And yet, it seems someone else has gone a step farther. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (aka. DARPA) own researchers, based in Washington’s Innovega iOptiks.

The concept calls for contact lenses that enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus. One of the obvious advantages of this is the ability to get around easily while interacting with virtual images. But in addition, they also will help a person focus on both near and distant objects.

Developed as part of DARPA’s “Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras” (SCENICC) program, the objective was to create a device that could enhance a soldier’s vision, allow them to access information, while still being highly ergonomic and portable. But of course, the line between military and civilian applications is always a fine one, with inventions trickling down to the street all the time. Very soon, these could be making their way onto the shelves of the Apple store. I can see it now… the new eyePhone!

No word yet as to how these things are powered, like if they have some kind of battery. Where would that go? Are these things solar powered? Unclear at this time. Regardless, as someone who is near-sighted, a big fan of cyberpunk, and damn eager to try out some augmented reality, I’ll be looking to get me some as soon as they’re available!

Happy Canada Day!

Hello and welcome to my Canada Day post! As it is the True North’s national birthday – commemorating the day when the original provinces came together and agreed on Confederation, the first act of national building and quasi-declaration of independence – I thought it fitting that I do a post honoring Canada’s contribution to the field of science fiction. The list is extensive, contrary to what you might you think, and includes some of the most critically acclaimed examples of literature, film and television in this genre. But like most things Canadian, it suffers from a potential lack of recognition. Well, I, as a patriotic (but not nationalistic!) individual, shall do my part to promote. Hell, one day I want to be on this list, so I better make sure people know about it 😉

First up, movies that were filmed, directed and produced right here in Canada, eh!

Scanners (1981):
This film, directed by David Cronenberg, is considered a cult classic amongst fans of sci-fi and horror alike. In this movie, “Scanners” are people that exhibit powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities who are being sought out by a corporation named ConSec, a purveyor of weapons and security systems. Ostensibly, their purpose is to register scanners so the public can be protected from them, but it is clear that they have a nefarious agenda as well.

The story revolves around two rogue scanners, the dangerous Darryl Revok (played by Michael Ironside) and the reclusive Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack). After a “demonstration” goes terrible wrong where Revok causes Dr. Ruth – head of ConSec’s scanner section – to explode, ConSec becomes dedicated to finding all rogue scanners and stamping them out. On their radar is Revok, a known and powerful scanner who is a homeless transient, moving from place to place in the hopes of staying ahead of corporate spies.

In the end, Vale finds himself trapped between Revok’s renegade faction on the one side and ConSec’s goons on the other. In the end, he is captured by Revok and learns that they are brothers, that Ruth is their father, and that all scanners are the result of drug trials involving pregnant women and ephemerol. This drug, which was designed to combat morning sickness (echoes of thalidomide), is the same one which they now use to control scanners.

Revok’s plan is to now use a captured shipment of the drug and administer it to countless pregnant women worldwide, thus creating an army of scanners. When he learns of this, Vale and Revok begin to fight each other using their powers. In the end, Vale defeats his brother and then assumes his likeness, thus putting him in charge of the rogue scanners. The story thusly ends on a cliffhanger note, with Vale’s intentions open to speculation.

This movie was not only a cult classic, but very heavily inspired. It’s investigation of psychic abilities, with corporate controllers, rogue telepaths, and drugs used to control them, would all show up in later franchises, particularly Babylon 5. In addition, that head exploding scene is considered an iconic imagine, one which has been referenced many times over on the silver screen. Consider the line from Wayne’s World where Garth appears to be having a nervous breakdown on TV and one of their cronies asks: “Did you see that movie Scanners where the dude’s head exploded?”

Johnny Mnemonic (1995):
Though it was widely considered one of the worst adaptations in science fiction history, Johnny Mnemonic was nevertheless a faithful representation of William Gibson’s original work (also a Canadian). Set in the “Sprawl” of the 21st century, the story is about a mnemonic courier who uses wetwire implants (i.e. cybernetic brain implants) to carry information around illegally. This is apparently a common practice in the world of the future, where corporate control is absolute and the most precious commodity is information.

Enter into this Johnny (Reaves), a courier who is given a job to carry a package that is twice the size of his capacity. He takes it, knowing the risk it will pose to his brain, because he’s looking for that final payoff which will allow him to have his implants removed and his memory restored. This is something all mnemonic carriers must go through, which is the sacrifice of their own memories in order to make room for all the pirated data they carry.

