Tag Archives: doomsday

Vocabulary for Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels


In science fiction and fantasy, there is normally a cornerstone culture, central to the story, that is malevolent. It is oppressive of its citizenry, setting the stage for the rise of a hero, an avenger of the people.

There are two words to describe such a culture:

  • cacotopia
  • dystopia

Both words define a world that is the opposite of Utopia, or paradise: a world of deprivation, horror and exploitation. Usually the people are enslaved, if not physically, then through economics or some psychological method. Or earth changes, like  global coastal events caused by meteor strikes or the aftermath of world wars, have disrupted normal society and destroyed convenience systems, such as the electrical grid or banking. Whatever the cause, the new world order is a system that grinds those under its bonds to grist.

Now that your imagination is twisting, turning, leaping and bounding with images, get writing!

A Writer’s Cash Cow


Are you looking for that writing topic that has the potential to turn you from pauper to prince?

Consider the doomsday story.

According to CUNY physics professor Michio Kaku, the doomsday story is a cash cow that cycles around with intensity about every ten years. Remember Y2K? Today it is the end of the Mayan calendar.

(Make a note to self to check pop culture in 2020 to see what doomsday buzz has turned into a roar.)

There are real problems that get eclipsed by doomsday stories. Some of those problems are:

  • Heating up of planet earth
  • Melting polar ice caps
  • Increasingly rapid migration of the magnetic poles
  • Real help for adults with mental illness
  • Curing cancer and other life-threatening illnesses
  • Financial solvency for governments
  • Clean water
  • Weather changes

That said, if you are strictly a commercial writer, you have three or four years to check your societal crystal ball and decipher the clues telling what the next big doomsday story will be. Then write your heart out and ride the wave. The last five years have been lucrative for the Mayan storytellers. Maybe you will be my new rich friend the next time doomsday cycles around.

Weird Science for Weird Stories


Ever heard of the Carrington Event?

In 1859, there was a powerful solar storm, the most powerful one documented by man at that time.

Amateur astrologer Richard Carrington was sketching sun spots in his observatory when brilliant light signaled an explosion on the sun’s surface. A massive solar flare, with the energy of 10 billion atomic bombs, erupted, sending that energy directly at the earth.

Christopher Klein, writing for History Channel’s History in the Headlines, writes:

“That night, telegraph communications around the world began to fail; there were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp and laborers started their daily chores, believing the sun had begun rising. Some thought the end of the world was at hand. . .”

Fast forward to 2012.

NASA reports that the sun is ramping up its solar activity in a regular 11 year cycle. Astronomers around the globe are watching large coronal mass ejections. Weird cloud formations, unlike anything ever seen before, are attributed to atmospheric disturbances caused by solar weather. Other sky phenomenon, normally seen only in the arctic regions, are appearing in lower latitudes. The cause? Solar activity.

It’s said if the same size solar storm that hit the earth in 1859 were to hit the earth today, the electromagnetic blast would result in a massive power grid failure. In the past several days, there have been reports of bizarre events in the United States that sound eerily like the damage to the electrical power system in existence in 1859, the telegraph lines. Read the following reports and see if you agree.

Furthermore, pull out the laptop computer. Find a comfy chair. If these news items don’t fire up your imagination for a science fiction story, nothing will.

Thousands of Central Texans without power early Thursday after poles catch fire

By KIRSTEN CROW

Friday December 7, 2012

Thousands of Central Texans lost power early Thursday morning when dozens of utility poles in several counties caught fire, likely sparked by weather conditions, officials said.

The phenomenon that caused the fires, known as “tracking,” can occur when dust accumulated on the insulators of utility poles comes into contact with heavy fog conditions, according to experts. The moisture, combined with caked-on elements, can act as a conductor of sorts, causing electricity in the power lines to arc and the poles to catch fire, several experts said.

Although emergency and power officials said isolated incidents are not necessarily uncommon, several said the sheer number of such fires in such a short period of time Thursday morning was unique.

A work crew from Hilco Electric Cooperative works on one of dozens of Central Texas power poles that caught fire early Thursday.

