A Couple of Science Fiction Prompts For You All

Isaac Asimov used to say that the best science fiction, if done correctly, illuminated the human condition. Just as scientists keep an eye on the latest developments and ponder what new discoveries lie ahead in future research, lately I have been looking at the world we live in today with all its various problems and thinking about what it fill be like for future society. It has given me a few ideas for some discussions, and since they involve the future and current changes and progress (or lack of) in today’s social climate they can accurately be called science fiction, as they deal with change.

I offer them here freely while acknowledging that

a) they might have been done by others already. With the vast amounts of stories and novels already written, not to mention those already being written, it’s impossible to get to them all, and

b) I have no current intention of using them myself. My own writing interests in the SF field primarily lie in military science fiction and space opera. If someone else uses any of them before I write my own story, I can refer them to this blog entry to show that I came up with the idea (at least on paper) first. Even then, I think these are so broad that many writers could make use of them even in passing without having to accuse one another of plagiarism.

All that being said, and thank you for putting up with my rambling once more, here is what came to me while I was out walking the chihuahua:

1) I envisioned a time not too long from now where broken homes not only begin to number those of the happily married, but that it has become such a socially-acceptable predicament that people by and large will brush aside families with both parents as old-fashioned with maybe even a little contempt in their opinions. I foresee classrooms filled with kids who live with only one parent who pick on and look down on kids who have both a mom and a dad living in the same house (or two moms and two dads, whatever might be their individual situation). Also, there are already numerous stories of petty women who have kids solely to receive child support checks. For many single moms and dads with children, the monthly check from the other parent is another small source of revenue for them that they couldn’t get if they were married to the spouse. Same thing with alimony. I don’t wish to presume that pettiness and sheer greed will infect a majority of future parents and couples, but it’s something that I can see increasing all the same, if only by a little bit.

Indeed, this broken homes prediction leads to my second point:

2) Marriage will become archaic. The original primarily sole purpose of marriage was the creation of children. It had very strong religious regulations attached to it, which is why divorce was for so long a shameful predicament to find oneself in and was illegal except for extreme circumstances in many places up until very recently. Now that people are quickly turning away from religion, either abandoning it all together or at least are not adhering strictly to principals as years past I see more and more people choosing not to get married. After all, it’s an expensive process. You have to apply for and pay for a marriage license, you more often or not have to pay either the court or a minister to marry you. The social expectations for weddings and honeymoons make both extraordinary joy expensive for most people, I see our increasingly-lazy population eventually not choosing to go through the hassle and expense. It is not illegal to have sex and have children before marriage, and if you live together long enough it becomes a common-law marriage anyways. Why would someone who prefers to blow money on lavish things at the expense of more important things choose to get a marriage license and tie the knot?

3) I mentioned in the previous idea that it is currently perfectly legal to have children. More and more kids under age 16 are getting pregnant and having babies, a further sign of the diminishment of moral values (in many cases) than previous generations. I’ve gotten a sour feeling lately that certain very liberal areas such as California are trying very hard to make the government more powerful in the reading and education of children than the parents are. It would not surprise me one bit if someday they try introducing legislation requiring potential parents to acquire licenses in order to have children. It is an extremely long shot, in my opinion, but at the same time it very well could be a reality. Take the process of adopting a child from an adoption agency, for example. It’s not a license, per se, but the caseworkers conduct extensive interviews, background checks, home visits, house inspections, and supervised visits before a decision is made whether or not to allow an individual or couple to adopt. And it is an EXTREMELY expensive process. The cost exponentially increases when attempting to adopt a child from overseas. Conceiving your own child, on the other hand, is not nearly as bureaucratic and expensive (or so I, one without children, have been told) as adoption and without any big legal mess. If fascist politicians get wind on the opportunity for increased revenue from birthing licenses and the possibility of population control (may future generations condemn me if any dictator gets this idea from me) then I see such laws going into effect. Then the children will essentially be the offspring of the state, not the parents who made them.

As with all problems, recognizing that this shit can happen and taking steps to prevent them is always possible. Unfortunately unless God himself makes an entrance as He did you in the Old Testament and shakes today’s people to their bones and makes them fear the fires of Hell, most people will I think be perfectly content with letting the world around them fall apart until one day they look back in regret that things have become the way that they are and start looking for people to blame. Little will they realize that they have only themselves to point the finger at. I really hope that none of these items come to pass, and that this is simply a Dark Age for humanity that we will eventually overcome. Part of me is confident that future historians will be in a position to look back at us ancient Americans and ancient Earthlings and scoff at us for our negligence barbarous ways.but part of me is also half-confident that there will be no future historians to look back at us.

I wonder which is the best case scenario?

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Six Days of Novel Writing

Today I very easily cranked out another 550 words of the book. In total, I think I have a little over 3000 words done.

I’m doing most of the writing on my phone, and I find that I’m actually writing faster and a bit easier than using my computer. I wish I had learned of the Google Docs app years ago. I always confined myself to writing at my desk, so whenever I was busy with work and had no time to get on the computer, no writing got done. Same with blogging and the WordPress app.

