What’s Up Wednesday? Off to Fan Expo!

August 27, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Still enjoying Discworld “Lords and Ladies,” Fred Pohl’s “Annals of the Heechee”, and Escape Pod and PodCastle stories. Hmm, am I reading myself into a rut? 😉

What I’m writing:

Well, I’ve finished going through the feedback on ‘Gotta Have That Look,’ and I’ve got lots of ideas for revisions, but they may have to wait a while. Not sure I’ll get much writing done this weekend. 😉

What inspires me right now:

ALS Ice bucket challenge videos, for some reason. I just dig the idea of it as this giant meme spreading around the world, creating viral videos wherever it goes. And listening to podcast stories.

What else I’ve been up to:

Picked up the refurb laptop, spent some time with it over the weekend, and then returned it because the DVD read/write drive didn’t read and didn’t write. 😦

Getting geared up for Fan Expo! I’ll be leaving for Toronto tomorrow afternoon, and a little blue carry-on suitcase is already packed and waiting for me at the office.

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

What’s Up Wednesday? Lazy Summer Days?

August 13, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

I’ve been listening to some great podcast stories from ‘Escape Pod’ and got “Luck of the Draw” (the Xanth book) from the library on the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot. I also got “Warm Bodies” from the library, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read it through. I’ve skimmed through a lot of it comparing with my memories of the movie. The library also has a downloadable audio version of “Warm Bodies”, and I may give that a try.

And I read a few Analog stories on my Nexus, both via the library Zinio archives, and my own Kindle issues. Today I started the last arc of Angel and Faith, season 9.

What I’m writing:

Well, I started a story for the Xeroxxing Xylophone idea, having fun with it so far! I know I need to get started with revision stuff, but–well, see above under lazy. 😉

What inspires me right now:

Actually figuring out a secret identity long before it gets revealed in the book I’m reading, hehe.

What else I’ve been up to:

Hanging out with my mom a little, cooking and catching up to the last levels update in ‘Angry Birds Epic.’ Pimping the Nexus tablet out with VPN setup and Remote Desktop apps, so that if a work emergency comes up while I’m in Toronto for Fan Expo, I can use the Nexus to solve the problem. The hero travels light, whoohoo. 🙂

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

What’s Up Wednesday? Lecture crazness…

July 23, 2014

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

TreeWhat I’m reading:

Umm… a Buffyverse graphic novel, Elizabeth Moon’s “Command Decision”, an Escape Pod podcast, and some more Analog stories via the library and Zinio on my tablet.

What I’m writing:

Reached 10k for July Camp Nanowrimo, didn’t quite finish the  Brain transplant story. Haven’t written in a few days, because I’m busy with other stuff… Maybe I’ll finish the story while I’m at the workshop.

What inspires me right now:

Character growth and transformation! I’m finally digging into this lecture I need to have ready for TNEO, two days before I leave, and it’s great stuff, even if I’m a little frazzled.

What else I’ve been up to:

Catching up on some Vampire Diaries and Revenge. I’ve got a replacement credit card already, and the scam charges will probably get straightened out in due time. And I’ve been getting ready to leave for New Hampshire, though I still have packing to do…

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

N is for Neural Rewiring

April 16, 2014

For the A to Z challenge this year, I’m sharing science fiction and fantasy story ideas…

This is a notion that I got in reply to a story I read via Escape Pod, “Loss with Chalk Diagrams” by E Lily Yu. That story brought in the idea of ‘neural rewiring’ to take away grief and the sense of loss after someone has died, but I started to wonder about using the same novum for someone to add new skills to help reach his goal.

Here’s how I see it: my protagonist is a young man, a stunt pilot with many strengths. He’s a  good flight leader, able to plan ‘routines‘ as beautiful as anybody in the field, (flight choreographer?) and has a good sense of spacial awareness when flying. But his reflexes aren’t good enough to fly his most incredible routines himself. He finds out about the rewiring techniques that could ‘fix‘ him (make him good enough) through his med student fiancee, his biggest booster, and she helps him apply for a clinical trial.

there aren’t any openings in the trial, he tries every connection he knows, eventually finds out the big secret of some woman who was in the trial and secretly blackmails her to get in.