Quickly, Johnny realizes the package he contains is incredibly valuable, as Yakuza close in and murder his contacts. His own boss betrays him as well, forcing him to turn to a freelance ninja named “Sally Shears” (aka. Molly Millions) for help. Like him, she has enhancements which are beginning to mess with her body, and she recommends they get help from her friend Spider. As a doctor, he is used to dealing with nervous system illnesses, particularly NAS (nervous attenuation syndrome).

When they arrive, Johnny is informed that he is the one who hired him, and that the information he carries comes directly from the pharmaceutical giant Pharma-Kom’s labs. It is nothing less than the cure of NAS, and the company will kill to make sure it doesn’t get it out, seeing as how they make billions off of treatment and will lose out if it is cured. The race is then on for Johnny to download the cure onto the open Net, and with the help of a group of counter-culture fighters named Lo-Tek, they manage to do just that.

Though the movie was generally panned by critics and did quite poorly at the box office, it remains a cult classic to many because of its gritty, cyberpunk feel and faithful adaptation of Gibson’s characteristic themes. It also boasted an all-star cast, which included Keannu Reaves (Canuck!), Dolph Lundgren, Takeshi Kitano, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Dina Meyer, and Udo Kier. On top of that, it also made use of pioneering special effects to give visual representation to Gibson’s concept of “cyberspace”, the movie also contained all the elements he so loves to include in his stories. Freelancers, Yakuza, mega-corporations, mercenaries, cybernetic enhancements, dirty environments, urban sprawl, hackers and techy geeks. This movie had all that, and is required viewing for fans of Neuromancer and Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy.

Screamers (1995):
Here’s a cult classic I keep coming back to of late! Based on Philip K. Dick’s “Second Variety”, Screamers is another adaptation of classic sci-fi which was filmed, directed and financed here in the Great White North. And I mean that literally since most of the filming took place in a quarry in Quebec during the dead of winter. And though the story was updated for the post-Cold War world, set on a distant planet and being a war between corporate interests and quasi-national forces, the basic elements remained much the same.

Taking place in 2078 on a planet known as Sirius 6b, the story revolves around an ongoing war between two factions who are fighting for control of the planet. On the one side is the NEB (New Economic Bloc), a super-corporate entity that controls mining in outer space. On the other is the Alliance, a resistance formed out of the former miners and scientists from the colony.

After the NEB bombarded the planet with nukes, turning it into a radioactive wasteland that is perennially experiencing nuclear winter, the Alliance resorted to creating devices known as the “Autonomous Mobile Sword”, a race of self-replicating machines built by a self-sustaining underground factory. These weapons, which tunnel underground and use high-pitched sonic blasts to paralyze opponents, carry the nickname of “Screamers”.

The story opens when a NEB representative comes to the Alliance bunker offering a ceasefire. After investigating the situation, the Alliance commander JOe Hendricksson (played by Peter Weller, aka. Robocop) realizes that the war still rages back home and no one cares what happens to them anymore. He decides to take the NEB up on their offer to end the fight on Sirius 6b, but during his trip to the NEB bunker, learns that new breeds of Screamers are out there. After meeting with Jessica (Jennifer Rubin), the NEB mercenary commander, they attempt to investigate the Screamer factory and learn that there are in fact four varieties now, each of which is becoming more human!

They make it back to the Alliance bunker, only to see that it too has been overrun. In the end, only Hendrickson and Jessica survive and begin making their way to the emergency escape shuttle hidden in the nearby mountains. Once there, Hendrickson learns that Jessica herself is a Screamer when an identical model of her appears and attacks them. Apparently, she is the fifth variety and the most advanced model to date, one that bleed, cry, imitate human emotions, and even have sex. Jessica sacrifices herself to protect him, and Hendrickson learns that her mission was to find the escape shuttle and go back to Earth where they could be sterilizing it of all life as well.

This was in keeping with the Screamer new mandate which was to destroy all human life, not just their enemies. However, that ended when Jessica became over-sympathetic to Hendrickson and broke with her original programming, thus demonstrating the most human characteristic of all, that of empathy. Hendrickson then takes the shuttle himself and leaves the planet, bound for Earth, and safe in the knowledge that the Screamers will never get off Sirius 6b.

Thought it differed in many ways from the original PKD short story, the thematic nature of the movie was accurate. You have the idea of the Screamers, the automonous, self-replicating and intelligent machines that are left to their own devices and end up turning on their own masters. You have the concept of runaway technology erasing the line between what is real and fake. Thought it ended on a happy note, unlike “Second Variety” where a machine made it off planet, the movie still managed to deliver on its message. And it was pretty damn scary too boot!

