Wednesday, May 30, 2012


All right, it'll be short cause I'm tired and depressed.

1) I've finished two short stories! Only three more to go (these are being written for mysterious reasons.)

2) I did my midterm for my summer course on Anthropology. I think I did great! We'll have to wait till next week to find out.

3) Ughhhhhhghghgh. The link says it all. I don't really have much to add except that you Christians really need to start kicking people out of your religion. There's an application form, right? There's some way to  disbar people, right?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dirty rebs!

"Now you must decide how many people you wish to save from death, and what supplies will be required to support them. Any mistake at this point will doom you and your colonists to certain death. Have a nice day."

These were the words that haunted my childhood. Not really, but it sounds like a good opener. This line, spoken by your sexy female AI (is there any other kind?) is the line that introduces you to challenge and choice that comes from playing Outpost.

Outpost, a game produced and released around 1998, is a turn based (that is, similar to chess) strategy game wherein you manage and grow an extrasolar colony from fledgling dome to colossal, sprawling dome city (which is to say, not similar to chess at all.)

It was one of the games that I played as a child growing up, which explains a lot. It was also balls to the wall sadistically hard. How hard? Well, let me count the ways.

If you did not mine enough materials, you died.
If you did not mine the right KINDS of materials, you died.
If you didn't smelt the materials you mined fast enough, you died.
If you didn't grow enough food, you died.
If you couldn't grow food due to the thick clouds over your planet, you died.
If you packed a solar power plant and the planet that you had colonized was 9 AU from the sun, you died.
If you didn't pack a solar power plant and your fusion power plant exploded, you died.
If you didn't make your colonists happy enough, they defected away from your colony to the DAMN DIRTY REBEL COLONY.

...and then you died.

But here's the kicker.

If you made your colonists extremely happy, made huge scientific breakthroughs, and ushered in a new era of peace, prosperity and good vibes...then you still died. Why? Because the aforementioned damn dirty rebel colony would collectively come to the conclusion that your leadership was so damn awesome that they would vote with their feet and trek from the rebel colony to your colony.

And then you'd find your residential units packed to 300% capacity, while rebel babies ate up spaces in schools for loyalist children, and rebels breathed your air, ate your foot, and drove up the costs of living for everyone.

Before you know it, you'd have a massive food gap and everyone starves to death and...yes, you guessed it!


Good thing if you pushed Control, F-4, your planet explodes.

There's no plausible scientific explanation for this.

But sometimes, it feels really satisfying.

And now you know part of how I ended up this way!

Friday, May 11, 2012

What if guns were cars?

WARNING: This blog-post discusses...politics. A more divisive topic I cannot fathom (save religion). And so, I feel compelled to put a caveat before all this, something I think everyone who ever discussed politics should: I can be wrong.

It's pretty simple. I'm not omniscient. Hell, I'm not even 30! These are just my opinions and if you disagree with them, I'm not only fine with it, I'm overjoyed. New ideas and new opinions have to be tested in the crucible of public opinion, tempered with facts, and sharpened by constant thinking. The instant a political thinker becomes threatened by dissent is the instant they've started the slide from freedom to despotism.

And now, without further quibbling, let us get to a very important political topic: GUNS!

As an semi-anarchist, guns are a really divisive topic for me. On the one hand, the old idea goes thus: Only a well armed public can defend themselves from the predations of the minority and other governments. With a well armed public, you don't need things like cops and armies. But, of course, the counterargument to that are plentiful and well reasoned.

1) People don't want to act as their own defenders all the time
2) Guns are inherently dangerous and risky, especially when children are involved
3) Trained professionals are required for certain specialist activities, and policing is one of those activities

And so on.

This is why I'm a "semi-anarchist". I believe there is a place for the government, and the trouble is deciding what that place is. There are some things I'm fairly sure on (the government definitely shouldn't tell me what to drink, eat, smoke, have sex with or marry) and things I'm less sure on (the government might have a reason to help with welfare or medical care, it might be that a centralized power structure is better for providing those needs and less rapacious than private interests like pharmaceutical companies).

But that doesn't mean I don't think that the civilian population can and should get into. If we could localize some things, it'd make things easier for everyone as local solutions to local problems can be tailored and fit to the area.

How does this relate to guns?

Well, imagine - if you will - a world where everyone in the USA is armed. Gay people, straight people, white people, black people, women, everyone. Would rape be as horrifyingly common? Would crime? Would political and social attacks on women and minorities be as accepted if they all had guns?

That's a complex question, but I think it would do SOMETHING to help. It wouldn't be a - for lack of better term - "silver bullet", because I'm not stupid enough to say, "If all women had guns, rapes wouldn't happen", but I am willing to imagine that if we had a culture that understood and accepted that pretty much every woman wasn't just carrying a piece but knew how to use it, then maybe there'd be less idiots who think that women are their property to do whatever they want to and maybe less little boys would grow up to be racists.

But even if that's true, I can hear you say, how do we deal with the number one problem with guns: They are INHERENTLY DANGEROUS. All it takes is one kid to play with Daddy or Mommy's gun and things go wrong in a depressingly permanent way.

Well, I was thinking about that and this led me to this blog post: What if guns were cars?

