Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Brave New World, Connections, General Musings, Guns, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Science Fiction, tech, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, Guns & Money, Her Final Year, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, laser, Lawyers, National Interest, naval, predictions, promotion, railgun, Robert Farley, Science Fiction, technology, warship, writing
The biggest reason to build big ships may be the promise of electricity generation. The most interesting innovations in naval technology involve sensors, unmanned technology, lasers, and railguns, most of which are power intensive. Larger ships can generate more power, increasing not only their lethality (rail guns, sensors) but also their survivability (anti-missile lasers, defensive sensor technologies, close-defense systems).
Unmanned technology. Lasers. Railguns.
Tell me that ain’t living in a science fiction future.
Filed under: Flu, Pandemic, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, Wales, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, Darnell Sidwell, excerpt, fire-flu, flu, influenza, jim downey, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Llywelyn the Last, pandemic, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, travel, Wales, writing
Part of a scene from the chapter I posted an excerpt from a week or so ago. Context: at this site, when news of a pandemic flu has just broken, and governments are attempting to stop its spread with a variety of travel restrictions. If you’ve read Communion of Dreams you may find a connection here.
Darnell couldn’t help himself, he turned and looked at the monument as well. He knew that it was of modern origin, but it felt as though it were ancient, like the sacred standing stones found all over Wales. A dark grey granite, mottled across the surface. It wasn’t very wide, perhaps just a meter or so. It was four or five times as tall, with the upper portion like a smoothed-over pyramid.
“This is where hope died,” said a man’s voice beside him.
Darnell looked at the man. He was shorter than Darnell, about the same age. Wearing workman’s clothes, a simple flat-brimmed hat. “Then why come here? Why now?”
“I dunno,” said the man, shaking his head slightly. “I just felt … drawn here.”
Darnell nodded. “You’re local?”
“Yes, jus’ outside of town. Family farm.” The man looked at Darnell, seemed to make a decision. “Look, iff’n you need a place to stay … you know, for the time being … you can come an’ stay with my family.”
Darnell considered the man. “This isn’t where hope died. It still lives in you and all the decent people here.”
The man looked uncomfortable with this praise. “I dunno about that. But if you need a place …”
“I’ll be fine. But you – you and your family need to prepare. I know about these things – trust me on this. Hard times are coming, you may need to hunker down on your own for a while.”
The man shook his head. “No mister. If hard times are coming like you say, then we’ll all need each other that much more. You’re welcome to stay, if you don’t have someplace of your own to go to.”
Filed under: Humor, Society, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, Facebook, humor, jim downey, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writer's block, writing
A friend posted this little aphorism to my profile on Facebook:
Writer’s block: when your imaginary friends refuse to talk to you.
Hmm. Pithy, but not sure I agree.
For me, being blocked isn’t about the technical stuff – dialog, description, understanding motivations. That’s all pretty straight-forward.
Rather, it tends to happen when I am trying to see the whole arc, and how a particular scene will fit into the developing narrative. There’s always a balance between knowing that you want to get from point A to point B on the ‘map’ of your story, and then working on the scene-by-scene movement. It’s been described as being like driving at night: you may know your destination a 100 miles away, but your headlights only illuminate the quarter-mile of the road ahead at a time. Being blocked is like having your headlights fail.
Oh, and if you’re not at least following me or the Communion of Dreams page on Facebook … well, you should. I’m obviously brilliant and share a lot of interesting links and observations about the world there. Just think of what you’re missing! ;)
Filed under: Marketing, NPR, Promotion, Science Fiction | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, flash fiction, Flight MH370, free, Her Final Year, jim downey, NPR, promotion, Réunion, Science Fiction, short story
She stood there before the large table at one end of the closed hanger. The whole space was brilliantly illuminated by the lights high overhead, but additional work lights illuminated the piece of debris on the table from several additional angles, so that there were almost no shadows cast. The white paint had been abraded. There were smudges of something like algae here and there. Barnacles were clustered along joints, where they could get purchase either on the flaperon itself, or on other barnacles which had attached before them. There were even bits of seaweed, still drying.
“It looks fine to me. I mean, just what I would expect after more than a year in the ocean.”
“So, it’s from Flight MH370. What’s the problem? Why’d you call me in?”
The man handed her a clipboard containing a paper report. She took it, glanced at it. “I don’t read French. What’s it say?”
“Well, among other things, the barnacles are dead.”
“I guessed that from the smell.”
“Yeah, but what’s interesting is that the lab determined that the barnacles were more dead than they should be. I mean, they had been dead longer than expected.”
“Oh? Why? What killed them?”
He reached out, as if he were going to touch one with his gloved hand, then thought better of it. He continued to look at the encrustations. “Starved to death. Seems they couldn’t digest the plankton there off of Réunion.”
“Why not? That’s where the barnacles are from, aren’t they?”
“Yep. That’s exactly the type found there.” He turned to look at her again. “Just one problem: these barnacles can only digest left-handed proteins.”
She sighed, looked down at the clipboard out of habit, even though she knew she couldn’t read what was there. Then she looked back to the man. “Mirror lifeforms. Dammit.”
“And they promised — PROMISED — that this wouldn’t happen again! OK, I’ll alert the Council.”
