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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Been a while, I know.

Brasilia sits here on my virtual & actual desktops… waiting for my attention. With my house collapsing on us (wish I was joking), it’s been a stressful 2014. Anyway:

Health

I had my 15 year appointment a few weeks ago with my surgeon. Before the visit, I told myself I was just fine and that part of my life was now over. Sure-as-shit, after 15 years, my surgeon told me ‘goodbye,’.

Needless to say, we celebrated with food & chocolate.

Games

As y’all know, I also make games. We are currently in a Kickstarter for our first board game and all the details can be found here.

Check it out!

Writing

I also wrote a short story to go along with the game mentioned above, you can find that for free on Smashwords here. Amazon is hopefully going to make it free as well soon, that link is here. (it will be free Wednesday-Sunday on the Kindle store this week)

Brasilia

As I mentioned, it will get my attention, I’m just not sure exactly when. It is written, I just need the time & energy to edit it a buncha times.

 

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Well, it’s just a budding theory about how “life” is formed (article link at the end), but if you’ve read Babylon – you might have picked up on my hints surrounding this topic. In fact, from this new theory, more people may finally coming around to my view of our universe:

“He is making me think that the distinction between living and nonliving matter is not sharp,” said Carl Franck, a biological physicist at Cornell University.

Well, yeah, Mr. Cornell… Get on board with me already!

Eden & Babylon (and beyond) are certainly my attempts to explain my thoughts on life & our world through the best medium I know how. (I’m not about to hit school for another 4-6 years to get a degree) Hey, Science – go look at my publication dates! I’ve felt, for a long time now, that the simple categorizations of alive/not-alive (and the associated mindsets which come along with that distinction) are inherently “off”. Wrong on some level.

Maybe that’s why I still need science in my life – to support what I’ve already been trying to articulate in my fiction. Would it blow your mind to discover that seemingly “not-alive” things exhibit “life” in the same ways we do, at a 2nd-law of thermodynamics level? Swirling liquid can self-replicate. Snowflakes and sand dunes follow and internal building order/structure not much unlike how life builds upon itself into a complex organism.

“Hippies” were sometimes referred to as “tree-huggers”. Well, I guess I’m a “dirt-hugger”? A mountain may cause the landscape on the other side to turn arid, supporting all the life and “not-life” qualities which abound in that environment. Yet, who thinks of the mountain as “alive”? … Nobody except me? You see, just because we cannot perceive intent, awareness, free will, self-defense & feeding patterns doesn’t mean that mountain isn’t important. Valuable. Serving a purpose. Aware. I argue that it most certainly IS, we’re just not keen enough or attuned enough to understand.

Yup, pretty outlandish, right?

Well, prove me wrong! Until we understand all the mysteries of the universe (or universes… or the “world” beyond our universe… or the realities beyond that), there is just no way to be certain about anything. Science tries its best with experimentation, observation & theorizing. Religion attempts to cater to the human condition by offering something science cannot – a “reason” or a “place” to call home for the soul (or whatever label you wish to attach to that part of yourself you cannot explain… hmmm… another blog post on that topic someday?) So, are my views more akin to “religious” views since they aren’t based on much beyond my “gut” feelings about the world around me? (not to belittle Religion, but this is clearly where many religions have originated, and I don’t view that as a negative whatsoever)

Years ago, perhaps I would agree with that postulation. Now? As science keeps corroborating my gut feeling? As I read more philosophy (classical and modern) which aligns with views? I dunno…

Centuries ago, some groups of people enslaved others because they thought little for those other groups’ humanity. Decades ago, we thought women inequal (and that sentiment continues in some cultures). We now give rights & protection to some mammals and other animals.

What’s next? Plant rights? Dirt emancipation?

What is the logical evolution of our awareness & tolerance for how we interact with our world? Where are the lines drawn? (At mammals because they are most like us? At all “living” things? What if a snowflake exhibits “life”? What is reasonable?)