Hilco Electric Cooperative, which serves Dallas, Ellis, Hill, McLennan and Johnson counties, had 26 poles catch fire — 24 of them in Hill and McLennan Counties, assistant general manager Lea Sanders said.

“We haven’t experienced anything of this magnitude before,” said Sanders, who has worked at Hilco for 13 years. . . .

ANOTHER STORY FROM THE TEXAS NEWSPAPER ROCKWALL HERALD BANNER:

December 6, 2012

Utility pole fire shuts down I-30, creates traffic nightmare

By Caleb Slinkard & Emma Mills

Thu Dec 06, 2012, 05:08 PM CST

ROCKWALL — A utility pole fire in Rowlett near Dalrock Road shut down both sides of Interstate 30 Thursday morning as Oncor Electronic Delivery employees worked to keep the pole from collapsing onto the highway, bringing power lines with it. The fire, which began around 10 a.m., was extinguished by utility workers at approximately 11 a.m.

Catherine Cuellar, Oncor’s Communications Manager, said that the cause of the fire is unknown at the time and she contradicted reports from NBC 5 that the pole had burned completely through and tension kept the power lines in place. . . .

FINALLY, FROM KCENTV.COM, ALSO IN TEXAS:

A series of utility pole fires across Central Texas caught on fire early Thursday morning, causing people in several counties to lose power.

Crews spend the day hard at work.

They’re repairing utility poles like the one in front of Andy McDonald’s house in Lorena. It was one of around 60 to catch fire across Bell, McLennan, Falls and Hill counties Thursday morning.

“Kind of like our own personal Olympic torch,” McDonald described the candle-like flames atop the pole.

The lights went out around 6 a.m., then his daughter spotted the fire.

“There were chunks of burning wood on the ground…(we) went out and poured water on it.”

Across Central Texas law enforcement officials scratched their heads.

“I can’t even say career – not in my lifetime have I heard of this,” said DPS Trooper D. L. Wilson. . . .

For Science Fiction Writers: Facts about Drones


This information is from Electronic Frontier Foundation. Any emphasis is theirs:

These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

The records show that the Air Force has been testing out a bunch of different drone types, from the smaller, hand-launched Raven, Puma and Wasp drones designed by Aerovironment in Southern California, to the much larger Predator and Reaper drones responsible for civilian and foreign military deaths abroad. The Marine Corps is also testing drones, though it chose to redact so much of the text from its records that we still don’t know much about its programs.

Perhaps the scariest is the technology carried by a Reaper drone the Air Force is flying near Lincoln, Nevada and in areas of California and Utah. This drone uses “Gorgon Stare” technology, which Wikipedia defines as “a spherical array of nine cameras attached to an aerial drone . . . capable of capturing motion imagery of an entire city.” This imagery “can then be analyzed by humans or an artificial intelligence, such as the Mind’s Eye project” being developed by DARPA. If true, this technology takes surveillance to a whole new level.

While LIDAR can be used to create high-resolution images of the earth’s surface, it is also used in high tech police speed guns—begging the question of whether drones will soon be used for minor traffic violations.

It’s not a far-fetched idea to use drones to replace the traffic cop. Drone manufacturer AeroVironment offers a few suggestions of their own for drone usage:

The Future is Unmanned

AeroVironment is a world leader in the design and manufacture of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Since the introduction of Pointer in 1986, considered by many to be the first true small UAS for military use, AeroVironment’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems have supported U.S. and allied Armed Forces with reconnaissance data, helped monitor forest fires, and penetrated and analyzed volcanic plumes.

UAS have more than proven their value in the military world. Today, UAS are utilized for applications closer to home. Whether monitoring our country’s borders, protecting its citizens, monitoring pipeline and utility assets or finding those who are lost and in distress, small UAS can be launched quickly, day or night, to provide precise situational awareness whenever and wherever they are needed.

Qube is a device already in use by police departments. AeroVironment offers suggestions for its use:

Qube® is a rugged and reliable small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) specifically targeting the needs of first responders. The packaged system fits easily in the trunk of a car, and can be assembled and ready for flight in less than five minutes to provide a rapidly deployable eye in the sky, transmitting live video directly to the operator at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft.

