Saturday, April 21, 2012

25 years in the making

I just realized this morning that my upcoming novel, SACROSANCT, was "born" 25 years ago this year. It started as an art assignment in my 7th grade year at West Jr. High School.  The assignment was to imagine what the world of the future might be like.  Obviously, the story's gone through a lot of changes since I was 13 years old, but part of the basic premise, as well as character traits of some of the characters, are still in its current incarnation.

The book has gone through many iterations over the years, reflecting my growth as a writer and my discoveries of what the future may really have in store for us.  A big part of the reason why SACROSANCT hasn't seen the light of day so far is that I've never really been completely satisfied with the entire storyline.  I suppose that's typical of most writers; I doubt most writers are ever absolutely happy with how everything in their stories turn out.  This time is different, though, and I can't wait to finally shove SACROSANCT out the door and see how it does in the wild.

My son, who's shown creative urges in the past, is busy working on his own story of the future right now.  I'm not sure if I'm inspiring him or not, but I think it's interesting that he's the same age that I was when I first started coming up with the story that is now SACROSANCT.  I'm doing my best to encourage him; I'm very excited to be finishing my book and publishing it.  Who knows where his may take him?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Science Fiction and the Singularity

The technological singularity is a point in time coming sometime in the relatively near future in which we'll see the creation of superhuman intelligence through technological means.  Popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge (who coined the term) and futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil, the technological singularity presents a huge challenge to science fiction writers who want to tell stories about the future.

The very nature of the technological singularity means it's impossible to predict what life will be like once said singularity occurs.  Implications range from true artificial intelligence, with computers operating at faster speeds and greater efficiency than the human brain, to more advanced space travel, to the possibilities of incredibly long (possibly immortal) life spans for human beings.  Most science fiction taking place in the future hasn't truly dealt with the implications of the technological singularity, but that's not all that surprising.  Again, it's hard to write about something that's impossible to predict.

People have a hard time thinking about the possibilities of future technological advancement because our brains process such thoughts in a linear fashion.  But technological advancement doesn't happen linearly; it's exponential.

Most singularity proponents think the event will occur sometime in the 21st century.  Kurzweil, in his book, The Singularity is Near, puts the date around 2045, at which point he believes a $1000 computer will be a billion times more powerful than the combined sum of all human intelligence today.

My original plan was to set my upcoming novel Sacrosanct in the 22nd century (because, in my linear way of thinking, I didn't think technology would be at the necessary stage for the events of the book until at least 150 years from now), but after thinking about the implications of the technological singularity, I'll be moving the date up quite a bit.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

SACROSANCT

I just set up a Facebook page for my upcoming novel, SACROSANCT.  Check it out here.  There's not much there, yet, of course, but it'll be the go to place for info on its development, teasers, and publication info.

Glad I got this book at a bargain price...

As an atheist and freethinker, I try to check out any "big" books on the subjects, especially by big-name authors.  About a year ago, Divinity of Doubt came out, written by Vincent Bugliosi.  In it, Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted OJ Simpson, argues that agnosticism is the only sensible answer when it comes to the question of God's existence.

I don't even really disagree with that sentiment.  Not many people who call themselves atheists would even say that they KNOW that God doesn't exist, just that, given the evidence that we have, there's no good reason to believe that he/she/it does.  Most atheists would probably be agnostics, given Bugliosi's definitions.

I have two main problems (so far) with Divinity of Doubt.  Firstly, Bugliosi misrepresents atheism's top thinkers -- Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris.  In examining their major works on the subject of atheism (Hitchens' God is Not Great, Dawkins' The God Delusion, and Harris' The End of Faith), Bugliosi doesn't even seem to understand what they were trying to accomplish.  He seems disappointed that Hitchens and Harris aren't actually making an argument for atheism (they're actually just describing ways in which they think organized religion is harmful).  In the case of Dawkins, he most certainly makes his case for why he doesn't think there is a God; it's just that Bugliosi doesn't agree with that case.

Secondly, it's obvious that Bugliosi doesn't have even a basic, layman's understanding of evolution and cosmology.  Some of his statements on these subjects (which are of great importance in the God debate) are embarrassing, particularly when it comes to evolution.  He even uses the old creationist standby: "If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?!"  He does this while even quoting Darwin as saying that man and ape evolved from a common, ape-like ancestor.  In other words, nothing in evolution says we evolved from monkeys.

Most of the book seems to focus on why theism is an incorrect answer to the God question, and for his arguments there he's using many of the same tactics that actual atheists use to disprove the ideas and concepts of organized religions.    I haven't finished the book yet, so I may write more when I have.  Hopefully I'll get past the cringe-inducing scientific ignorance parts soon enough.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Procrastination

So, obviously I'm a writer.  That's kind of the whole point of this blog.  I write nonfiction articles for Examiner.com, for which I get paid (a little bit).  I've even had one paid fiction sale.  I've got a couple of dozen short stories in various stages of development, and the same can be said for a few novels.  But I have trouble finishing anything, and I'm just not that aggressive with marketing or submitting even the stuff that I have finished.

When I began realizing how easy it was to get your work out there with Amazon's Kindle publishing program (and programs from other e-reader makers), I was very excited.  Sure, I was worried my work might get lost among all the other self-published novels and short story collections out there, but I could worry about that after I posted it for sale.  The thing that excited me most was that I wouldn't have to go through the grueling process of submission to and rejection from major publishing houses.  And even if a book of mine was accepted for publication, it could take a year or more to actually see print from the mainstream publishers, many of whom don't even do much marketing for beginning novelists anymore.

Instant gratification, and the chance to market my work in the way I see fit.  What could be better?

Of course, reality set in, and I haven't to date produced anything that's ready for Kindle (or other e-reader) publication.  Why is this?

Part of it is other, non-writerly obligations.  I work a full-time job and have family commitments, but that's not the real reason.  I waste a lot of time on the Internet, visiting sites like 9Gag and Reddit, and posting funny stuff or anti-religion links on Facebook.  That's time I could be spending on writing, on working towards my eventual goal of being able to quit my day job.

So, this is me saying I'm going to turn over a new leaf (again).  From this point forward, I'm going to attempt to carve some time out of my silly Internet diversions for writing.  I have a vacation from work next week, and I'll be starting work on a novel that I hope to have finished in 90 days.  I will periodically update my progress here so that I can be cheered on or shamed into doing what I need to be doing. :)

Article roundup 4/10/12

My Examiner.com columns have seen quite a bit of activity lately.  Here's a list of my articles for each over the last week or so.

MMORPG
MMORPG news roundup for April 1
Felicia Day's new video channels says MMORPG players are cool
How to use World of Warcraft's new Scroll of Resurrection
Big events coming for Star Trek Online this week
Celebrate Noblegarden in World of Warcraft
City of Heroes Issue 23 enters VIP beta

Freethought
Zombie Jesus Day is April 8th
Pagan roots of Easter traditions
What happened on Easter?