From Thought to Video

No, I’m not talking about direct-to-video releases, and I’m not talking about the creative process from a filmmaker’s conception through to the big screen debut – I’m talking about scientists extracting your thoughts and then projecting them for someone else to see. For example, displaying your memories to a jury.

The article I link to above is a couple of years old, but I was unaware of it at the time I wrote BRAIN STORM, a courtroom sci-fi with a twist.

The idea of being able to read/display thoughts technologically is fascinating, with all kinds of practical applications – good and bad. What would you use that kind of technology for?

You can pick up BRAIN STORM at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

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Droning On and On

Well, that crazy powder keg we call the Middle East is once again heating up, with a deadly chess game of powerful players ready to strike, counter-strike, and counter-counter-strike. Why can’t we all just get along? Oh yeah – people are selfish, power-hungry idiots.

One of the war tactics typically employed these days involves the use of drone strikes – you know, unmanned aircraft armed with warheads. Well here’s an idea: how about they just have drones fight drones, so nobody gets hurt?

My short story, NEXT PHASE, plays on that idea. Except, despite the use of remotely-controlled drones, the pilots who drive them from the safety of a control bunker are still in grave danger…read the story to find out how, why, and what they do to handle it.

You can pick up the military sci-fi tale NEXT PHASE at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

 

Extending Your Mind

In the wake of the notorious Cleveland kidnapper’s “Life + 1,000 years” sentence earlier this month, an article at Slate noted science-fictional ways that future tech may be used to augment the correctional system – reminiscent of what the Argrathi did to O’Brien on DS9 or what the Baneans did to Paris on Voyager.

I found this passage from the Slate article interesting:

As the technology required to scan and map human brain processes improves, some believe it will one day be possible to upload human minds on to computers. With sufficient computer power, it would be possible to speed up the rate at which an uploaded mind runs. Professor Nick Bostrom, head of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, calls a vastly faster version of human-level intelligence ”speed superintelligence.” He observes that a speed superintelligence operating at 10,000 times that of a biological brain “would be able to read a book in a few seconds and write a PhD thesis in an afternoon. If the speed?up were instead a factor of a million, a millennium of thinking would be accomplished in eight and a half hours.” Similarly, uploading the mind of a convicted criminal and running it a million times faster than normal would enable the uploaded criminal to serve a 1,000-year sentence in eight-and-a-half hours… Further, the eight-and-a-half hour 1,000-year sentence could be followed by a few hours (or, from the point of view of the criminal, several hundred years) of treatment and rehabilitation. Between sunrise and sunset, then, the vilest criminals could serve a millennium of hard labor and return fully rehabilitated either to the real world (if technology facilitates transferring them back to a biological substrate) or, perhaps, to exile in a computer-simulated world.

Apparently, scientists are seriously working on mapping the mind with just these kind of amazing applications in mind (sorry, bad pun). But the whole idea of mind uploading is pretty fascinating.

In fact – what if you could upload your mind into a new, indestructible synthetic body? Or a variety of bodies – like trying on new outfits? My short story MIND OVER MATTER delves into that idea – with a major twist. I think you’ll like it.

Check out MIND OVER MATTER and let me know what you think. You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

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Sheer “Lunarcy”?

Late last month, a couple of congress-critters decided it would be a good idea to establish a national park . . . on the moon.

Yep, that’s right – they want to set up a United States national park on the ol’ cheeseball (as Rufus Quince has been known to call it). Opinions on the value and feasibility of the out-of-this-world piece of legislation are rather mixed. Decide for yourself. (I imagine the recruitment of park rangers would be quite interesting!)

The idea of making the lunar landing site into a historical tourist attraction reminds me of my short story TAG-ALONGS, in which visiting such pivotal points in history as the moon landing can become the vacation of a lifetime – until something goes horribly wrong.

Check out TAG-ALONGS and let me know what you think. You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

 

It’s Tough Being a Secret Agent

The latest revelations regarding the huge Benghazi scandal, cover-up, and cover-up scandal in which the Obama Administration has embroiled itself should be deeply disturbing to any citizen, regardless of which “side of the political aisle” you may be on (if any). Each new piece of information gives greater meaning to the old adage, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

Apparently, the nature of the CIA’s questionable activities at the time of the terrorist attack have necessitated the spy agency’s rigorous polygraph testing of its own agents in order to try to keep a lid on the ever-expanding pack of lies.