Filed under: Architecture, Art, Augmented Reality, Connections, General Musings, movies, SCA, Science, Science Fiction, Society, Space, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: art, blogging, bookbinding, Chrissie Iles, Communion of Dreams, Double Negative, Doug Pray, Grinnell College, jim downey, John Bowsher, LACMA, Legacy Bookbindery, Levitated Mass, Louis Zirkle, Michael Heizer, Moon, movies, Paint the Moon, SCA, Science Fiction, space, St. Cybi's Well, Wikipedia, writing
I finally got around to seeing this the other day, and I have been thinking about it ever since:
* * *
I first heard of Michael Heizer in a sculpture class in college, sometime in the late 1970s. Well, that I remember. It’s entirely possible that I had seen some coverage of his work in the press before then. But my professor got me thinking about how sculpture defined space both by physical presence and absence, and I know that it was then that I became aware of Heizer’s work. I didn’t realize it at the time, but his basic concepts would manifest in my life in many ways, showing up in my interests in martial arts, book design, even writing.
* * *
His ideas are incredibly simple, when you pare it all down to just its physical nature, it’s really quite simple, and you see it again and again in his work. To achieve that degree of simplicity is like, almost the hardest thing in the world to do.
* * *
Not being there when your opponent strikes.
Drawing the eye to the empty space.
Allowing the reader to fill in the suggested, but missing, description.
Each of these engages and enlightens in ways that no amount of force, or color, or detail ever could.
* * *
Micheal Heizer makes you aware of space and your relationship to space and how you move through space,the role of the sky, the role of the land, beyond what you’re looking at. You have to rethink the nature of who you are physically in relation to what you are walking around inside and observing from a distance and up close.
* * *
We’re not always aware of what we do while we’re doing it, or why. Sometimes, the trajectory of a life is determined by little things, subtle things. Even things which are mssing.
* * *
I finally got around to seeing this the other day, and I have been thinking about it ever since:
Shortly after I had conceived of the idea behind Paint the Moon, I knew that it wasn’t actually feasible. But the idea delighted me. And after some thought, I realized why: it was taking the principles of Michael Heizer’s art — of paring down art to the very simplest, physical elements of experience — and going one step further. Remove the physical object altogether, and replace it with pure experience, pure concept. Hence my description of the project as a “collective lyric fantasy”.
You can’t see the artifact of that project at a museum. There is no massive boulder to walk under, or a negative space in the desert to encounter.
But there is the Moon overhead, and the memory of a moment in time.
Filed under: Connections, Constitution, Fireworks, General Musings, Government, Kindle, Science Fiction, Society | Tags: Amazon, America, blogging, Civil War, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, Fourth of July, free, freedom, history, Independence Day, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction
I wrote this nine years ago, and posted it to this blog seven years ago. It seemed like a good time to repost it.
Thoughts on This Day
One birthday, when I was nine or ten, I woke with anticipation of the presents I would receive. Still in my pajamas I rushed into the kitchen where my parents were having coffee, expecting to get the loot which was rightfully mine. My father happily handed over a small, wrapped box. I opened it eagerly, to find a little American flag on a wooden stick. My father said that since my birthday was July 4th, he thought I would appreciate the gift.
Horror-struck first at not getting anything better, then a moment later at my own greed, I guiltily told my parents that I thought it was a fine gift.
After a moment, of course, my folks brought out my real presents, and there was a fair amount of good-natured teasing and laughing about the little trick they had played on me.
That was almost 40 years ago, and I can no longer tell you what presents I received that day. But the lesson in expectations and perspective my dad taught me that morning always remained with me. My dad had been a Marine, fought in Korea, and was a deeply patriotic cop who was killed while on duty a couple of years after that birthday. I have no idea what happened to that little flag on a stick, but I do still have the flag taken from my father’s coffin, carefully and perfectly folded at the graveside when we buried him.
I’ve never looked at the American flag without remembering what a fine gift it really is and, as so many others have written, what it represents in terms of sacrifice. I love my country, as any Firecracker Baby is probably destined to do. You just can’t ignore all that early training of patriotism, fireworks, and presents all tied up together.
But that doesn’t mean that I am blinded by patriotism. As I’ve matured and gained life experience, I’ve learned many other lessons. Lessons about tempering expectations, living with occasional disappointment, accepting that things don’t always work out the way you plan no matter how hard you work, how good your intentions, or how deserving you are. Still, you learn, grow, and do the best you can. This, it seems, is also the story of America. I believe we are an exceptional people, holding great potential, with our best years still to come. But nothing is guaranteed. We must honestly, and sometimes painfully, confront our failures, learn from them, and move on. The original founders of our country were brilliant, but flawed as all humans are flawed. Some of their errors led directly to the Civil War, that great bloody second revolution of the human spirit. That they made mistakes does not negate their greatness; rather, it shows us our potential even though we are not perfect. They knew, as we should know, that only we are responsible for our self-determination. Not a king, not a God, not a ruling political class. Us.
Today we’ve been gifted with a small box with a flag inside. A token of our history. Let us not take it for granted. Let us not think that the thing itself is more important than what it represents. Let us look on it and declare our own responsibility, our own self-determination.
Happy Independence Day.