700th Post!

fireworks1Yes, I know its a bit of an odd number. But I was still pleased and kind of blown away to find out that I was nearing this landmark recently. And I thought, what better excuse for a little retrospective and a chance to say thanks for the support? My my, where to begin? Well, how about the beginning? Since just the other day I was looking back at the first posts I’d made with this site, I think I’ll start there. Seems as good a place as any…

The very first thing I ever wrote on this site was a simple Hello World message. Nothing too flamboyant or special about that one, just the obligatory “how do you do?” It was my second post where I said the things that I wanted to say and really took the time to state what my mission was:

sci_fi“I love science fiction, always have, always will.¬† But it‚Äôs the kind of science fiction that I love which I think is an important distinction. I‚Äôve always subscribed to the idea that sci-fi comes in two varieties: classic and commercial.¬† The classical kind is the traditional variety that people take seriously… Commercial sci-fi, by contrast, is your basic stuff that owes much to the original masters but really didn‚Äôt follow in their footsteps.”

That’s still true of me. I still subscribe to the idea that the real science fiction is the kind that really makes you think and chooses to appeal to the highest possible standard. Might sound elitist, but given the sheer amount of pulp out there that does little more than entertain, I’d say I’m more of a hopeful optimist. I think people are capable of great genius when you give them a chance, and would like nothing better than to create something myself that appeals to the best in us – be it intellectual, moral, or metaphysical.

My first few reviews were really quite simple. I spoke of Frank Herbert – arguably my biggest inspiration – William Gibson, 1984 and Brave New World. I spoke of my own writing and posted some podcasts of Source’s earliest chapters (no longer available), and pasted some reviews my work had received. However, I was nowhere near as prolific as I am today. It was actually quite surprising to see that the first year of my site being operational could be summed up in just over a dozen posts. Especially when I am now at 700 and just over two and a half years into it!

In any case, I began doing movie reviews shortly thereafter, tackling such sci-fi greats as Blade Runner and the Alien franchise, and such guilty pleasures like Independence Day and Starship Troopers. This went on for some time, with me going back and forth between reviewing movies and great books, and once in a while dropping something in about a favorite miniseries, TV show, or something I happened to find inspiring.

brazil53And then something happened. Something which, I gotta admit, I didn’t even know was possible until it happened to me. I got freshly pressed. At the time, I was minding my own business, doing a post about Dystopian Literature, in honor of the fact that I just joined Writer’s Worth and our first project was an anthology of original, dystopian narratives. Feeling inspired by the fact that I was getting a chance to write within my favorite genre, I compiled a list of the most historically relevant and renowned examples I could think of.

That opened the floodgates! Having never exceeded a few dozen views in one day, you can imagine my surprised when I came home for lunch that day and discovered my views numbered in the high hundreds! I checked back as the afternoon progressed, only to see that it had reached into the thousands. By afternoon the following day, the torrent stopped and I was able to take stock of all that had happened. Roughly half my subscribership began following me in that one twenty-four hour period. I got more comments than I knew what to do with and more likes in that one day than the previous year! It felt nice, and I certainly learned something about how this thing called WordPress works!

Since that time, I won’t lie, I’ve been hoping to snag a second FP! No luck yet, but what can you do? Once was nice enough, and since it’s led to my current circulation amongst my fellow bloggers and the general internet-surfing public, I really can’t complain! Besides, several milestones have happened since then, so I shall not linger on this one event. Suffice it to say, as the days and weeks continued to pass, I found my traffic had increased exponentially from my pre-FP days. Not to the point of thousands, but higher than a hundred. That too was nice…

After finishing up the series of Dystopian posts, mainly to address examples other people poitned out and to cover examples of dystopic movies, I began to move onto other ideas. For instance, I had decided it was time to tackle themed-posts, like Cool Guns, Cool Ships, Giant Robots, and the like. These were mighty fun to do and provided endless suggestions from people who knew and liked the same franchises I did, and also saw these lists as an opportunity to stroll down memory lane.

apocalypse-04I also got into serial novel work, as attested to by Crashlands over at Story Time, and posts dealing with futuristic concepts and news. I guess I’d grown a bit tired just talking concepts, books and movies at this point and really wanted to delve into the everday stuff that drives science fiction and the creative imagination that guides people’s writing. At the same time, I continued to pimp any and all work that I was doing with Writer’s Worth, which at this point had morphed into its current group name of Grim5Next, in honor of our first project!

