Tag Archives: science

Science Fiction Writing Workshop August 2013 in Baltimore Area


One of the Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe brought a Maryland-based writing workshop to my attention. It is an annual event called Shore Leave, a fan run Science Fiction convention. Scenes from my favorite comedy The Big Bang Theory with the male cast dressed as favorite Star Trek characters filled my head. But the writer was quick to tell me she attends the convention for its writing workshops.

The convention runs over a long weekend in August in the Baltimore area. It is readily accessible by car to those living anywhere from Richmond, VA to New York City to Pittsburgh, PA.

I will provide a link at the bottom of this post to the Shore Leave web site. I don’t find the site very helpful in providing information for writers about the writing workshop schedule. I have pasted what information is there below:

Shore Leave 35 will include:

Writing Workshops: Learn how to improve your writing from some of your favorite writers.   Past panels have included writing about the non-fictional part of Trek; How to express point  of view in your story; The trials and tribulations of being a writer and more.

Joining us this summer for Shore Leave 35 will be Media Guests William Shatner, Amanda Tapping and Julie Caitlin Brown.  Note: William Shatner will be appearing on Saturday, August 3, only. More Information is available.

Also joining us are Author Guests:Rigel Ailur, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Ann C. Crispin, Mary Louise Davie, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Allyn Gibson, Phil Giunta, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Jim Johnson, William Leisner, David Mack, James Mascia, Kelly Meding, Susan Olesen, Scott Pearson, Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Judith Reeves-Stevens, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Peter Wacks, David Mark Weber, Howard Weinstein, andSteven H. Wilson.

Science Guests:Paul Abell, Lucy Albert, David Batchelor, Wayne Bird, Kirk Borne, Caroline Cox, Jerry Feldman, Larry Hubble, Yoji Kondo, Eric Schulman, Stephanie J. Slater, Timothy F. Slater, andRay Villard.

And Special GuestsTye Bourdony andT.A. Chafin.

Shore Leave web site: http://www.shore-leave.com/

Registration form: http://www.shore-leave.com/registration/

Hotel info for the convention: http://www.shore-leave.com/hotel/

Science Fiction: Electronic Warfare and Cyberspace


When one writes futuristic science fiction–or any other science-related genre–one has to rely on modern scientific fact to support future fiction. Most science fiction story telling relies on conflict. Think Star Wars,  the Star Trek syndicates, Battlestar Galactica, Superman, Batman, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Armageddon, Stargate series, Twilight Zone, and many more.

So today’s lesson for fiction writers covers the current military electronic warfare environment for the U. S. military. All information comes from DefenseNewsTv.com’s “Electronic Warfare Roundtable.” Panel members are from different branches of the armed services.

Today’s military operates in a global environment with a need for 24/7 communication and control capacities. Electronic warfare, the primary tool of modern military action, is based on a cyberspace platform. Thus, the armed services recognize how intertwined the cyber community is with electronic warfare.

The various branches of service identify the following threats from enemy command and control operations:

Soldiers encounter field environments that differ from the norm to which they are accustomed. For example, the military is used to operating with nearly unlimited bandwidth. What happens to soldiers where bandwidth is denied or limited? The Navy panelist admits that, as a service branch, the Navy has let skills atrophy in the modern electronic surveillance and communication environment. The Navy plans to re-learn traditional skills to manage signatures in a non-electronic circumstance. It has to live up to its credo to “operate forward and be ready.”

The Army says it is responsible for enemy command and control, such as disabling enemy communications, sensors or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The Army panelist says he is most concerned by an enemy who is able to maneuver inside the electronic warfare spectrum and go undetected. A dangerous enemy can synthesize an existing system, then change software code and modify the Army’s systems remotely.

The Marines are proud of existing radio battalion systems on the ground. To improve the systems, the Marines want to marry their operations with resident capacities in the air.  However, they face an enemy that adapts quickly. The Department of Defense is scrambling to stay ahead of enemy capabilities.

The Air Force fears an enemy that uses the electromagnetic spectrum to destroy weapons systems.

The Air Force panelist says, “What keeps me up at night is the imagination and innovation of the adversary.”

Today there is a danger of turning commercial products into weapons. Cell phones operate on former military signals. A smart enemy leverages the commercially available technology to defeat or confound secret military technology.

So where is military strategy going? Thus far, the focus has been to give technology to the brigade commander for operations. In the future, overarching architecture will aid higher command authorities, too. Tactical assets and systems will be integrated across service branches. Finally, there will be a greater emphasis on speed–of adaption, of control, of meeting capacity.

Cooperation and synergy, through joint exercises and co-development of tools and technologies, is mandatory in the current fiscally austere environment.

Electronic warfare and cyberspace management is as much art as science. Listening becomes critical. Electronic surveillance will have to increase, as will service branches working together for better upfront planning.

I’m Off My Meds Again!


Listening to advice from friends, I am going to start other blogs to carry topics unrelated to writing, instead of clogging the space here. Since my favorite off-topic interest is off-the-wall stories in our modern or pop culture, the first new blog is called “I’m Off My Meds Again” and can be found at http://www.offmymedsagain.wordpress.com. It’s MY platform for MY craziness. If you love the world of abnormal, bizarre, whacko things, then you’ll love this space. If crazy talk isn’t your cup of tea, stay away!