Small UAS like the Qube system can provide valuable capabilities to a broad range of industries and applications:

Public Safety – transported in the trunk of a police vehicle, the back of a fire truck or carried in a backpack, small UAS can provide immediate situational awareness to first responders, giving them a birds-eye view of the situation, day or night, to save lives and protect property.

Wildlife and Environmental Monitoring – already used to monitor sensitive wildlife areas and populations, small UAS are increasingly providing a means of collecting important information in inaccessible areas to facilitate more effective resource management.

Infrastructure Management – dams, pipelines, offshore oil platforms, microwave transmission towers, power plants and ports are some examples of large, sometimes remote infrastructure that can be accessed easily and safely by small UAS to provide color and thermal video for rapid visual inspection.

Scientific Research – peering into a volcano is made easier and safer with small UAS, and is just one example of the new ways this technology is helping scientists gain a better understanding of the way the earth and its biosphere operate.

You can see what Qube looks like by clicking the link: http://www.avinc.com/uas/small_uas/qube/

Facts (f)or Doomsday Sci-Fi?


On November 13, I cut the segment below from a lengthier post on ZeroHedge.Com, a financial web site that monitors all things Wall Street. Since this topic is atypical for the organization, it caught my eye. Quotes within the article from Retired Major General Jerry Curry riveted my attention, particularly the last line of the portion pasted below.

Today, writing about the Apocalypse is popular. The form the end of time takes in a book plot is as varied as the authors writing on the topic. One of my readers has an indie book out in this genre, with a second book in the works. Book two is due to be released by the end of the year.

Given the high level of interest in doomsday matters, I had to share the following text. It is FACTUAL fodder for fictional stories. At this point, I normally sign off with something like “Enjoy, and happy writing,” but given the words you are about to read, I think I’ll pass on the cheery salutation.

Retired Major General Jerry Curry wrote Friday, November 9, 2012:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) confirms that it is purchasing 174 thousand rounds of hollow point bullets to be delivered to 41 locations in major cities across the U.S.

 

***

 

Those against whom the hollow point bullets are to be used — those causing the civil unrest — must be American citizens; since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens.

 

What would be the target of these 174, 000 rounds of hollow point bullets? It can’t simply be to control demonstrators or rioters. Hollow point bullets are so lethal that the Geneva Convention does not allow their use on the battle field in time of war. Hollow point bullets don’t just stop or hurt people, they penetrate the body, spread out, fragment and cause maximum damage to the body’s organs. Death often follows.

 

Potentially each hollow nose bullet represents a dead American. If so, why would the U.S. government want the SSA to kill 174,000 of our citizens, even during a time of civil unrest?

***

If this were only a one time order of ammunition, it could easily be dismissed. But there is a pattern here. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has ordered 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition. Notice that all of these purchases are for the lethal hollow nose bullets.  These bullets are not being purchased and stored for squirrel or coyote hunting. This is serious ammunition manufactured to be used for serious purposes.

 

In the war in Iraq, our military forces expended approximately 70 million rounds per year. In March DHS ordered 750 million rounds of hollow point ammunition. It then turned around and ordered an additional 750 million rounds of miscellaneous bullets including some that are capable of penetrating walls. This is enough ammunition to empty five rounds into the body of every living American citizen. Is this something we and the Congress should be concerned about? What’s the plan that requires so many dead Americans, even during times of civil unrest? Has Congress and the Administration vetted the plan in public.

***

All of these rounds of ammunition can only be used to kill American citizens, though there is enough ammunition being ordered to kill, in addition to every American citizen, also every Iranian, Syrian or Mexican. There is simply too much of it. And this much ammunition can’t be just for training, there aren’t that many weapons and “shooters” in the U.S. to fire it.

***

We have enough military forces to maintain law and order in the U.S. even during times of civil unrest.

 ***

This is a deadly serious business. I hope I’m wrong, but something smells rotten. And If the Congress isn’t going to do its duty and investigate this matter fully, the military will have to protect the Constitution, the nation, and our citizens.