Then came two significant developments, back to back. In June of 2012, I began working with a select group of members from Grim5Next on a new project idea. With the passing of Ray Bradbury and Venus’ transit in front of the sun, it seemed that some of us were bit by the inspiration bug. I can still remember how it all began, in the form of a conversation between my friend and fellow writer, Khaalidah, and myself:

Khaalidah: Four nerds verging on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdiest but fun conversations centered around the question ‚ÄúWould you rather go to space or the bottom of the ocean?‚ÄĚ Hands down the answer was space.
I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a distant childhood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unattainable and unrealistic. But, given the chance, I would go.
This post reminds me of the awesomeness of our great universe, of the chaotic randomness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grateful for, and of how utterly minuscule we people really are in the grand scheme of things

Me: Okay, you need to write this down. I foresee you doing a story where a family does go into space. Ho boy, I smell another anthology here!

Khaalidah: An anthology about space, going to space or anything related sounds awesome. I vote for you to be the editor. What do we need to do to get started?”

Yuva_coverThat was the beginning of Yuva. In the days that followed, we two enlisted the help of many people: Goran, Jenna, William, and Melanie. Through much conversation, back and forth and debate, we determined the location of our story (Gliese 581g), the tone, the structure, and even began producing the first few installments. As time progressed, we were joined by more writers – Charles, Danielle and Cara – who wanted to contribute and began scooping up the later installments in the series.

The second development was the rash of face-eating and zombie-like behavior which seemed to break out throughout that summer. Feeling compelled to comment on the sort of hysteria which had set in, I wrote a post called “Bath Salts and the Zombie Apocalypse”. Much like my post on Dystopia, that one earned me quite a few views, thought it was not Freshly Pressed. I am thankful it wasn’t, as I began to feel a bit iffy about getting lots of traffic over a series of rather sick and tragic events. But I knew I had to comment since it was a relevant issue and I had something to say about it. I also swore I’d never publicize the names of the psychos responsible ever again, since I didn’t want to contribute to the buzz that so often surrounds twisted criminals.

Since that times, its been more of the same. Every day, I do my best to maintain the pace I’ve now set for myself, and am happy when plenty of people come by to see what I’ve written and tell me they are thankful that I post what I do. Naturally, I often complain that I should be getting paid to do this, but that’s just talk. No, this is something I’d gladly do for free, though ideally I would love it if it was a source of income so I could write indefinitely and not have to worry about money. My hope is one day that all of this culminates and I can write something truly meaninful and influential. That way, this site will represent a beginning to something truly big, and I’ll be able to share that with everyone who’s been here from the beginning.

Okay, that got a little mushy there towards the end. Suffice it to say, I’m very thankful for all that I’ve been able to do with this site thus far, and for being able to connect with all the people that I have. I hope very much to be able to write as many or more posts before I use up my allotted memory and either have to pay for an upgrade or move to another web address. Hopefully, the whole “getting paid to do this” thing will work itself out before then so I have the option of throwing money at the problem ūüėČ

Rest assured, I aint going nowhere anytime soon. So expect to see plenty of me around these parts. Peace out, and thanks to everyone for stopping by, then and now. Bless you all!

fireworks

The Town of Sidney, a City-Wide Hotspot

A news in my local paper announced something quite interesting, something which made me think my writing actually be slightly relevant. It was one of those “I told you so” moments, you might say. Well, according to the Peninsula News Review, the town of Sidney (about fifteen minutes drive up the road from where I live) has become one gigantic hotspot. Yes, that basically means that wherever you go in town, you will have wireless access to the internet. And, here’s the cool part, it’s all free and has been for almost a year now.

How does this relate to my own writing, you might ask? Well, it just so happens that I’ve been experimenting with the idea of an entire mega cities that function on this same principle in the not-too-distant future. In fact, it’s kind of intrinsic to the whole Singularitarian, Demarchist concept, where human beings are augmented with cybernetic implants (usually silicate, in literature) that allow them to access the networks wirelessly and hands-free at any given time. That way, they can participate in government, conduct business, and access information all day long, from any locale remotely.

And it just so happens that this idea is the cornerstone of Crashland, my serial novel over at Story Time. Basically, the premise is that by networking the entire world – by bringing all business, industry, information, communications, government and foreign relations under one wireless roof – the world became extremely vulnerable should a rather enterprising hacker could get past it’s built-in firewalls. And of course, that’s what exactly what happened, hence the name of the story!

Funny thing though. In spite of the rather cool nature of this development, the town of Sidney still feels that the word just hasn’t gotten out there enough. Well, I’m doing my part to spread the word with my meager little blog here, when not plugging my own work that is! And hopefully all the signs they are planning on placing on the highway and by the ferry terminal will help too. How’s are these for promo ideas:

“Entering a City-Wide Hotspot”, “Entering Sidney’s Wi-Fi Zone”, “Free internet for the next 10 km”. What do you think?

Space Anthology!