And my last question: At what point do we just accept the big “what is”? And what will that mean for moralists, “leaders” and cultures as a whole?

… yes, this is what swirls around in my brain on a daily basis. You are welcome. 🙂

(the full article is here)

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You go, Chris Roberts!

Before I explain the title, here’s a story from my childhood:

I was in junior high (“middle school” for you non-New-Englanders) and I had kinda grown up on my Atari game system, arcades and (later) my Apple IIc.

Sometime during those wonder years I met a friend with a PC:  a 486 Windows 3.something. And he had Wing Commander. I hadn’t played anything quite like it, and I’m not sure anyone had. It was a quasi-3d space shooter which had so much more. The storyline won’t knock yer panties off, but the game had a storyline! This was revolutionary back then.

Storyline PLUS great gameplay = I rode my bike 3 miles after school to go watch my friend play this game. I eventually did play (and got my own PC), but this game shaped all my future gaming in so many ways. Wing Commander was the benchmark by which I measured many other games that came down thru the years (even non-space-sims). Between this game, Pool of Radiance and Railroad Tycoon, my gaming pedigree was established.

The man behind Wing Commander kinda disappeared for a while. But now he’s back.

And he’s crowd-funding his next project.

Watch his video explaining the project. He talks about how he could have signed with a publisher (with his street cred, publishers line up for him), but he doesn’t necessarily agree with current publishers’ visions of the future of gaming. He wanted to retain control of his own project and develop it for his beloved platform: PC.

God damn, we live in an exciting time! I see projects getting “crown funded” all the time on sites like Kickstarter nowadays. Creative people with great ideas can see their projects come to life and succeed/fail based on their own merits – rather than on some gatekeeper’s whim (sound familiar?). To see this sort of “do it yourself” invasion spread across many aspects of life today is truly inspirational. We self-published writers might have the best toolset of them all (Amazon, ’nuff said), but sites like Kickstarter and Gamecrafter are spreading the revolution into other creative avenues.

Bravo to these pioneers. And Bravo to Chris Roberts. I’ll be happily funding your project and eagerly await the release of Star Citizen (or whatever you call it in the end).

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Post-Apoc on TV!

I’m talking about NBC’s Revolution, of course, which premiered on Monday. Post-apoc? On semi-primetime TV? Sweetness. Let’s dive in!

Things I liked:

  • Post apoc on TV/film is quite a rarity throughout the history of that media. Nice to see!
  • Neat science. I haven’t done research on electromagnetic waves and how they could knock-out our technology, but it’s certainly a fun topic to delve into. Reading the FAQ on iMDB.com, it seems like the idea is that “something else is afoot.” Being a sci-fi writer, I certainly don’t have a problem with that, and even welcome it.
  • Female midriff… yeah, I went there.
  • Post apoc scenes (though entirely too clean, like NYC in Newsies)
  • I kinda trust Bad Robot and many of the production peeps on this series

Things I’m not so sure about:

  • Did they say they were close to Chicago? I musta missed it if they did. But they kinda “warped” to Wrigley field and I had no sense of the length of their journey. Length of journey is kinda important in post apoc (see: The Book of Eli, Eden, Waterworld, etc etc). What? Did I just pimp my own shit AND mention Waterworld in the same note? Insanity…
  • Everyone is so clean and pretty… sigh. I guess it’s a necessity in today’s film & TV… even in a high fantasy, medieval or post-apoc setting.
  • Satellites must be in the sky, or else that end scene t’aint makin’ any sense!
  • Not so sure on the main character yet (despite my “like” of her midriff)
  • I know next to nothing about the captured brother, which makes it difficult to care if he lives or dies at the hands of Gus Fring (that was Gus, wasn’t it? He’s so fabulous.)

So… will I keep watching?