I can’t believe tomorrow will be one whole week since I started writing the thing. It’s been way too long since I’ve spent a week writing any kind of fiction, and over five years since I was so dedicated to writing a novel.

Progress.

The Other John S.

In 2011, I began to be interested heavily in writing science fiction and began doing research, discovering many of the legendary masters along the way as well as the existence of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). It’s president at the time was an author I’d never heard of before, and one that you’ve seen me write a lot about on here–John Scalzi (the other John S.).

His brief biography of the SFWA website mentioned his long-running blog, “Whatever”, and after a few days of reading through that site and getting to know him and his work better I decided to take the plunge and become a blogger myself. As I’ve written many times, the first and many of my successive efforts were short-lived, but it gave me the foundation for what eventually became CrapPile. He was the first blogger I ever read, let alone became a regular subscriber to, so much of my blogging style and subject matter (I.E. whatever) I got from him.

Despite the similarities in style and humor and the I don’t give a damn what you think attitude we both apply to our blogs, I am far from a Scalzi copycat. In fact, we couldn’t be more opposite, not counting being white heterosexual males with dark hair and glasses who blog and write science fiction. He is very much a liberal whereas I am more of a conservative-leaning moderate. He is very strict when it comes to communications and commenting, whereas I don’t care what you do so long as it’s legal and non-threatening. I have always had a problem with myself esteem so I’m always humble; Scalzi is a bit egotistical. He’s also one of the most intelligent writers I have ever read, putting his philosophy major to very good use. I, on the other hand, do not have the experience for too in-depth intellectual conversations (though that is slowly changing thanks to my Ray Bradbury-inspired reading program). And of course, he is a Hugo Award-winning novelist, essayist, short story-writer, musician, blogger, game writer, and many other professional things that a young nerd like myself have always dreamed of being. And he’s married with a daughter, my two biggest dreams currently unfilled.

In the writing world, he has written too many things to count: The Old Man’s War series that served as my first fictional Scalzi experience, Redshirts (that I have autographed by the man himself), a remake of H. Bean Piper’s Little Fuzzy, several blog entry collections (one of which he also signed for me), and many, many more.

His story is the classic dirt poor to bestselling author story. He knew what his dream was, he worked for it, and now is one of science fiction’s leading talents. Several times he has answered emails from me giving me valuable (yet insanely brief) advice on various topics. He was directly the inspiration for a blog post I wrote for Amazing Stories on what an aspiring writer should be reading.

Only 49 as of this writing, barring tragedy he still has many fine years of writing ahead of him for the world to enjoy. It is my prediction that should he live long enough and catastrophe doesn’t bring civilization to its miserable knees and it still exists, that someday he will be awarded the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from SFWA. He pretty much is one already.

John, may your mallet or loving correction never become too heavy to bring down on those who deserve a thorough whack.

Can He also Ride a Porcupine?

A cute little true story for you all. This is a big reason why I became a writer

Ben East Books

Two weeks ago (yes…) I visited my son’s second grade class. I read to them from my current work in progress, a novel soon to be presented IHO Mohan’s eighth birthday.

Before I finished the hands were up and all the mouths were saying ‘Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!’

They had plans for my principal foil, a character named Cowboy Herold sent to the office for riding a horse to school.

‘Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Can he also ride a chicken? Can he also ride an ostrich?’

There were about a dozen electrifying suggestions during an intense discussion of the possibilities for the Fifth Grade renegade, Herold Woodley, castigated by Principal Tuckler for parking his horse in front of the school (everyone knows horses aren’t parked, Principal Tuckler).

Could he ride a bull? Could he ride a pig? Could he ride a chicken?

Could he ride a vampire chicken?

I had to…

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Revisiting the Kalos Region

(For all you Pokémon fans out there)

As a reward for helping him do some stuff a couple weeks ago, a buddy of mine gave me an old Nintendo 2DS of his, along with Pokémon Y. Having been a HUGE Pokémon fan since I was 8 or 9, I was stoked!

Between work, writing, the gym, and getting ready for vacation in a couple weeks I haven’t played as much as I normally would, but getting back into Pokémon after almost a year away from it is such a good feeling.

I’m not going to get into the basics and fundamentals of Pokémon in this article–maybe someday I will write about it for those who are clueless about the games. However, I will say that I vaguely remembered how I played when I first got X and Y a few years ago and thought I’d take a trip down memory lane.

I chose to start with Froakie (the water starter) as I did the first time, but after a few hours decided to start a new game with Chespin (the grass starter). This actually ended up working to my advantage in a way because when I started Wonder Trading I ended up getting a Froakie, as well! Even better, I really lucked out and received a shiny Swinub! The Ground-type is my favorite of them all, and both ice and ground-types are rare at the beginning of the Kalos games so to have a dual-type that is also SHINY really made me a happy camper.

Even though I’ve been playing technically for hours, I have yet to even reach the forest. I’ve spent most of my time Wonder Trading back and forth, and multi-tasking between texting my gf, Facebook, YouTube, the blog, and the novel. On top of both my phone and 2DS on my chest as I lie here in bed, I also have three books beside me on the floor for the Bradbury Program.

This is how a geek adult rolls.