Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Milkman’s coming: From Wichita

“Charles Koch’s ideal government is really no government. He was an Anarcho-capitalist.”  Daniel Schulman, author of Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, on the Daily Show last night.  “He believes private individuals can handle almost every function of society, basically eliminating the need for government.”

And here I thought The Milkman to be more thought experiment than predictive device.  Uh.  I could be a secret genius. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A window into my soul

The window of my office became a Rorschach test this morning.  I see my parents fighting.  I know it’s about me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Man vs. machine

True story.  Happened last night.  

The screw in the vending machine held on to the fun fruits. They would not drop into the bin. Nina finished her swimming lesson. She asked for a relatively healthy treat and there that sack hung. Taunting me. Of course, I had no more cash. It was a miracle at that $1 in the first place. I tapped the glass a few times, like they tell you never to do at the zoo. The fun fruits remained, motionless, caught on the tip of bag.

I did what any good father would do – I looked around, ensuring no witnesses, and rammed the machine with my shoulder. The steel and glass box rattled and banged the ground, blaring a kind of metallic thunder through the hallway. We were gonna get kicked out of this place. I almost ran for it. A spring inside the beast sprung, shooting snacks at the glass. They dropped to the tray below.

The fun fruits stayed pinched in place. The trough was filled with peanut-butter stuffed cheddar crackers. I knelt, removed one and handed it to Nina.

“Not what I was hoping for.” Nina opened the package.

I stared at the rest of the cracker packs. For a second. Then I scooped them all into her gym bag.

“Is that stealing?” Nina asked. She took a small bite of the bright orange snack.

I told her I was undecided.

“These are revolting.” She handed me the rest.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Alternascope Headlines

Dirty secret.  I have an alternascope.  Like magicians, science fiction writers don’t like to talk about craft secrets.  The alternascope is like an rss reader set for alternative universes.  We use them to start writing stories (see all DC and Marvel comics from the last 55 years) but mostly it’s fun to read headlines from other time lines.  Like today regarding the tragic death (not release) of POW Sergeant Bergdahl.

“It’s sad the Obama administration dragged its feet and our last man in Afghanistan had to die there.”  - Sen. Marco Rubio.

“We leave no one behind.  No matter what.” - Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My big idea

John Scalzi has been nice enough to let me guest post at his site.  I discuss the big idea behind The Milkman and how it wasn't what I thought it was going to be.  Like microwave ovens and penicillin, it was a happy accident.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Lockstep

Oddly enough, my review for Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep will be in lockstep with all the others.  This is a fascinating book.  It is the kind of novel that got me reading science fiction long ago, when you could pick up paperbacks at the drugstore for $1.95.  Not to say the book is dated.  Not at all.  The feel - the timbre and pace - of the novel are friendly.  This is not the kind of science fiction that is full of itself.  Although it could be.

The ideas seeded through the book are strong and plentiful, but it is the core idea that really infects you.  The Lockstep worlds of the title spend huge tracts of time in suspended animation.  One month awake for every 14 years asleep, for example.  During those 14 years, robots mine minerals, grow crops, re-glaze your windows, whatever, while you slumber away, unconcerned with the drudgery and more importantly, consuming only minimal resources.  You also get to sleep as you travel.  You can reach a fair number of other planets in 14 years, at half the speed of light.  You can reach even more in 28 years, which is only like being gone for two months, if all the worlds stay in synch.

I love playing with this idea.  Trying to understand its socio-economic perturbation better.  So does Karl.  He likes this world and it shows.  His adventure story that takes us through a world that is fresh and wondrous.  The result is thought-provoking fun.  You don’t see that phrase everyday.