Cube (1997):
Here is another cult-classic that practically created its own sub-genre in science fiction film making. Directed by Vincenzo Natali and produced by the Canadian Film Centre as its first First Feature Project, Cube became an instant hit due to its paranoid, Kafkaesque feel and psychological thriller tone. Set inside a giant (you guessed it) Cube, made up of countless adjoining rooms that are numbered and contain different booby traps, the story revolves around a series of strangers who wake up inside and must find their way out.

What is immediately apparent to all the characters in the story is that they all possess different abilities and share the same story. Each and every one of them was carrying on with their daily lives, only to wake up and find themselves inside a cube-shaped room. None of them know each other or can remember how they got here, but once they found each other, they agree to work together and find the way out.

Amongst the captives is Quentin (Maurice Dean Wint), a charismatic police officer who takes command, Leaven (Nicole deBoer) a young mathematics student, Holloway (Nicky Guadagni), a doctor and conspiracy theorist, and Worth (David Hewlett), a pessimistic man who refuses to talk about himself. Quentin believes they all have a role to play, Holloway believes they are part of a government experiment, Leaven develops a theory that the room’s numbered in prime are the safe ones, and Rennes follows but seems skeptical of their chances.

As they continue, they find that Quentin’s theory about the prime numbered-rooms is flawed. Tensions also begin to rise within the group because of Holloway’s paranoia, Quentin’s controlling behavior, and Worth’s reticence. The group then experiences a bit of a breakdown, during which time Worth finally reveals that he was one of the architects who helped design the Cube. He never knew what it was for or who even commissioned it, the specs merely passed his desk and he added his own insight. He believes that essentially, the Cube created itself, the result of human stupidity and complacency.

However, Leaven concludes from Worth’s description that the numbers might actually be Cartesian coordinates, and the group begins working its way to one of the outer edges. They also come across a mentally challenged boy named Kazan, who Quentin wants to leave behind by Leaven insists they bring. But in time, their efforts prove futile when another feature of the Cube is revealed, the fact that it periodically shifts its rooms around. Another breakdowns occurs as Quentin becomes paranoid and shows his dark side. After a confrontation with Holloway, he lets her fall to her death, thinking she was out to get him.

The group begins to truly fall apart as Quentin’s true nature is revealed. It seems he is a violent man with a penchant for young girls, the reason why his wife left him with their kids. He begins to run the group through bullying and fear. But a ray of hope emerges when Leaven concludes that the numbers are not primes or coordinates by powers of prime numbers. She cannot calculate them, but the mentally challenged boy Kazan – an apparent autistic savant – can. They continue on their way and Worth incapacitates Quentin, who has now gone completely insane.

Eventually, they find their way to the outer edge and prepare to leave, but Worth wonders if it’s worth it considering that there is nothing out there but “boundless human stupidity”. They are about to step out when Quentin sets upon them. Leaven jumps in to help, and the three are pulled back in as the room’s once again shift. Kazan is left alone to walk out into the light of day, free of the Cube.

Where to begin? This story was a masterful piece of psychological thriller and paranoid fantasy! The fact that we never truly learn who built the Cube, what purpose the “test” really served, and the possibility that complacency and ineptitude is what built it not only makes for a mysterious story, but a big, fat existential allegory! For in the end, are we not all prisoners within a giant maze we can’t discern, who’s maker is unknown and who’s purpose in indistinct? Calling to mind Kafka, Sartre and the “Allegory of the Cave” – a la Socrates – these movie was not only a nail-biting thriller but a fittingly dark philosophical commentary.

Last Night (1998):
Filmed and set in Toronto by writer/actor/director Don McKellar, this apocalyptic sci-fi film tells the story of the last night on Earth, and shows various people choose to spend it. Though the date is not specified, and no explanation is given as to what calamity will be bringing the world to an end, it is made abundantly clear that it will be coming at the stroke of midnight, leaving everyone in the story only a few hours with which to live life to the fullest.

Naturally, the streets are filled with people who have decided to riot, loot and generally wreak havoc. But the main focus of the story is on the lives of various intersecting characters who have chosen to use their time more constructively. One is Patrick (played by McKellar himself), who lost his wife not long ago and is spending the time saying goodbye to family and friends, but who seems to want to spend the last of it alone.