The article on ZeroHedge.com ends with a 1987 quote from a United States Senator. That quote, which follows, when combined with the words of  Major General Curry is enough to make the hairs on my neck stand on end. The words of these powerful, knowledgeable men stimulate my imagination. How about yours?

Senator Daniel Inouye said in 1987:

There exists a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.

 

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy


Before Hurricane Sandy hit U. S. shores, I heard a few emergency preparedness public service announcements that urged people to collect food, water, and other supplies needed for three days in the event Sandy cut off access to services.

What Sandy–and Katrina for that matter–taught me is this:

  1. The loss of electricity means more than the absence of lights. Use of gasoline pumps, ATM machines, heaters, cold food storage and other necessities can be lost. Pharmacies close so that those who are ill can’t get prescription medications. Refrigerated or frozen food at home or in grocery stores and restaurants spoil. Banks close so no one has access to their money.
  2. The loss of access to necessities can last much longer than anyone anticipates. Older or disabled persons living on top stories of buildings without electrical power to run elevators or health-related equipment may be cut off from things they need to stay alive. In the aftermath of Sandy, some communities were told the citizens would have to make do without power for six weeks or more. At the onset of winter, life can get brutal quickly if one has no way to keep warm.
  3. The destruction of infrastructure impedes the flow of commerce. In the aftermath of Sandy, it was difficult to get food and water to stores or distribution centers because debris clogged roads. Further, disruptions in energy distribution meant folks had a hard time buying gasoline to fill tanks so they could drive outside the destruction zone for supplies. Or vehicles were destroyed by flood waters, leaving owners stranded. One cruise ship that departed before Sandy hit, and was scheduled to sail for seven days, returned to New York to find the port closed and access denied. On the 15th day, the ship was still at sea, uncertain when it could return to its home port. Those on board didn’t know if their cars were still where they left them or washed away.
  4. To complicate matters more, society breaks down. Tempers flare and fights start over situations where one person attempts to take advantage of another. People cut into line instead of waiting their turn. Vandals use the cover of chaos to steal or damage property. Price gouging is rampant. The vulnerable are fearful. Children are sent to the safety of homes of distant relatives, while parents stay behind to clean and defend the homestead, which may have become a hazardous dump site.
  5. Few individuals had a plan for how to survive a disaster of Sandy’s magnitude.

When writing about a disaster setting, be accurate about the depth of the devastation. In the days following Sandy, several persons who were directly impacted by the storm said to us, “It’s nothing like you see on TV. It’s much worse.”

Duck! Or You’ll Get Whacked by an E.T.


Just like the submarine drug runners of yesterday’s post, I have found another off-the-wall story that should be printed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, but instead comes from Veterans Today. The news is this: China and the US are carrying out joint naval maneuvers off the US coastline near San Francisco. The purpose? Preparing for an invasion of unfriendly space aliens.

(Source:http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/09/17/ufo-war-chinese-and-us-navy-off-san-francisco/ )

Holy cow! Call Batman! When I read it, I thought to myself, “Someone is pulling my leg.”

Then I stumbled on this video.

Ok. So what’s my point? First, let me ramble, then I’ll explain.

I thought Stars Wars (a.k.a. space based weapons/ defense systems) died with Ronald Reagan. Obviously not. Then it was the Russians who were the enemy. Recently we heard about Planet X headed our way to collide with the earth. Now we are preparing to protect ourselves from space aliens. Good thing we have big boats in the big Pacific Ocean to save us! Or are the joint maneuvers really to prep us for the greatest laser show on earth that is about to unfold in the night sky near you?

Whatever the truth is, this series of stories demonstrates the constantly changing technological information about which an author needs to be informed IF you are writing science fiction or doomsday stories. Even if your story is imaginary, it has to have a basis in truth to ring true to your reader. Good science fiction, even when set in the future, hangs on good science.

As the author of secretsun.blogspot.com says:

 I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about where exactly Edgar Rice Burroughs came up with all of this stuff. It certainly wasn’t out of the thin air.