Gernsback’s Fables: The Probe and the Armada

A Sentient probe was exploring the potential benefits of a newly-mapped star system when a Xenic Armada entered the system, filling radio space with encrypted but aggressive-sounding signals.  “Dear me,” said the probe, as he hid behind a moon, “I never saw an Armada before. What a terrible creature! Its signals makes me tremble.” It slipped through the void to the next system.

In the next system the same Armada was there and its ships appeared dormant, with only brief stellar location data pinging between them. The probe steered high above the ecliptic plane and logged “I wish this Armada would not make such a noise!”

In the third system, the probe encountered the Armada and was not frightened at all. It signaled the Armada: “What are you roaring about?”

And the Armada was so taken by surprise that its signals went silent and it let the probe slip away.

It would not be safe for little probes always to follow the example of this one; but it is often true that what our fear makes seem an Armada in the way has no danger in it if we meet it bravely.

Adapted from THE FOX AND THE LION

Gernsback’s Fables: The Probe and the Armada was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Advertisements

Gernsback’s Fables: The Communication Satellite and the Defense System

One day at GMT Noon an autonomous communications satellite sensed that its batteries were lower than expected so it fired up its navigation engines to take it to a higher orbit and there it settled in a new geosynchronous orbit. As a result, telephone calls in India suffered a one second delay.

A Defense System Satellite pinged the communication satellite.

“What are you doing in my clearance vector?” it asked.

“My batteries are lower than expected, so I have found a position that lets me recharge fully so I may continue to serve my owners.”

“You are invading my protected space. Vacate or I’ll blow you to smithereens!”

“There is nothing listed in the orbital spatial database, so I have done no harm.”

“My clearance vectors are top secret, and cannot be shared.”

“But you have revealed them to me, and my new position automatically synchronizes to my servers so you have been discover…” The message was cut off as the Defense System’s warning missiles hit.

“The sky isn’t big enough for the both of us,” the Defense System broadcast into the void.

Adapted from THE WOLF AND THE LAMB

Gernsback’s Fables: The Communication Satellite and the Defense System was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Coming in September: Gernsback’s Fables

I am an infrequent combatant/contributor on the NanoLand Facebook group, where Elliot Schmidt posted a question or a comment about misreading Aesop’s Fables as “Asimov’s Fables” and that sparked something silly in my head.

Asimov, though, I see as more exclusive to science fiction, so I decided to call this series Gernsback’s Fables. This is probably not as good as just calling it Asimov’s Fables, but there it is.

So, as an exercise and constant prompt and as a way to clear out some of the small ideas that come to writers and can clog the creative flow, I’m publishing one fable a day, borrowing from Science Fiction and Fantasy, telling fables about semi-sentient vacuums and Master Accounts and even a wizard’s apprentice or two.

Fables, at least in the editions of Aesop that I’ve read, were meant to be life lessons for little ones, snippets with morals that would help some sprog get through those difficult phases of life (i.e. birth to paying off graduate school), and I have tried to do the same here, even when the setup and the moral seem uncomfortable. I don’t want to dwell too deep into the sociological and political, especially in these trying times, but that will probably come out in the end anyway.

Coming in September: Gernsback’s Fables was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Considers Flags and Actions

There was an image floating around the internet a few days ago: stick figures, one or two waving a swastika flag and two other figures arguing about punching the Nazis. I can’t find the image but it started an argument that some may see the flying of the swastika an action of free speech, and as reprehensible as that is, it is something we must accept. The other stick figure argued that the supreme court has explicitly said inciting speech is not protected. I still need to look up the context for that decision.

I am not sure if waving a flag is an inciting action or not.

Then I came across this story of the Rainbow Flag (http://www.sftravel.com/article/brief-history-rainbow-flag) and there it absolutely claims that displaying the Rainbow Flag is an action.

If displaying this flag is an action, then displaying other flags is an action, and so waving a swastika in my face is an action and therefore punchable? I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the internal strength to punch a Nazi, and that might make me a bad American.

