Tag Archive | sci-fi

What is science fiction?

Besides questioning the “what if” of our world today, science fiction apparently has a lot of other things to offer.

Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.

— Susan Sontag

But it’s not all hopeless.

Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.

— Isaac Asimov

A future of genetic testing.

I’ve said many times before, I’m a science fiction writer. My biggest question in life is “What happens if…?”

I read an article earlier this week that gave the suggestion of a mommy gene, and the physical possibility of it. She had an interesting line in it.

“More Mommy genes!” the headlines raved. Mice and humans share many of the same genes, so these genes may influence women’s nurturing instincts, too. Perhaps we can test every wannabe mom to see if she has working copies of FosB, Peg1/ Mest, and Peg3. [The mommy genes identified in mice.] Then we’ll know who can soothe babies into submission and who thinks it’s a good idea to leave them to cry under the stars.

So, this started me thinking, What if a place did test women to see if they were able to be nurturing or not? What if they started tying this into the adoption process? What if they didn’t let anyone have a baby who didn’t have this gene?

So there’s a thought for you. You can find out more about mommy genes here.

Do not laugh at the science fiction writer.

Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. …Science fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about.

Ray BradburyBrown Daily Herald, March 24, 1995

I’ve never actually read anything written by Ray Bradbury. (I honestly don’t have the time at the moment.) However, between this and how he defines science fiction, I think he may be very interesting.

Styles of Writing

What kind of fiction do you write?

What kind of fiction do you wish you could write but know you don’t have enough experience/knowledge to write about it?

Living in Space

Since I’m really a science fiction writer, even if I don’t often talk about it, I suppose posting this article today makes sense. It wasn’t as awesome as I was hoping for but it is pretty interesting.  Unfortunately, it’s audio, and I couldn’t find the transcript.

And, note this, Piers Sellers thinks we might make it to Mars by 2030. Obviously a lot later than Star Trek (TOS) thought we would, but nonetheless, interesting.

An Interview With an Astronaut

Let’s Discuss Viruses.

A very common science fiction scenario is a rampant virus that kills off most of humanity or something like that. So, it makes sense that i should post something about it.

When naming viruses, we’re going to go back to the whole kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species thing that you learned in elementary school. The family name ends in -vinidase.  The genus ends in -virus. So, if you decide that you want to make up the name for a virus, keep that in mind when making up your name. Species are distinguished by numbers.

Now,  you must understand that viruses aren’t living organisms. They cannot reproduce by themselves. They need a host cell. Once it finds a host cell, it will then insert its DNA into the DNA sequence of that cell so the cell unknowingly makes the virus.

Then, one of two things happen. Either little part of the virus is made, put together, and then release. Or, the virus makes a whole bunch of little viruses inside the cell and then ruptures the cell and the viruses can spread out into the surrounding area.

That is all very technical in some ways. Let’s move on to maybe slightly easier things.

Viruses are only for targeting one specific type of cell. That is why if you get a cold virus on your arm, it could sit there forever and ever (well, it’d actually die before too long) and never give you a cold unless you wiped it by your mouth or nose. This cold virus will also only effect respiratory tissues.

Keep in mind then that related viruses have two things in common. 1) They have close to the same genetic information. 2) They share the same type of host.

About defenses, sometimes the virus can cover itself with a fatty layer (called a lipid layer). Because your body recognizes foreign substances by proteins, the fatty layer covers the proteins and hides it from the body. The white blood cells also cannot recognize foreign objects if they are inside your cells.]

Viruses aren’t always deadly. Sometimes they are used to transmit good DNA into a cell because of their fundamental characteristics of inserting the DNA. For example, a person with cystic fibrosis (CF) ends up having too much mucous production that blocks their airways (so far as I understand). They can have a virus repair the part of the cell that causes the excess secretions by inserting that DNA sequence into the cold virus (which effects the respiratory tissues that also causes CF). The person will first get a cold, then eventually the cells will start operating correctly and the symptoms are relieved.

Lastly, many of us have heard of the avion bird flu and how dangerous it is. And that is true; the virus is very dangerous. Almost everyone who has gotten it, which are mainly people in Asia and mainly younger children, have died. However, because it’s not able to be transmitted via the air, and can only be transmitted through contact, it has yet to become the deadly menace they thought possible.

So, there’s some about viruses to encourage your creative juices flowing.

Growing DNA

This is going to sound really futuristic and awesome, but it isn’t. It’s actually being done right now, the idea of growing DNA.