More on Drones for Syfy Buffs


I clipped this from a forum on the subject. Since this portion from the chat gave a link, I am posting the remarks and the reference here. Those writing science fiction, futuristic or fantasy stories may find this information helpful.

Swarms of cyborg insect drones are the future of military surveillance

The kinds of drones making the headlines daily are the heavily armed CIA and U.S. Army vehicles which routinely strike targets in Pakistan – killing terrorists and innocents alike.
But the real high-tech story of surveillance drones is going on at a much smaller level, as tiny remote controlled vehicles based on insects are already likely being deployed.
Over recent years a range of miniature drones, or micro air vehicles (MAVs), based on the same physics used by flying insects, have been presented to the public.
The fear kicked off in 2007 when reports of bizarre flying objects hovering above anti-war protests sparked accusations that the U.S. government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/a…lance.html
After writing this post, I stumbled onto a humorous video about microbots, including a photograph of a mosquito-sized drone that can extract a DNA sample from a human covertly. As TheTrutherGirls says, “Get a fly swatter and screens!” Enjoy the video!
And just to feed your paranoia, here’s a video from a NSA whistleblower. He confirms the government’s program of domestic intelligence collection. Just think of all this stuff as research for your novel about nanobots and their nefarious controllers. :-p

Using Science in an Action Scene


Today I found the coolest video that shows what happens to boiling water when it is pitched into the air in arctic temperatures. It makes INSTANT snow. Cooler yet is the science behind it: hot water is easier to freeze than cold water. How’s that for defying logic?

According to Mike Krumboltz, writing for Yahoo’s quasi-news segment “The Sideshow:”

The man boiled water and then tossed it over the balcony of his apartment. Normally, that sort of thing would get you arrested. But in arctic-like temperatures, the result is quite beautiful. As soon as the man tosses his pot of boiling water into the freezing air, it turns to snow and leaves behind a trail of mist across the sky.

If you paid attention in high school chemistry, you might remember that boiling water freezes faster than cold water. Known as the mpemba effect, the phenomenon remains a mystery to many. Not even scientists can agree why hot water tends to freeze quicker.

I envision a bad guy on a high balcony trying to hurt the hero standing below in the snow. The fiend pitches boiling water at the man below him. The hero cringes, bracing for a scalding, then laughs and bounds through the snow veil into the building to apprehend the crook. What do you see?

To see the science in action, watch this video.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/boiling-water-turns-snow-siberia-171453719.html

The Psychology of the Sociopath as Minion


I’m obsessed with bad guys because I love writing about them. In order to write about them, I learn about them. I study where and how they live.

In science fiction or historical stories, there is ALWAYS the character that stands out for his willingness to oppress others on behalf of the boss. In exchange for doing the dirty work, the story’s minion receives a benefit, usually a modicum of power or an elevation of status or income.

The current TV character who comes to mind is Captain Tom Neville, played by actor Giancarlo Esposito. Neville is a former insurance adjuster turned militia leader under bloody General Monroe in TV’s saga Revolution. Neville will turn on his peers, getting them tortured and demoted, to advance himself. Yet he is fearful without the structure and protection offered him by Monroe.

As an author, it is important to be accurate when writing about the personality. Although the variety of personalities is numerous, the personality type is fairly fixed.

So what does psychology say about these overzealous minions? What are common traits among sociopath sycophants?

In the normal work-a-day world, he will likely screw-up regularly or use chaos to camouflage his childish character. He is seen as sleazy in the community or office. He will set aside morality or abandon principle if it is to his advantage to do so. He is drawn to a culture of corruption where questionable acts done on behalf of superiors advance his status.

Once he is given authority, he will demand respect from those under him, even if he doesn’t deserve it. He savors weakness in others. He will use title or force to exact submission from the weak under his jurisdiction. Show defiance to his authority and reap the consequences of his ire. He will abuse those weaker than himself.

There is no room for discussion or disagreement. It is his way or off with your head. In the face of reason, this minion will attack. Yet to preserve himself, he will avoid conflict with someone who may best him.

This character loves rules, regulations, and rigid structure. He seeks total control of his environment. He will twist the legal system to fit his own logic. He loves to force compliance on others.

Behind the facade of power, the sociopath minion is a follower, unable to operate without an elaborate system or leader to guide him. He is cowardly at his core: a follower, not a leader. The more bureaucracy clutters the landscape, offering him regulations to twist or hide behind, the better. He likes the smokescreen of obfuscation.

The minion draws his power from the ruling entity. Therefore, he supports the powers that be wholeheartedly. He disregards the rights or unique value of the individual. Control is easier to maintain in the absence of individualism. Therefore, he prefers the group mentality and will promote that sort of thinking. He cannot imagine functioning without an establishment to direct him. His self-identity comes from being part of it, not independent of it.

The sociopath as minion may wear a state uniform and wield power by turning in citizens for minor infractions of the rules. A tyrant or an oligarchy relies on him to grab and maintain control. He relishes being useful to and part of the machine. He is obsessed with continuing the power that gives him meaning. No bad act by those ruling will shake his devotion. He is a willing tool in the hand of his master.

Portions of trait description adapted from Brandon Smith of Alt-Market 

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.