Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

To everyone. In every timezone. Just pretend you're reading this at the right time.

Or I'll just borrow the TARDIS. Not like the Doctor can fly it right now, or at least he claims he can't.

Seriously...to a 2014 that was better than 2013, whether 2013 was terrible or fabulous for you. And if you're going out for some drunken revelry, be careful.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Doctor Who Christmas Special (SPOILERS)

Well, I only cursed Moffatt out...two or three times. That's a relatively low number. I know quite a few people don't like him, but I'm not in that group.

The episode's one real flaw is that it was a little busy - a bit too much crammed into it. That aside, it definitely had some classic Who moments.

And how did aged Matt Smith look like Hartnell? That was brilliant...and makes me wonder if it wasn't part of the plan when he was cast. With modern computer simulation...

And yes, the events in Name of the Doctor were time broken. I have a theory on that, which I'll list with my "theories" below. The Doctor was "supposed" to die at Trenzalore. In some ways he did.

One fan theory was disproven - River did not give the Doctor her remaining regenerations. I sort of liked that, but it wasn't a big deal. I know a few fans were annoyed that the "partial" regeneration counted, but hey...I think a full new set of 12 will last us a good while. (Rumors aside, I just don't see Capaldi only staying in the TARDIS for one year...and I think once he's stopped playing the main guy he'll stay involved with the show - he's a major fan and a highly talented director. I'd love to see him try things out on the other side of the camera).

Oh, and he had me at kidneys.


Two theories I'm going to put out there in writing:

1. Trenzalore. Broken timelines. Technically, Trenzalore was a fixed point thanks to the Doctor visiting his own tomb - so, how did they change it? My explanation: Clara. When the Supreme Intelligence jumped into the Doctor's timeline he was able to start unraveling it. Clara dived in after him, and because of that she (and only she) was able to change the Doctor's revealed future. Thus, when Clara asked the Time Lords for help, she was simply "running to save the Doctor" one more time.

2. Tasha Lem. Here's where I'm sticking my neck out.

This is the first time we've seen "Mother Superior" Tasha Lem, but the Doctor clearly knows her...and, of course, there's precedent for that. There's flirting and some sexual chemistry going on between them.

Her altar is a bed. Or her bed is an altar. And she clearly wants the Doctor in that bed, and one doesn't get the impression he's arguing that much. Which, as we all know...isn't exactly common for the Doctor.

It's the Church of the Papal Mainframe.

When she's fighting the Dalek takeover, the Doctor tells her she can do it because "you've been fighting the psychopath within you all this time."


My wild, out there theory.

Tasha Lem is, in fact:

River Song.

(Thoughts? Flames?)

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm back...

...safe and sound from Christmas "adventures." Okay, nothing much happened, but sometimes you kind of need to do not very much for a few days.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Updates

My story "Tapestry" was, in fact, accepted for the "Ways Of Magic" anthology from Deepwood Publishing. (The late announcement is because the internet gremlins ate some of my email, it seems).

Everything else is proceeding well, including "Maximus Orbital" (I can't wait to see the art!)

This will be my last post until a week on Monday - so please enjoy the holidays, however you choose to celebrate them.

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas

Happy Kwanzaa

Blessed Yule.

(And to anyone I missed).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Interesting Tech News.

Okay, things just got weird. And boozy.

Chemical signaling for text messaging? Using...evaporated vodka?

If I'd included this in a story I'm not sure anyone would buy it, although I do wonder how much information is really being passed around a beehive.

Either way, it's an intriguing experiment: http://www.rdmag.com/news/2013/12/researchers-send-world%E2%80%99s-first-text-message-using-vodka

In other news: Sequencing of the Neanderthal genome provides more evidence of crossbreeding between them and modern humans, but also evidence that they inbred. A lot. Perhaps their groups were smaller than humans - but the woman sequenced was probably the child of siblings. Or maybe they practiced brother-sister marriage in some situations? Who knows...I suspect if we could make a time machine, we'd discover Neanderthal society and customs to be just as wonderfully complex as our own.

Oh, and dogs can recognize their owner's face when projected on a television screen. So much for my dad telling me over and over that the dog couldn't really see the television and it was just coincidence that our border collie liked to watch "One Man And His Dog."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas planning

Is all of yours done? Mine is. Presents all bought (some of them months ago - I hate Christmas shopping and try to avoid actually going to the mall in December if I can), travel plans made.

Pretty soon, 2013 will be in the can, about which I have mixed feelings. I'm feeling a little, shall we say, old today. Sorry.

Ah well. Life goes on...and at least I got some interesting work done this year. Hoping to get even more sales and have even more fun in 2014.

For right now, though, do you have all of your Christmas presents or are you going to end up doing the Christmas Eve Scramble?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What Came First...

...the hand or the brain?

Our hands are unique. Apes, monkeys, even raccoons have hands, but they don't have hands like we do. We have the best hands - in fact, hands are part of what makes us human. There are structures in our hands that don't exist in, say, a chimp's hands.