Say, I kidnap someone. And me, being a stupid criminal, sends the family a ransom note and I lick the envelope. They can take that envelope, find just one little cell off of that envelope and use it to find me through the DNA.

Now, in reality, they cannot take that one single cell and analyze the DNA to find me. They need more than one cell, because, really, DNA is small.

So what scientists can do is toss the cell (maybe the DNA. I’m not sure now.) in a test tube, toss in the building blocks of DNA–the sugar and phosphates (backbones of DNA), and the  adenine, cytosine, guanine  and thymine–and toss in a DNA polymase so it can separate the DNA and let it sit for a day or so.

Once all this sits for a bit, we’ll have a lot of DNA that we can then analyze and find the kidnapper.

Now this can technically be used for a lot of other things that requires more than one cell of DNA. I just heard this in class and kept thinking to myself: Now, how can I use this in a story?

AS a note, this is called PCR.

when the future interweaves with the now

I have been wanting to write a post for several days on heath care and the health care reform. Why when this is a writing blog? Because I believe that with the politicians in WAshing trying for universal health care, there is a lot to be written about. (I say trying due to the fact that there are too many lawsuits out there and that this SHOULD go to the Supreme Court  and probably be overturned there, if the judges have any guts to follow the constitution.) I am going to try not to get political.

See, Universal Health Care in American (which I shall now abbreviate as UHCA) can take so many routes depending on what we think the outcome of this bill will be. Will this mean that everyone is now going to live in peace in happiness to the ripe old age of 90? Will this mean that the government will start forcing mandatory exercise programs, like in “1984,” so that people can be better and healthier and then the government doesn’t have to fund so much?

What about the corruption of the politicians? This bill is 3000 pages long! Surely they can slip somewhere between the pages that all congressmen get their own private doctor and a spa built into their own to “promote health.” Nearly every time in history, when a socialist government was tried, it actually resulted in two groups of people. The every day people that were poor and then politicians, that are rich.

HOw does this effect the everyday person? How would a person go to the doctor now? Is it going to end up like Canada, where any serious diagnostic test takes years to have done, any operation weeks to years?

Or maybe it will be bliss. Maybe everyone will be flocking to working in the health care industry now because of how great it is, everyone will be healthy now, America will be the pride of the world and the leader and healthy reformations. [would insert sarcastic remark here but promised she would try to avoid political commentary]  Maybe it will be what Obama really thinks it is.

Or what does Obama thinks it is? I’m sorry, but too many people have said that having UHC is a bad idea for a country to do, England included. So maybe it is more of a way to manipulate “stupid” Americans into controlling them. Maybe it will be what Obama wants but it will not be what the people who think it is good wants.

We, as science fiction writers, have just had a door open. We no longer have to explain how UHCA was passed because it has been. If we want to get technical, and depending on what picture we are going to pain, the sudden deaths of a bunch of Supreme Court justices would explain why the bill never was overturned by the Supreme Court. Now, we can let our imagination run wild, free, and do as it wishes.

This sudden change really causes me problems, though, because I have been toying for a while about a story that may take place thirty years from now. The story did involve the results of health care, if it passed, and you can probably guess they were not pretty. Since I have been thinking about what story to write next, I’ve been toying between that one and another one that really doesn’t have a whole lot to say. (It’s based off of a song.) I honestly wonder if this should be the time to write that one.

No matter. Although on some levels, this is bad for writers because they are taxing royalties, this is also good for writers because suddenly we are put in a situation that asks, “What if….”

What if health care is good?

What if Obama is a robot from Mars and is going to posion us all thorugh this health care? (That would explain why he doesn’t want his birth certificate shown.)

What if this becomes like “The Giver”, where the old are terminated as soon as they become “not useful”?

What if the election was rigged in 2008?

What if people are only treated for non-preventable diseases?

What if… the question of a science fiction writer.

I was going to put a link to an awesome youtube video but it doesn’t work as well as I thought.

bookstore = desire to write

So, if you are new to my blog you might not know that I live in small town South Dakota. Due to this slight location difficulty, I can get to a book store perhaps once every couple months, due to it being an hour away. But, bookstores are always a source of interesting emotions to me.

Being a science fiction writer, I often find myself checking out the recent release and other books that appear good in science fiction/fantasy section. I never buy books in the store and rarely do I buy books off of Amazon. The reason? A lot of it has to do with I’m too worried about getting a bad book. A lot of it has to do with my strict determination to maintain a sense of morality in what I read, that sense of morality being low swearing and low on sexual references/sex, if any.