Fuck yeah. The show isn’t a Breaking Bad or a Firefly, but it’s the only post-apoc fare besides Walking Dead right now. I’ll take what I can get! 🙂

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So, my yearly binge of “Zero-G chair-sloth” & reading fiction has come to an end. I managed 2.5 books – and one of those books was pretty massive. I DO have minor spoilers in my reviews, so stop reading now if you don’t like to be spoiled. Anyway:

Lord Foul’s Bane, by Stephen R. Donaldson

This was recommended by a friend & colleague a few years back. Seeing as how I finished it, I can say I’m grateful for the recommendation.

We start the story with a leper living in what I can only assume to be America in post Depression, maybe pre-WWII era. He’s on his way to the Bell Telephone company to pay his phone bill. While that may not seem noteworthy, it actually *is* noteworthy for our “hero”: Thomas Covenant. As a leper, his community has tried to ostracize him – going as far as paying all his bills and arranging his groceries to arrive at his house – all in an effort to keep him out of town and out of mind for his fellow citizens. He finds out that he cannot pay his bill because it is already paid through the year. Defeated, he crosses the street and gets hit by a police car.

And awakens in a magical realm. He finds his leprosy waning and he knows it’s just a dream. So much time is spent by the author on the topic of leprosy, and how Thomas takes extreme measures to cope with his disease. Thomas believes his mind is assaulting him, trying to give him false hope. His defense mechanisms have kept him alive for many years – so he cannot afford to “believe” his dream. He knows he’s in a hospital somewhere and he also knows he only has 1 chance to awaken with his mind intact: he cannot believe the very believable dream.

So, he names himself “The Unbeliever” to the people in his dreamland. They expect him to save them from the great evil – Lord Foul. But Thomas only goes along with everything because he feels he must “go through the motions” of the dream in order to reawaken on the other side. So embarks a fantasy journey to defeat a great evil and recover an item of power — pretty standard fare. With the twist of Mr. Covenant, of course.

I liked this story, mostly because Thomas was an interesting & believable character. I liked the play between the seeming “reality” of Thomas’s new world and his resistance to the people and events around him. I found the whole experience personally touching, because I did the same thing when I was in a coma after my cancer surgery. Unfortunately, I hadn’t the time to build the defense mechanisms Thomas had from his years of leprosy. But I certainly slipped into some very believable “worlds” during my coma and subsequent morphine haze which lasted almost a month. I found the lines between what we call “reality” and my own dream worlds to be quite blurry. And at the end of it all, I actually forgot who I was for at least a few hours (maybe a few days). I was aware of my own body, but all sense of “self” was completely erased until I slowly recovered my sense of self-awareness. Until that moment, I was simple existing in my skin, a personless bag of skin & bones.

And the author captured that struggle perfectly. The main character knew his fate would have been like mine, and that in his weakened leprosy state – it would kill him or send him over the edge of insanity. Brilliant work, really.

One more note: This author is a freakin’ master at metaphors & personification. I wish I had written them down as they dazzled me – but alas, I had only thought of that after I had finished.

The Illearth War, by Stephen R. Donaldson

After Lord Foul’s Bane, I proceeded to The Book Barn in Niantic CT to pick-up the next book in the series. $1 paperbacks, baby!

Unfortunately, I only made it about halfway through this book. Though we delved into other points of view in Lord Foul’s Bane only a few quick times – I wrote it off as nothing to worry about. However, in this book we spend long stretches with other characters… and that bothered me. I was having fun along with Thomas and his unbelieving – and I personally identified with that story element. And it got taken away from me.

So, I put the book down and frowned – all my enjoyment went down the drain. It was a personal decision and doesn’t reflect the quality of the work at all. Great book – it just took a turn I personally couldn’t follow.

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

It’s kinda funny that my summer was full of Fantasy books… and I rarely read fantasy these days. Anyway, this one also came under a friend’s recommendation.

At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. A vast majority of the book is character back story – the main character is telling a historian about his roots.

Blarg. Boring.

… But it WASN’T. Quite the opposite. I was engrossed once I gave it a chance. Mr. Rothfuss is a talented storyteller. Kvothe is an amazing character. Kvothe’s world is masterfully built, follows its own rules and enthralled me.