The process works great on his flying, but changes his relationship with the fiancee, he still loves her but can’t show her how he feels in the same way or make her happy. Talks to the doctor about this, and finds out that he can still reverse the procedure, but not have both the reflexes and the things he took for granted that made their relationship work. And he has to decide right away, before the new neural pathways get reinforced.

So he leaves the girl with a note, and heads off to wow the crowd at the big show

This time, since I’m excited about writing this version, please don’t write it exactly as I laid it out above, but there are lots of possible variants on the idea. If you’re interested enough to pick this up and write your own version, feel free; ideas are cheap. And let me know!

Thanks for visiting!

More Complex

February 21, 2014

I’ve been thinking about a passage from a story all week.

The story was “Immersion”, by Aliette de Bodard, and I read it via the Escape Pod-cast, last weekend; mostly while walking out in the snow on Sunday morning. It’s a great tale about technology and culture, but the passage is this:

“[It was] conceived by a Galactic mind… every logical connection within it exudes a mindset that might as well be alien to these girls. It takes a Galactic to believe that you can take a whole culture and reduce it to algorithms; that language and customs can be boiled to just a simple set of rules. For these girls, things are so much more complex than this… they’ll never ever think like that.”

Maybe I’ve got the Galactic mindset already, because what I immediately thought after listening to that passage was “Does it make sense to talk about ANYTHING being ‘more complex’ than algorithms?” I’m not talking about particular algorithms here, but about the concept of ‘algorithms’ in the abstract.

If you’re not familiar with the term, an ‘algorithm’ is a defined set of rules for solving a problem, suitable for a computer to follow. (Though you don’t have to be a computer to use them; most recipes for baking or cooking are algorithms, for instance, as well as driving directions or other instructions to give to people.) In the field of software and computing, an algorithm is generally distinct from the specific program written in a particular programming language which implements it.

And not all algorithms are simple, by any means. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are algorithms used by Google, for instance, so complicated that no one person understands all the details of them, only the broad outline and their particular specialty component. Algorithms can, in theory, solve a lot of problems if they’re provided with the right information. There’s a field within computer science about unsolvable problems, or problems that we suspect can’t be solved without taking too much time to be practical beyond simple cases, but even then, you can get a long way with the right algorithm if you let go of the idea of the ‘perfect’ solution and are satisfied with something in the right ballpark.

And when it comes down to it, I don’t really think we, as people, have special powers in our minds that computers could never match or compare to. The human brain is a wonderful thing, yes, and we haven’t written algorithms that can math a lot of what we can accomplish. But that’s just because we’ve been working for thousands of years at culture, language, and customs, and only a few hundred years at writing algorithms.

I can’t wait to see what we come up with next. Though if we succeed in making computer programs that can write their own software and fiction, I may be out of work for a while. 😉

Are you (walking/driving) comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

January 28, 2014

Okay, I’ve dived into my new Escape Artist podcasts, and don’t think I’ll be backing out, though it’ll probably (hopefully?) take me a long time to catch up on the incredible backlog of stories there. I started listening to them when braving the elements yesterday to get some exercise and fresh air on a day when the weather was lousy enough that I worked from home instead of driving into the office. And the stories were good enough to make me forget about the treacherous sidewalks I was picking my way over and lose myself to a faraway seashore with a boy genius and a great city besieged by intangible aliens.

It was as that second podcast was starting, that I thought of the quote I paraphrased in the title. I never listened to “Listen with Mother” on the radio, or watched on the television. The most direct experience I have with it was when it was sampled on Doctor Who, or referenced by Flanders and Swann. But I love the idea of these fiction podcasts as storytelling for the new millenium. They have a different kind of feel from longer audiobooks, or podcasting shows that are centered around the hosts and the general topic.

This morning, I listened to the same podcast on the drive into work, and got a pleasant surprise at the end of it, as an Escape Artist editor came on to summarize some listener e-mail and/or reviews they got for an earlier story–by Brad Hafford! I met Brad this summer; he was our resident adviser for Odyssey, and though I knew he was a talented writer, I guess I’d never bothered to track down his publications. Now I know where to find at least one; it wasn’t on the Escape Pod iTunes feed, but the archives on the Escape Pod website seem to go all the way back to the beginning.

What’s the coolest unexpected surprise you’ve ever found in a podcast?

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