It must make it tough to be a spy these days. With all the twists and turns involved in the espionage business, it might be hard to know which way is up. Agents find themselves sandwiched between a hundred different layers of varying “gray” hues, with moral ambiguity at every turn.

Reminds me of what Nigel Halsted, the main character in my short story INITIATE had to face as he was first recruited to join a shadowy secret agent organization during the early decades of Earth’s first foray into interstellar politics.

Check the short story out and let me know what you think! You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

Oceanic Flatulence? Okay, Now That’s Funny.

An article this week at an Indian website gives a nice four-page discussion about the Bermuda Triangle, detailing some of the historical disappearances and discussing a few of the various theories behind its mysterious nature.

The triangle does not exist, according to the U.S. Navy – further evidence that denial is not just a river in Egypt.

While both articles above manage to throw a lot of cold water on the whole idea of the Bermuda Triangle being either a) more dangerous than other maritime zones or b) imbued with any kind of paranormal qualities, the first article does mention a scientific phenomenon known as “oceanic flatulence” being a possible culprit in ship-sinkings. I found the idea of the sea farting to be rather humorous – but then I am sometimes a little juvenile.

Still, the idea of a mysterious area on the surface of the earth causing travelers to disappear is ripe pickings for fiction, and one cause of the disappearances not really considered in these articles is that of dimensional portals.

Yep, now we have crossed right over into science fiction. That’s why my short story, OTHERPLACE, not only has a Bermuda Triangle-like phenomenon that is really a dimensional portal, but it takes place on the moon, in the future, just for a little extra sci-fi fun. Oh, and it’s also a fantasy cross-over, just for good measure!

Check it out and let me know what you think! You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

 

 

 

 

Do You Remember?

I loved the movie Inception – a story about using dreams to implant ideas into a person’s mind. I didn’t get around to watching it until a couple of years after it came out – but I made up for it by viewing it twice in a month.

An article this week on iO9 looks at the fact that scientists have now managed to implant false memories into rodents – not by suggestion, but by actual neural manipulation. Amazing.

My story REMEMBER goes down that same road (using a specially-engineered pill) – with possibly disastrous results for one woman. You can find it on its own, or in my internationally-popular mystery anthology, ICE MAN.

Check it out and let me know what you think! You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the cover image to purchase through Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase through Amazon

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

 

Face Off

Total face transplants have been in the news recently, with a man and a woman receiving the extensive surgeries required to replace/rebuild countenances destroyed by violence.

Medical technology continues to be truly amazing – allowing for recovery from injuries that only a couple of decades ago would’ve been impossible.

Makes me think of the extremely far-fetched 90s film, “Face/Off” starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Also makes me think of those first couple of Tom Cruise “Mission Impossible” flicks, with the uncanny peel-off facial disguises. Maybe in a couple of more decades, those movies won’t seem quite so far-fetched.

Meanwhile, switching faces – as a form of disguise – is a key element of my short story, EDGE OF HUMAN. But instead of surgery, or rubber masks, a biochemical transformation is the method used, in a one-man race against time where the stakes couldn’t be much higher.

Check it out and let me know what you think! You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

Crash

I used to live very close to the San Francisco International Airport, or SFO. I lived in Burlingame, Millbrae, San Bruno, and South San Francisco, among other Bay Area cities. In Millbrae, under certain weather conditions, the jets would fly right over our high school (Mills High School) during landing. In South S.F., we lived in an apartment that was so close to the airport take-off flight path, the aircraft would make the whole place rumble, freaking out our little cat. It felt like you could reach up and touch the landing gear.

As a kid, I had a few recurring dreams of looking down Adeline Drive toward the airport, and seeing a 747 come crashing straight down into the ground in slow motion – kind of like when the imperial star destroyer Executor crashed nose-first into the second death star in Return of the Jedi. It was one of the freakiest dreams I’ve ever had.

That’s why the video this week of a Korean 777 jet crashing at SFO gives me such awful chills. (Apologies for the audio portion.) Absolutely terrifying.

I had another scary experience with crashes just yesterday – only it wasn’t an aircraft. I came THIS close to being T-boned at high speed on my way to work. The car that almost hit me had run a red light as I was turning left (I had been stuck in the intersection and had to complete my turn, even though the light had changed). His tired screeched, I yelled out in fear, my heart pounded. That stuff really shakes you up. In 27 years of driving I have never been in a reportable auto accident (as a driver or passenger). I’m glad my record remains intact today!