But worse is that recently I haven’t found anything that I have actually wanted to read. I’ve liked some Orson Scott Card books, so I think I’m going to see what he does outside of Ender’s universe. (I saw Treason today and it looked interesting.) And actually Asimov looks very interest in some of his other books, so I’ll look at those. But in general, the new books are rather dull.

Which leads me into why bookstores are very unique for me. They make me want to write. Either I am incredibly unique in my interests, or there are other people out there who want to read what I want to read.

So my solution? I’ll write what I want to read. Obviously, that isn’t the best solution in the world. For one, it means that my writing skills don’t really improve with what I read. But in all honesty, is what is put out right now worth basing one’s writing skills on? I learned almost more about characters from reading a Charlotte Yonge (circa 1850) than I have from anything else. And I don’t see what people are doing thus far in science fiction. For all I know, someone has already written every story that I want to write. (Although my opinion is that by writing something that may have a little bit of three or four authors ideas, along with some of my own, it automatically becomes all mine. That is a whole entire blog entry.)

I would like to be able to read the kind of stories I like but I don’t know how to find them. Actually, what’s really bad is sometimes I want to just sit down and read a story that hasn’t been written at all, just to know where it ends up. But I like the idea of writing and by seeing how much  there isn’t in Barnes & Noble to read, it makes me want to write, and get published all the more.

On one other note, there seems to be a lot of fantasy published right now. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has to do with the Twilight craze or something. But my (probably faulty) logic is that eventually publishers are going to stop wanting to publish fantasy and go more towards science fiction again. I need to be there with my book, sooner rather than later, because if this happens, I want to have a shot.

Since, another one of my (probably faulty) logical deductions is that recently publishers have been accepting younger authors’ works. It used to be the case that authors were generally in their fifties or sixties and now they can be younger. If, for some reason, they see this as a bonus (more stories to be written by a younger author = more money maybe?), then I also have an advantage. (Although being the eldest of four, turning twenty-two this year and still hardly anything done in life, I’m questioning my youth on occasionally. Mentally, I’m still very young but age wise… ? Yeah, okay, I still look like I’m a teenager.)

So, this ended up being a giant ramble but to summarize so you’re not completely lost, I want to read good books. But good books are difficult to find, even in bookstores. So I write the books I want to read and hope that someday (preferably sooner) they’ll be published so others can read them as well.

One thing that I would like to ask published authors if you are reading this. I would be much more likely to read your book if I knew what I was getting into with morality before I began reading it. Don’t need to know the details like how many times they say F***. Just general comments would suffice. Thank you.

building blocks for telepathy

In a book I plan to write in the near future, I plan to create one of the early forms of telepathy. So, however much I hate my physiology class, I’m learning some very valuable things from it that would apply to a well to any form telepathy and that I will share.

Since telepathy would be similar to a general sense, it is fair to say it would function as a special sense like our sense of hearing or vision would.  In order for that to happen, there are some basic structures of senses that are a part of every single sense.

First, we need a way to sense the actual stimulus. In my example, it will be the stimulus of another’s thoughts that are somehow detected.

Next, we need it to travel someway to a processing center.

We need a processing center.

And then if we were to have people to communicate telepathically, like I plan, we need a way to send the messages again.

NOw, I’m not a brain surgeon or anything here. I’m just taking a physiology course. But let’s just say for example that brain waves can actually be transmitted through air. A special sense in our brain would detect them and send the message via our nerves to a special processing area of our brain. Once in the special processing area, it decodes the message, say, your thoughts, and so that I can understand them like speech. Then, I send them back either the same basic way or a different way. If we are going to do it like speech, it would be a different location. Actually the speech center would probably have to be tied in just because.

Does this make any sense?

Now, I’ve read a few books that have telepathics in it and sometimes they can move things mentally. I’m not sure if this is a vital skill or not for my story. But after writing down this whole process, this second function would have to be something completely different.

This is also where I get stuck. Because I can logically understand the concept of our brain being able to have a special receiver that receives messages from other people’s heads. But how would something be moved without touching it?  Logically, I can’t even figure this out, excluding most science, because our brain merely exists like a giant, self forming computer. If I ever figure it out, I’ll tell you. Maybe i’ll just drop that part, but it removes some really awesome scenes from my story.