Our hands are perfectly adapted for tool use. And we just pushed the modern hand back to 1.42 million years ago.

There's a theory that the hand may have come before the brain - that we actually evolved our complex brains and, ultimately, our intelligence, in order to better manage our clever hands.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Interesting Article.

Very interesting, and easy to understand, article from Space Daily about what alien life might really look like.

Science fiction writers tend to be conservative - because our aliens need to be something people can identify with or, in the case of some forms of horror, fear. So, even in written work, we tend to create recognizable aliens - often bipedal humanoids.

Not necessarily the case.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Updates

Nothing new this week, so just a reminder that my short story War Crimes is free on Musa Publishing through December 31. You have to get it from their site (and yes, you do have to make a purchaser account if you don't already have one - but you'll get a $5.99 gift certificate for your pains).

You can find it here: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=17&products_id=707

And, a very personal update - my cousin, Kevin Torrington, just told me that his wife, Kim, is expecting their first child - the due date is in late June.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One Step Closer: C/Fe Society

I'm not exaggerating...much.

Meet Valkyrie. It (she?) stands 6'2 and looks more than anything else like an Iron Man suit. It's designed that way so humans who work with it will be comfortable with the robot's presence. In fact, they are even giving it clothing.

More details will be announced on the 18th, but Valkyrie is, if it works as advertised, the first truly human-sized, humanoid robot capable of human-like tasks. It moves like a human and, rumor has it, can even drive vehicles. It's designed for search and rescue...but also to go to Mars ahead of human colonists so that when the squishy biologicals arrive they'll already have somewhere to live.

Valkyrie looks...I'm trying not to get too excited here...much like how the not fully humanoid robots in Asimov's work would appear. It's not going to be nearly that intelligent and will work in conjunction with human handlers...but it may also work alongside humans in dangerous environments. Troopers in Iraq are already mourning the destruction of bomb-sniffing robots. Valkyrie's almost human appearance might lead to an even greater emotional attachment.

Like, I don't know, a partner.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Because, Cute.

Because we all need cute every now and then - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rescue-centre-overrun-by-adorable-seal-pups-in-wake-of-record-flood-surge-8995541.html

And if you're in any position to help, please do. They're overwhelmed with adorable little babies...most of which aren't weaned. Seal milk is unusual in its composition and hard to make replacement for, so this is expensive.

And they're adorable. I don't normally do things like this, but really, baby seals...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Rush Limbaugh has been claiming the Pope has gone Marxist and "somebody has gotten to him."

I like the zinging response of a Huffington Post blogger who speculated that somebody has - Jesus.

Seriously. I'm not Catholic. I'm not even Christian. But it does seem our current Pope is determined to give his church and his entire religion a good name.

Lots of snow today.


Without sarcasm, there's a little bit of snow. Of course, DC is shut down, because three flakes is a blizzard around here. It almost reached "Christmas Card" before starting to melt. Ah well.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ice storm...

...well, sort of. It was definitely unpleasant yesterday and distinctly slippery this morning, but I've seen worse. Of course, this being fairly far south, many people think two inches of snow constitutes a blizzard.

Weather's very much a relative thing. If you aren't used to heat, 80 becomes a heat wave in which people collapse. If you aren't used to cold...

It's all in what you're used to - and that goes for society as a whole. We notice most of all things that are outside the norm, and don't notice the (sometimes crazy) rituals of our culture and subculture.

At least the ice is melting now...but it might re-freeze again overnight. Ugh.

Friday, December 6, 2013

South Africa

I well remember what first drew my attention to South Africa's existence - and its problems.

Her name was Zola Budd. She was one of the fastest female runners of all time, and notorious for training and racing barefoot.

She was a white South African who became a British citizen in order to compete in the Olympics. (Highly controversial at the time, these days athletes often country hop).

She could not compete as a South African because of the sanctions. Eventually she did, but she had lost her edge by that point.

I remember her because she made me realize South Africa existed. And she made me learn the word "Apartheid." I remember my father explaining it to me.

I remember the horror. Of my father's two closest friends at the time one, Ray Marx, was my de facto godfather (my official godfather moved away and lost touch). Ray Marx was one of the few true gentlemen I have ever known, by every definition of the world. I loved him almost as much as my real family. Ray Marx was a black man. Racism did not exist in my family - Ray was not the only black man to cross our threshold and be welcomed. My father had other prejudices; skin color was never one of them.

The idea of treating black people any differently was alien to me. And horrific.

It was only much later that the name "Mandela" truly entered into my consciousness - this was in the days before we all had the internet. Then he entered my awareness as a South African activist who got locked up for making too much trouble. Only on his release did I really grasp that this guy was more than just some random activist.

He walked out of prison and all but straight into negotiations with then president de Klerk. And he won. Plain and simple, he won. Only four years after his release, in 1994, he was the first black President of South Africa. He retired after a single five year term.

Not that he stopped - he spent the rest of his active life devoted to charitable causes.