His best friend Craig (Callum Keith Rennie) chooses to spend it in a non-stop sexual marathon as he attempts to fulfill every possible erotic desire he has, not to mention those of his partners. This includes having sex with his former French teacher, a black woman, a virgin, and just about any other scenario he can think of. When Patrick comes to say good-bye, he clumsily tries to encourage him to have sex with him as well. Patrick awkwardly declines, but Craig manages to get a sustained kiss out of him before he goes.

Meanwhile, Sandra (Sandra Oh), who has become stranded in the streets, meets up with Patrick and they get to talking. After realizing their time is short and they have only each other to spend their last hour with, they begin talking and sharing. Many times over, she insists that Patrick open up, saying “make me love you”. They agree to a suicide pact on the roof, listening to “Guantanamera” and drinking wine. In the end, they cannot shoot each other and end their time on the Earth with a heartfelt kiss.

The movie became an instant hit because of its personal nature and the realistic way in which it depicted the end of the world. By not specifying how the world was ending, McKellar kept the focus on the people themselves and how they chose to confront death, bringing out the very best and worst in themselves. While some chose to lose all control and commit murder, others chose to spend it with loves ones, or took a chance on forming new bonds with total strangers.

This last performance, between Sandra Oh and McKellar himself, was the most touching part of the film. We have two people who would never have known each other, both of whom experienced personal tragedy, and who came to experience one brief, shining moment of love – the most life affirming thing of all – before all life ended forever. So sad, yet so poignant. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

eXistenZ (1999):
From the same mind that brought you Scanners (David Cronenberg) comes this twisted psychological thriller about reality and the way technology affects our perception of the world around us. Featuring an all star cast that included Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sarah Polley, Don McKellar and Willem Dafoe, this movie received multiple awards and was well received by critics, though its box office gross was overshadowed somewhat by the release of the Matrix that same year.

Set in the not too distant future where organic game consoles known as “game pods” are all the rage, the story revolves around two game companies – Antenna Research and Cortical Systematics – who are competing to create the best in bioware. At the same time, a group of “realists” – people who are opposed to the technology because it “deforms reality” – are engaged in a guerrilla-style fight with both companies.

Enter into this Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the greatest game designer in the world who works for Antenna and is testing her latest virtual reality game, eXistenZ. During a seminar, she is shot in the shoulder by a realist using an “organic gun” – a device which can pass through security checkpoints – and the console appears to be damaged. As a result, she must plug in and test it with a trusted person and asks Pikul (Jude Law), the security guard to join her.

As they enter the game, reality becomes increasingly distorted as the two undergo behaviors which seem odd to them but are “consistent with their characters.” At the same time, they are stalked by characters that appear to be Realist fighters who are trying to sabotage them. Geller eventually realizes that they have been double-crossed by the people who installed Pikul’s bioport, the interface which is inserted into a gamer’s lower back, in order to infect and destroy her game. On top of that, Cortical Systems personnel are also inside, looking to copy the game for their own purposes. Pikul then reveals that he is in fact a Realist agent who was sent to kill her. She answers by saying she knew for some time and detonating his bioport.

However, in a finay twist, the two then appear on a stage with the other main players from the game and realize they were all part of a virtual reality game called “tranCendenZ”. This game was being played by the cast,  mirroring the first scene, but with electronic devices rather than game pods. The real game designer, Nourish (played by McKellar), feels uneasy because the game started with the assassination of a game designer and had an overall anti-game theme that he suspects originated from the thoughts of one of the testers.

Pikul and Allegra approach him and ask him if he should pay for his “crimes” of deforming reality. As Merle (Sarah Polley), Nourish’s assistant, calls for security, Pikul and Allegra grab hidden pistols  and shoot Nourish and Merle to death. As with the other game, the other players appear more frozen than shocked, suggesting that they are still inside. Pikul and Allegra point their guns at another player, who is at first dismayed, but then asks if they are still in the game. Pikul and Allegra don’t know, and the last scene ends with the fear written on their faces.

Much like the Matrix and Inception, this movie was characterized by it’s mind-bending sequences and unpredictable twists, showing how one’s perception of reality can be distorted thanks to the effects of mind-bending technology. But whereas other films chose to delve into the relative aspects of it all or sought to make an existential point about mind control, Cronenberg’s aim was clearly in showing the dangers of such reality-based technologies by equating them with drugs. All throughout the film, the psychoactive nature of the game is played up, showing how the ability to distort reality and tamper with one’s own psyche can be an addictive form of entertainment. The dangers in this are obvious of course, in that one’s ability to tell reality from fantasy will be worn down, leading to potentially fatal consequences.