My short story CONVERGENCE centers around a serious car crash, and the people involved – they way their lives are intertwined. It also involves mind-reading. It’s my first attempt at what I will call “slipstream” fiction.

You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Please let me know what you think of it!

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Zombie-riffic

Last Saturday I went and saw the movie “World War Z” with a good friend of mine. I don’t usually go for “horror” type stuff, but this was more of a science-fiction action flick – though it did keep my adrenaline flowing most of the time.

I haven’t read the book that inspired the movie, but I guess that is irrelevant in this case, since (according to the author) it shares only the name, and not much else.

Without giving too much away (I hate spoilers), I give it a thumbs up for overall entertainment value. They did a good job of keeping the story moving, and also avoided a whole lot of gratuitous gore. The zombie makeup was great, and the “swarming” action was morbidly fascinating to watch.

Back in 2010 I wrote a zombie tale of my own, called SURGE. It contains a twist I’ve not seen before in the zombieverse, though I can’t claim to be a true zombiephile, so I may be wrong.

Check it out and let me know what you think! You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Click the image to purchase from Amazon
Click the image to purchase from Amazon

Feeling Like a Pawn?

In today’s brave new world of no 4th Amendment protections, the NSA’s massive dragnet of “vacuuming” up all your phone calls and electronic communications (emails, texts, web browsing history, keystrokes) may make you feel like little more than a pawn in a huge global power-game of chess. This Wired article from a couple of weeks back describes a major player in that chess game, General Keith Alexander and his enormously powerful cyber-army. Pretty fascinating stuff.

This cyberwarfare reminds me of some of the stuff that goes on in my high-tech thriller ASSASSINWARE. Back when I wrote that novel, I was unaware that our government was already developing ways to use computers to have an actual physical attack capability. Read the book to see where that kind of tech can get you…

Speaking of pawns, I’ve been playing chess at the office with a coworker lately – an ongoing series of games with sometimes no more than a handful of moves per day, often having to wait over the weekend for the game to resume. We have a little post-it note that we flip over to indicate it’s the other guy’s turn. I think today I may lose my first match…

This awesome video shows how to get really creative with your chess playing. And since our government no longer plays by the rules, such a tutorial may come in handy.

Meanwhile, if you want to read a short thriller story that involves chess – and ghosts – check out CHECKMATE. You can pick it up at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon
Click the cover image to purchase from Amazon

 

Time and Water

What do they have in common? Well, they both flow – maybe that’s all.

If you really want to stretch it, you could say that they’re both necessary for life, and that there never seems to be enough of either.

But what if time and water were connected in some other way? My fantasy short story THE EXILE explores that possibility. It’s actually my first straight-up fantasy tale, so I’d be really interested to know what you think of it.

Let me know!

You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

(By the way, speaking of time, I couldn’t resist mentioning this: the Queen of England discusses time travel with Doctor Who’s companion!)

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Farewell, Earth

Day after tomorrow marks 50 years since the Soviets launched the world’s first female astronaut into Earth orbit. Last Friday, Valentina Tereshkova stated that she would love to get a one-way ticket to the red planet.

And that may just be possible. You may have heard of the Mars One project – an ambitious private organization’s goal to send a crew to Mars on a mission in 2023 that would mean never returning to Earth. It would mark the start of mankind’s first off-world colony.

(I had to laugh at this bit in that article: “Radiation levels will be high during transit to Mars, so individuals beyond childbearing age will likely be chosen as the ‘first wave’ of colonists.” Uh…how do you colonize without procreation?)

It’s interesting to me that we’ve never bothered to colonize the moon – or even hinted at attempting it. Too cheesy? I don’t know…

But I do know that a one-way trip to Mars could leave the interplanetary settlers in a real bind if they were to ever run into supply problems. Although based on a lunar colony, my story OLD WOUNDS takes a look at the struggles of a group of folks trying to settle the moon and running into issues with their sponsors back on Earth. The story touches on friendship, tough choices, diplomacy, love, and terrorism.

Check out the story and let me know what you think! You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

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Technology? Magic? Or BOTH?

Arthur C. Clarke is credited with saying that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Indeed, the technology with which we live today would certainly be considered no less than magical to someone from the past (and not-too distant past, at that). And likely there will be technological developments in the next few decades that would look to our 2013 eyes like magic.