What’s extra-cool about this book is: it flies in the face of all the “conventional” fiction writing wisdom. Blowhards (me included) who try to dole out advice will tell you that a “back story” book would never work.

Anyway, I’m glad to see it succeed so brilliantly. If you thought you “might have liked” Harry Potter, but didn’t like it – go read this. If you like character-driven fantasy – go read this. If you like well-written, clever fiction – go read this.

So that rounds it out! As a full-time consultant, part-time writer, near-full-time gamer and full-time dad/husband — my “reading time” is always limited. Camping gives me a chance to “unplug” and read some books… so, I’m grateful and I hope y’all had a great summer!

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Where has Matt been? Abducted? Dead in a ditch somewhere? Lost in time & space? Fighting Loki’s forces in NYC?

Hardly.

I’ve been soundly in the grip of a creative storm. Well, several storms. I wrote over 25k words in a disgustingly short time about 2 months ago – that was one storm. Then, riding up on that was yet another storm on a different project (not even gonna go there on the blog yet). So… yeah… I’m still here.

While thinking about the past several months, I keep getting stuck on this idea of “creative storms.” I know we’ve all heard some variation of these:

“Write what you know.”

“Build your brand.”

“Don’t quit your day job.”

To all of that, I say: “hogwash.” Why? Because I don’t buy recycled advice any longer. Lemme explain.

You see, I always thought of myself as a very analytical person. Artsy crap was for artsy people. I never thought of myself as “creative” (and I’m sure some people would tell me I’m *still* not creative… bah – feck you, Billy). Anyway. After feeling like I’d burst if I didn’t get an idea, paragraph, page, game concept or some other creative construct out of my brain and into a more tangible form — I’m starting to believe in this idea of a creative storm. I’ve heard many a writer say they write “because they have to,” and then they go on to spout about “building their brand.” And by that, I mean – write within their chosen genre/series/whatever until their hand falls off. Many writers believe it important to build their audience and fiction in that way.

And I guess that’s all fine and dandy for writers.

But what about those of us who genuinely feel seams bursting with the need to create? If we were to call ourselves “Writer,” then what do we do when some other creative endeavor eclipses all else? Follow it? Or, do we abandon it in favor of building our brands and writing what we know?

And those are the questions which are easy to answer for me: ride out the storm. Embrace it. Turn my head towards the falling rain and smile. How can you write what you know when you need to be writing something else? How can you build your brand when you spend large chunks of time on disparate projects?

You can’t. And, I believe, you shouldn’t. Not if you truly believe your first, best ability is raw creation. I say: CREATE! Don’t concern yourself with the notion of “doing it wrong.” There is no wrong/right when it comes to creativity. Publishing the product is another matter, and perhaps not all works of imagination are suited for the general public… but that’s neither here nor there. I’m talking about that foaming-at-the-mouth drive to “make shit.” When you are gripped in such a drive, I think it’s important to follow it for as long as the creative fuel fills your tank.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. After writing nearly 30k words on the next novel in the “Eden” series, I got caught in the grip of a new creative storm. I’m back to writing now and splitting my time between the projects more evenly.

In closing (yeah, I just started this paragraph like a friggin speech… groan), I urge all creative-types to ignore the advice you likely hear upon every visit to a tweet link or blog post on the topic of selling your fiction. Forcing the words onto the paper because you have to finish that series, or write within some artificial confines or for any other reason besides the raw need to “make shit” is a great disservice to yourself and your potential readers. When a storm hits, follow it. Put blinders to the “conventional wisdom” and see where you fall. You might just be surprised at what you can accomplish.

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Quote of the Day

“Science-fiction yesterday, fact today, obsolete tomorrow.” – Otto O. Binder

Haven’t read Matt’s science fiction yet? Go check out “For Duty” in the “Matt’s Books” section of this blog.

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