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Well, that’s movies covered! It will take a few more days to cover the rest, respectively television and literature. These are even more fertile ground than films, so expect some detailed and lengthy posts. I will try to be brief as possible, but this is a tribute to my country of origin so don’t expect any topical treatments. No, sir! In the meantime, Happy Canada Day to all Canucks at home and abroad. Hope you are with the one’s you love and are having a good time. And to you Canada, happy 145th birthday! Cheers!

Crashland – Chapter 13!

After about a week and a half on hiatus, I’ve finally returned to Story Time to pick up my serial novel of Crashland. Last time, things ended on a cliffhanger as the tube station Holden and his compatriots were hiding out in began to collapse. Still recovering from his injuries, Holden was forced to find his way down a dark tunnel while the others carried the cybernetic Simon out on a stretcher.

Unfortunately, Holden fell behind and got lost in the dark. His only hope was to either retreat back the way he came, try to navigate based on the glow tubes strewn about the tunnel, or just sit and wait for the trouble to pass. And of course, audiences voted and the choice was clear! Holden would try to navigate his way out the only way he could.

And now, chapter 13 is ready! Come on by and see what happens, then stick around to vote on the next chapter. I have to say that it is one of the most consequential chapters I’ve written yet! Yes, the ending is not only a cliffhanger, but a matter of life and death. When it’s done, one of the story’s characters will be killed off. Tune in to decide which one!

Crashland – Chapter 12 Now Appearing at Story Time!

The votes are in and chapter 12 of Crashland is now available at Story Time. Last time around, the protagonist William Holden was being introduced to the final member of the crew. This, he discovered, was a cybernetic being known as Simon, a breed of human being designed to monitor cyberspace at all times. He also deduced what Jacobs plan was… unfortunately he didn’t tell the rest of us what it was. Yeah, I know, but I aint telling neither!

In any case, their discussion was interrupted when one of Jacobs men came to announce that they had a problem. When he learned what it was, he conveyed to Holden that they did indeed have a problem! The only question was, what was the nature of it? I asked audiences to decide. Was it: a. a rival gang attacking their hideout, b. an unruly mob that was threatening their friends who are camped out near the entrance, or c. the tube collapsing?

Well, the votes are in and audiences have once again decided. It’s C! The tube is collapsing, and now Holden, Jacobs, and his little band of agents will have to evacuate quickly! Come and by and see what happens, then stick around to vote on the next chapter! It’s all happening over at Story Time.

Crashland – Chapter 11, Now Appearing at Story Time!

Alright! After days and days of sinking my teeth into utopian lit, I’ve finally managed to get back to my dystopian ways! Which means that Chapter 11 of Crashlands is now available over at Story Time. And as promised, things are getting tense!

Last time, Holden was introduced to the being known as “Simon”. As usual it was up to the voting audience to determine what Simon was. Was he a cyborg that could interface with any machine on the planet? Was he a Nexus, a special type of Cyborg that authorities use to monitor the infobahn? Or was he a cyber terrorist that they had captured and turned to their cause?

Well, after some deliberation and a plea from the author, audiences got their votes in, a tie was broken, and Simon was declared a Nexus! Now, in chapter 11, we get to learn more about him, what his purpose is in their mission, and how Holden is expected to help him out. He also learns, now and for the first time, exactly where they will be heading to.

And so the question is once again posed to you, the voting audience: what happens next? Come on over and see what happens in this chapter, then stick around to decide on the next outcome. It’s in your hands people, whatever you say goes!

The Future Is Here: Google Glasses!

It’s like something out of a cyberpunk wet dream. Long the subject of speculative science fiction, it seems that we now have a working prototype for a set of goggles that can handle our wireless and networking needs. Merging the concepts of Augmented Reality with a Head-Mounted Display (HMD), Google has created what are now known as the “Google Glasses”.

Also known as “Project Glass”, this device is the first working model for what is often referred to as mobile computing. While still being tested, the project has been unveiled and Google Inc announced that they will now be conducting public trials to test their portability and ergonomics.

But of course, some of the terminology needs a little explanation. For example, augmented reality. By definition, this is the live direct, or indirect, view of the real world with computer generated imagery laid over top. One can be walking down the street or otherwise interacting with their world, but will also be able to view a desktop browser, a web page, or streaming video laid just overtop.