This recent news article speaks of “technological wizardry” being used by the U.S. government in the new cyberwars – but I don’t think it means actual magic.

However, in my short story, THESE DARK ELECTRONS, the future is a place where technology and actual wizard-style magic co-exist side by side. The global government is run as a two-branched system: one half tech, one half magic.

Check out the story and let me know what you think! You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

These Dark Electrons_cover_1

Spooky Blindsight

This BBC News item from a while back describes how a blind man was able to navigate his way around obstacles without seeing them or touching them – a phenomenon called “blindsight.”

And this one in Psychology Today takes a look at some additional experiments regarding seeing without sight.

I’ve wondered what it is like for people born blind – what do they “see” in their mind’s eye? Having never experienced vision, what would they experience, from a visual perspective, within the mind? What are their dreams like? How is their own imagination displayed in their heads? Is it like me trying to imagine what magnetic perception or infrared perception is like?

I have to assume that these folks, although sightless in mortality, had been able to see in the premortal existence. Perhaps that connection to a sort of spiritual sight is what allows the protagonist of my short paranormal romance A SENSE OF SOULS to “see” what she does.

Check out the story and let me know what you think. You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

A Sense of Souls_cover

 

 

Contingency Plans

Almost seven and a half years ago, NASA launched “New Horizons,” a spacecraft that is destined for a rendezvous with the planet Pluto. Er, the dwarf Pluto, that is.

How far has New Horizons traveled already? About 2.6 billion miles. That’s billion with a B. Pretty impressive. What’s also pretty cool is that the New Horizons team has come up with several contingency plans to help minimize the chance of actually losing the spacecraft via a collision with space debris as they near the “Pluto system,” which is not only strewn with small rocks, but also home to five moons of the dwarf.

This article at Space Daily, published this week, provides fascinating details of the plans.

What’s conspicuously missing from that article is any discussion of how Pluto feels about all this. I mean, first they demote him to a dwarf, then they come at him with a probe? Can’t they just let him wallow in the ignominy of his dwarfhood with a little privacy? A little dignity?

Anyway…this very cool and geeky space news reminded me of my own take on Pluto’s embarrassing demotion to a dwarf, called PLUTOED.

Check out the story and let me know what you think. You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

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Mind Power

Samsung recently offered a demo of a new interface that will allow users to interact with their devices via a mind link. I’ve been waiting a long time for the keyboard to finally be replaced by something better. It just seems so archaic to have to tap (or swipe) on a bunch of individual letters in order to communicate with our technology.

Of course, the next logical step is to come up with an EEG that does not require contact with the head – I mean, who wants to wear a weird hat all the time? Why not build a remote EEG sensor directly into the device you wish to control?

The power of the mind is only beginning to be mapped out and understood – there’s so much more we don’t know. In my short story POD N (which earned Honorable Mention in an Apex Magazine contest), there are entities that not only understand the power of the mind, but see all else (e.g., the body) as superfluous.

Check out the story and let me know what you think. You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Pod N_cover

 

 

The Importance of Minions

i09 has a roundup of today of tales where the elimination of a single minion would’ve truly foiled the evil plot of the antagonist. I particularly like the Harry Potter, X-Men, and Voyager examples (there are actually MANY examples in Star Trek, if you think about it).

My short story, ASK GRENCH, also plays on the importance of minions – since, after all, Grench is one himself. Check out the story and let me know if you think it would qualify for the i09 list.

You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

Ask Grench_COVER

Expanding the Range of the Mind

The much-anticipated film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s awesome book, Ender’s Game, is set for release later this year. I am excited for this one!

If you haven’t read the book, you really should. In brief, children fight aliens in a “video game;” but in reality, they are controlling remote battles and engaging in a very real war. (This one sentence does not do justice to this classic science fiction tale – you really just have to read it.)

In Ender’s case, the young soldiers are unaware of the scope of the situation, but they are fully conscious. In my short story, DREAM SOLDIERS, the opposite is true: the soldiers are fully aware that they are combatants fighting a real war – but to do so, they must be UN-conscious.

DREAM SOLDIERS explores the concept of remote battles, fought in the dreamscape – and asks the question: “What happens if you die in your dreams?”

Check it out and let me know (via comments, or better yet, a review) if you think DREAM SOLDIERS would make for an interesting film adaptation.

You can get it at Amazon (Kindle) or Smashwords (Nook, iPad, Sony, Kobo, and everything else). Enjoy!

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