His own people called him "Tata". Father. Now the world mourns him as the father of modern South Africa - a country which still has a long way to go, but which has moved past its institutionalized racism into the modern world.

For me? I simply respect the fact that after 27 years in prison, much of it spent in solitary confinement and working hard labor, and five years as President of his country, he made it to 95 and died of natural causes.

That's one tough man.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Man Of Steel Sequel...

...is going to have another hero. Wonder Woman. She's going to be played by Gal Gadot.

I don't have any experience with this actor, but I'm willing to give her a shot...although I'm not sure about the sequel itself. I liked Man of Steel, but my husband thought it was two hours of his life he'll never get back.

She's got the coloring except for having dark eyes - which I'm more than willing to forgive. She's got a distinctly Greek feel to her.

The one thing she doesn't have: Size. And that's causing a bit of a controversy.

On the one hand are the fans who are saying Gadot is simply too skinny to play the part. Or that she isn't, uh, well enough endowed.

On the other is the riposte from those who say this is body shaming.

What? Have we got so politically correct that saying we think somebody doesn't have the right build to fit our visualization of a fictional character is body shaming now?

I'm as against body shaming as anyone else, but the truth is - Wonder Woman is muscular, curvaceous, and tall. Gadot doesn't have the curves, although I'm sure she'll be spending some time in the weight room before filming starts (Actors do things like that for parts all the time). Doesn't mean she won't be able to pull off the role, but Lynda Carter she is not.

That's not body shaming. Nobody is saying anything is wrong with Gadot. They're just saying she doesn't, to them, look like Wonder Woman. I agree, but I'm flexible on the issue. Oliver Queen in Arrow doesn't look like Ollie was drawn pre Nu52 (Ollie has now been redrawn to look like the actor). And Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, anyone? She doesn't have to look like the comics character to "work."

But saying she doesn't look like the comics character is not "shaming" her. It's disagreeing with the casting staff. Big difference.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I'm not sure this was better than the first installment, as many people were saying - but it was certainly as good, and equally as disturbing.

My question now is how they will handle the third book. It's apparently being split into two films, in a recent (and, in my opinion, annoying) trend that seems to me to be primarily about selling movie tickets rather than art. (Then again, would I turn down a deal like that? Not sure...)

Mockingjay is much less visual and more psychological than the other two...there are some spectacular scenes, but it doesn't seem to be quite as "written for the screen." I also worry that people who haven't read the books will be horrified by just how dark this is - I've previously expressed my opinion that Hunger Games is not YA, and it becomes less and less YA as things go on.

On the topic of YA dystopias, Veronica Roth's Divergent is apparently going to be a movie. I haven't read this one yet, but may have to fix that. It looks intriguing.

Why yes, I'm an adult who reads YA. Nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Radiation Eating Fungi

Sometimes you miss something. This is from 2007 and somehow I missed it.

There's fungus growing in the Chernobyl reactor that's black...and fuels itself off of gamma radiation the way green plants fuel themselves off of sunlight.

It's apparently possible to use melanin to process gamma radiation. If an earth fungus can evolve to do this in a very short period of time (well within a human life time), then what might exotic life forms on other worlds do.

You could even have an entire ecosystem fueled off of radiation rather than light. Where there are plants there can be animals, after all. Such an ecosystem could exist deep underground in a "hollow earth" type scenario or in radiation-heavy parts of deep space. This kind of life form might grow on comets - most comets have plenty of water, which would still be necessary.

With proper genetic engineering, this fungus also has other possibilities. Could a variant be bred that will actually eat nuclear waste? Another suggestion would be to breed an edible form - which might be handy as a food source on deep space missions or in the initial stages of colonization.

And if one wanted to go really out there, could it be possible to engineer animals to pull the same trick? Maybe even...people?

Monday, December 2, 2013

News, News, News.

Yes, a special update post.

First a reminder that Transpecial is currently 50% off via www.musapublishing.com. If you already have it, check out some of Musa's other offerings. There's some really amazing romance over there, if that's what rocks your boat. Also, there are three free short reads - and there will be more to come over the next two weeks. Christmas Crossroad by Viki Lyn, The Silence of Reza by IJ Sarfeh, and The Break In by Carrie Russell are free today!



I've mentioned I had something in the works, and here it is. Production has started on Invasion! a new print, full color monthly comic from small press Emerald Star Comics.

It's an anthology book, with each issue containing three old fashioned sci-fi stories - the first lineup contains "Man Out Of Time," "Incursion" and "Maximus Orbital."

And guess who's writing Maximus Orbital. The release date is to be announced - we're still in production right now.

Oh, and Emerald Star will also be offering five other print monthlies - three "in house" (Lady Satan, The Eight Day (space marines for the win) and Nowati (Time traveler in the old west). The other two are creator-owned. Zombie Ever After - virus-based zombie apocalypse and Starburn, which has the only thing more cool than space marines. Space pirates!

I'm really excited about my involvement with this company and am hoping to see even more and better things in the future.