According to Google, the glasses will function much like an iPhone with the Siri application, in that wearers will be able to get onto the internet using voice commands. If this goes through, Apple Inc. will have its work cut out for it if they want to remain top dog in the technology race. I wonder what Steve Jobs would have made of this, may he rest in peace!

The project is just one of several being worked on by Google X Lab’s team of crack engineers, which includes Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer who has also worked on putting displays into contact lenses; Steve Lee, a project manager and “geolocation specialist”; and Sebastian Thrun, who developed Udacity education program as well as working on their self-driving car project.

Naturally, this news is causing a great deal of excitement, but I can’t help but wonder if certain people – not the least of which is William Gibson – aren’t getting just a tinge of self-satisfaction as well? You see, it was this Vancouver-based, American born purveyor of cyberpunk that predicted both the use of “cyberspace goggles” and augmented reality many years ago. The former were featured extensively in his Sprawl Trilogy and a similar device, known as Virtual Light glasses, made several appearances in his subsequent Bridge Trilogy.

What’s more, his latest books (known as the Bigend Trilogy) also made extensive mention of Augmented Reality before most people had heard of it. Beginning with Spook Country (2007), the second book in the series, he described an artist who used wireless signals and VR goggles to simulate the appearance of dead celebrities all over LA. This new type of touristic art, known as “locative art” was the first time AR was mentioned in a pop culture context. In his third book of the series, Zero History (2010), he mentions the technology yet again but says how it has been renamed “Augmented Reality” now that its more popular. As always, Gibson was on the cutting edge, or just ahead of the curve.

Click on the links below for a little “light reading” on the announcement:

https://plus.google.com/
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/

Crashland – Chapter 11, coming soon!

Why does this keep happening? Over at Crashland, we once again have a deadlock between options A and B. What is it with my readers? Are they really so of two minds or do people just like keeping the odds even? Or perhaps I just give really good options… No, it’s got to be the readers!

In any case, this tie must be broken if the story is to proceed. And I don’t need to tell those who’ve been keeping up with the story that things are about to get interesting.

Last time, Holden finally met the mysterious “other” Jacobs had been alluded to. This other, as it turns out, was a frail, sickly looking post-human named Simon. Enhanced with all kinds of cybernetic gear and kept alive with battery packs and nutritional hookups, the question remained: what exactly is Simon?

Well, the options are all ready. Option A said that he’s a cybernetic being who can interface with any machine. Option B claimed he was a Nexus, a specialized form of cyborg that is used to monitor regional networks. Option C, which no has been choosing, had it that he was a specialized weapon designed for cyberterrorism that they had picked up and turned to their agenda.

A and B remain neck in neck. Help break the deadlock by coming on over to Story Time and voting on your favorite outcome. And, well, you know the rest!

Crashland – Chapter 10, Now Appearing at Story Time!

Well, it’s about that time again. Audiences have once again voted, indicated what they want to see happen, and the story goes on. But before I get into what chapter 10 of Crashland is going to be like, I want to thank all the people who take time out of their busy day schedules to come on by and read my work. You are the life blood of the serial novel industry, so take a bow!

To recap, chapter 9 ended with Holden once again facing a choice. The mysterious man Jacobs who saved him has now explained exactly who he and his friends are and what they do. Exigencies, they are called, a global anti-terrorism task force that specializes in dealing with clean-ups. When the worst happens, they get called in to put it right. Infopocalypse is just one of many scenarios they are trained to deal with.

With a series of safehouses across the world, and armories stacked with analogue and virus-proof weapons, they are about to set out and reign in the people responsible for the Crash. They have asked for Holden’s help, but only if he’s prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice: not only must he be prepared to die, he must be prepared to kill! With all that in mind, the only question for Holden was yes, no, or some possible third option.

Well, audiences decided they wanted Holden to come up with a third option. Somewhere between saving the world and taking out anyone who got in his way, the majority of voters seemed to think that some kind of provisions needed to be met first. And so the next chapter opens with a little negotiation, followed by an introduction that has been coming for some time. Yes, in the last chapter, there was a mysterious new character alluded to, someone without whom Jacobs and his men would never be able to rebuild society. This mysterious “other” is about to be introduced…

So come on by to Story Time, have a look at chapter 10, and once again stick around to vote on what happens next! Things are coming together, and it’s all thanks to you fine folks. Give yourselves a hand, man! If you were closer, I’d say let’s finish this chapter and hit the bar. Author buys first round!