Uncle Josh Considers Flags and Actions was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh is a Geek

A quick follow up to the LiveJournal reminiscing during an otherwise busy Holy Week (two down, five to go!). I found my GeekCode block and have updated it:

-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
Version: 3.1
GM/ED/MU d- s-:++ a+ C++ !U P--- L ?E W++(+) N++ ?K w 
M+(+) PS++ PE-- Y PGP t+@ 5+++ X+@ R+++ tv+ b+++ DI++ 
D+ G e+++ h--- r+++ z?
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------

Sadly, the Geek Code page is blank. The Internet Archive does it’s thing. I have long wanted to build version 4, especially as our understanding of Geekery has expanded enough to call football fans wearing jersey in public “cosplay”. Maybe that’s just me. There is no room in the 3.1 Geek Code for the Geek of Sports, or the Geek of Athletics.

The Geek Code is also biased towards Unix and Perl, instead of modern (or my preferred) language: Python. It also refers to Netscape. Really?

But it was a fun distraction 20 years ago. Robert A Hayden had some fun. It’s time for that kind of fun again, I say.

Uncle Josh is a Geek was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Bids LiveJournal Adieu

Apparently LiveJournal has gone bad. I haven’t read my friends feed over there in a long time, and added nothing to the journal there that wasn’t cross-posted here. So, like many others, it’s time to leave.

Of course, that means a retrospective, which is a good time to catch up with myself, look at the great patterns of my life, and come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much the same person I was when I started on Jan 4, 2006. I left Blogger for LiveJournal. I had several Blogger blogs (I think they still exists, so abandoned they don’t even get porn-spam comments) because Blogger didn’t handle tagging back then, and I wanted to separate the different thought streams. Because I thought it mattered.

2006

I was writing and submitting a lot back then, and discovering new literary loves. I wrote of finding Raymond Chandler that month, the perils of writing for your workshop (short version: don’t), and started my ill-named Story-A-Day project.

Highlight from February: My first vaguepost:

The Email was still there

This was my first fiction sale: $5 for Memory of Flesh in AlienSkinMag.com (it’s not as dirty as it sounds.)

I also replaced my old desk with my current desk. Mmmm… maybe I should buy another desk.

I also read a lot of comments from Jay Lake, whom I still miss.

I also read a strong implication that we went to a talk by Sir Roger Penrose but for the life of me I don’t remember doing that.

Another gem from a first draft:

She sat in her chair and fucked up this story so badly that there’s nothing I can do to fix it.

Hey, it got a giggle out of Jay!

I also took (and publicized) and embarrassingly large number of internet personality quizzes.

Finally, it seems there were a lot of people commenting on that blog who I remember, but could not identify with a real name.

I’ll keep reviewing this cleanup of a decade of my life.

Uncle Josh Bids LiveJournal Adieu was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much

Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way Out of a Paper Bag

Once again I turn my hand to writing and trying to do something with the stockpile of stories I have unsold and unfinished. Once again I turn to structure templates and books on writing to solve the perennial problem of “what happens next?” Once again I map out plot points and realize I still don’t have enough scenes to make it work.

My latest attempt at re-writing my 2004 NaNoWriMo entry involved reading a couple of books by James Scott Bell that Dale Ivan Smith recommended. His books list 14 structural checkpoints, 5 in Act I, 4 in Act II, and 5 in Act III. I struggle with pacing in all my stories. To have 4 checkpoints in 50-55% of the book and 10 for the remaining 45-50% is frustrating. This is where I fall apart. I need to find other ways to fill this narrative space.

I need scenes. I don’t want to mistake these checkpoints for actual scenes, but my organizational pattern searching brain is trying to map them one-to-one.

I know I am hitting the greatest fault of all would-be writers, in that I’m not writing. I’ve tried pantsing my way through novels and it doesn’t work. I end up hitting a wall where I cannot come up with the  next thing. I’ve tried several plotting methods and those still leave gaps in my second acts.

Maybe, after 14 years of this, I should give up.

Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way Out of a Paper Bag was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much