My apologies to all those expecting a post about zombies or post-apocalyptic stories. You see, my group and I are busy designing an entire world for our new anthology and we needed some mock-ups to help speed our imaginations to their goal. That’s been my obsession these last few days, that and visiting family. But alas, I have no idea how to post a PDF file to a Shaw Photo Share account, so I came here to do it instead. Behold… Our new Colony Ship!

The overall design is built around the concepts of a generation ship and a sleeper-ship, with the habitation module and the cryo-stasis bays in the center with the engine and shuttle bays at the rear and the command module at the front. And of course, for the people in the center area, the concept of an O’Neil Cylinder comes into play – a ship that utilizes a rotating section to generate gravity. And I think a long spine connecting it all together, which requires a cart since the gravity is at its lowest in the center, would also be cool.

Oh, and I should mention that we’ve selected a location for our story and done some additional mapping to give the setting a truly realistic feel. As already noted, the star system in question is Gliese 581, and the planet is 581 g, a real exoplanet that scientists believe could host life. And here is what it looks like, for our purposes anyway:

It’s called Yuva, a Turkish word which translates to “Home”. All the continents are named in honor of the scientists who helped discover Gliese 581’s planetary system. The rest, well, that’s all us baby! The polar continent, named New Gondwana, is named after the super-continent of Earth’s Precambrian period. And the vast stretches of sea are just tentative names that I thought seemed appropriate, given their position between the major landmasses. Note the color, which denotes levels of fertility, green being lush, grey being glacial, and yellow and light green being desert of savanna land.

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.

Another G5N Anthology in the works!

Don’t you just love it when things come together, and by things I mean talented people and a good concept? Well that seems to be happening once again. A few months back, I joined Writer’s Worth over at Goodreads, a writer’s group dedicated to promoting new talent and aspiring authors. We have since morphed into Grim5Next, an online community with its own site and members all over the world. Our first anthology, World’s Undone, is coming together nicely and should be finished in a few months.

But more recently, a couple of Grim5Next people got together and decided we wanted to get to work on another anthology. Maybe we’re all a little driven, but somehow, we just couldn’t wait for the first to be released. And with the departure of the master-singer of sci-fi, Ray Bradbury, and the news of the Venus transit, we felt ourselves inspired. In fact, it all began with a single conversation between Mrs. Khaalidah Muhammed-Ali and myself:

Khaal¬≠i¬≠dah: Four nerds verg¬≠ing on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdi¬≠est but fun con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠tions cen¬≠tered around the ques¬≠tion ‚ÄúWould you rather go to space or the bot¬≠tom of the ocean?‚ÄĚ Hands down the answer was space. I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a dis¬≠tant child¬≠hood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unat¬≠tain¬≠able and unre¬≠al¬≠is¬≠tic. But, given the chance, I would go. This post reminds me of the awe¬≠some¬≠ness of our great uni¬≠verse, of the chaotic ran¬≠dom¬≠ness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grate¬≠ful for, and of how utterly minus¬≠cule we peo¬≠ple really are in the grand scheme of things.

Me: Okay, you need to write this down. I fore­see you doing a story where a fam­ily does go into space. Ho boy, I smell another anthology here!

Khaalidah: An anthol­ogy about space, going to space or any­thing related sounds awe­some. I vote for you to be the edi­tor. What do we need to do to get started?

That’s how it all got started. After some initial brainstorming, we plotted out what we wanted this all to be about. Space and Colonization! In the near future, such endeavors might just become a reality. In fact, they might have to be if we want to survive as a species. And inspired by the dearly departed Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, I thought we ought to tackle some of the same issues he did, taking into account some more recent historical developments. Like Bradbury’s chronicles, it will be a series of interlinked stories, but told from different points of view in different time frames.

After some astrological research, your humble editor selected a location. 61 Cygni, the star system that sits roughly 11 and a half light years away from Earth. Though there’s no hard evidence to support the theory, it has been ventured that there may be a system of planets in the system, including three small objects, two gas giants, and one mega-planet. At right, you will see the little map I prepared for our, and your, viewing pleasure.

And in time, we picked up some more dedicated souls, William J Joel and Goran Zidar, who you may remember from Story Time fame (he’s the inventor). Already, these two have signed up for slots in the opening part of the anthology. Divided into four stories, Part I will tell the tale of how colonization is getting underway here at Earth in the not too distant future. And before it ends, it will address the issues of converting the new world over to human needs, and how the local flora and fauna are not too happy about it!

And of course, I got a few more people who’ve volunteered to help just as soon as they have the time. Courtney, Jinn and Doremy, I’m looking in your direction. You’re initiative is most appreciated and there’s still plenty of stories to be written and slots to be filled. And of course, Parts II and III are still in development, and slots remain open for more writers. Though it’s still in development, I know it’s going to be inspired, thanks to the people we got working on it. I also know we are going to have fun doing it.

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!