Imagine an alternate world, a world where in the 1900s, a manufacturer of personal sidearms (lets call him Dord) begins producing a cheap, uniform pistol called the Model-P. It becomes popular, especially considered the violent crime rates at the time. Soon, everyone has a Model-P and over the next hundred years, guns become as common as cars. Kids grow up wanting them, parents have at least one or two, and a culture and set of rules have grown up around them.

In this alternate world, Dord spawned copycats and competitors, all trying to catch your eye with new guns that are smaller, or bigger, or longer ranged, or more accurate. But then comes the 1960s, and people have begun to realize that a lot of folks are getting killed needlessly because guns are just not that safe. So, over the next fifty two years, there are unprecedented improvements in gun safety. Guns become not just bigger or harder hitting: They become smarter and more intelligent.

So, the gun of this alternate 2012 is a computerized gun. It doesn't fire unless it's under a very specific circumstance, it's munitions self destruct harmlessly when they go off target, it's linked to the internet so that the owner can track it, shut it down, or control it. It might even connect to the local police so that (when drawn) it signals a cop car that an altercation is going down unless a "all clear" signal is sent.

And moreover, people have become used to the fact that everyone carries. It's a non-issue, in the same way that we in the real world don't think about the fact that every day, millions of people drive two ton machines down roads at sixty miles an hour, all so close to one another that you could reach from one and touch another, and yet only a vanishingly small percentage of those machines actually collide and only a even smaller percentage of those collisions end with fatalities.

Would this world be better or worse?

I don't know...but I like to think it might just be a touch more independent and free. Because I honestly think that any culture with that many guns would need to...really come to terms with the idea that everyone around them is willing - at any second - to put their lives on the line to defend their fellow human being. The alternative way of thinking (that, at any second, everyone might kill everyone else) is too unbearable to survive and strikes me as an unlikely evolution for the culture.

I don't think guns are a panacea. But I do think that the ability to defend yourself from aggressive parties - even symbolically - is worth something.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


And with a final button press, I had finished my Native American Literature essay, which included one reference to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and ended with a call to arms: We need to travel back in time and assassinate Andrew Jackson before it's too late.

Thus, my college education ends (at least for now), and all I have to do is wrap up a single final and then head home for a well deserved, relaxing vacation at home before coming back up for summer school. But that's all boring stuff that no one cares about: Lets instead talk about everyone's favorite thing ever: Writing!

Writing news has never been more exciting. Sometime next week, my beta-readers will get back to me on Debris Dreams sequel - Shattered Sky. In the near future, I will get to do a guest blogspot (hopefully!) and the sketch of my novel's cover will hit the internet like a face-full of sexy, awesome buckshot. And in the interim, I am splitting my working time between Luna's Lament (which has required a great deal of research in underwater weapons, oddly enough) and looking through an older idea of mine: A Rat's Tale!

A Rat's Tale was an idea that struck me while re-reading an old webcomic called Sluggy Freelance (14 years old and going strong!) wherein the main characters are shocked when their lame friend, Sam, turns out to be a FREAKING VAMPIRE. It was a legitimate shock and marked a turning point in the comic, for me at least, when I realized it had real story arcs and not just a series of throwaway (but funny!) jokes. And it lead to one of my favorite lines ever.

The scene: Our heroes have been captured by a clan of vampires and are forced to watch two other people be transformed. The man becomes tall and muscular, while the woman becomes...statuesque, to say the least. One of the main characters comments, "Wow, you should sell that on prime time TV."

To which the vampire's leader responds, "Do you really think humans will sell their immortal souls just to be beautiful and skinny without having to work" And then she turns to her assistant, who says, "I'm already scheduling the infomercial."

And so, A Rat's Tale takes place in the near future. Humanity has discovered that "metahumans" (or mets) live amongst them, and have for thousands of years. Vampires and a plethora of lycanthrope types (were-bear, were-wolf, were-cat) are real and are ready to become legitimate. Initially, things were tense, but an artificial blood supplement has made vampirisim sustainable on a large scale. Suddenly, becoming a bloodsucker is the hippest fashion choice, and the best health plan available: You never age, are hard to kill, and look awesome.

For those who can't afford (or don't want to give up sunlight) vampirism, there is lycanthropy and a suitable drug that inhibits the wild frenzy of the Lunar cycle. Of course, there is a downside to each animal type: Werewolves are not immortal, but they do live a long time. Werebears live shorter lives, but they're stronger and larger.

And finally, if you are strapped for cash and absolutely have to become a met (for example, if you have inoperable brain cancer or want to live an extra century) you can go for the "economy" version of metahumanity: The were-rat.

But not is all as it seems. Our heroine - a teenage street urchin named Qiwi - happens to stumble on a information trade gone wrong. A shootout occurs, and Qiwi is left bleeding to death. When she wakes up, she finds that a black market doctor has "saved" her by turning her into a were-rat. Needless to say, she's not happy...and she's even less happy when she finds that her witnessing the assassination has brought her under fire as well. But even as Qiwi struggles to escape the threat, she learns that the fate of the world may hang in the balance...conspiracy, murder and a bid for global domination all await in the telling of A Rat's Tale.

I thought it sounded neat, at least.

Still, I should really get back to studying for my Wish me luck!