Author Archives: acflory

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes...

My Favourite Bits…in Miira [3]

First and foremost, Miira is now free on Amazon for five days from January 19 to January 23, 2021! You should be able to find Miira on your local Amazon. For those in the US, the link to Amazon.com is below:

https://www.amazon.com/Miira-book-1-Innerscape-acflory-ebook/dp/B076GYZBKQ/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3BP2AQJ9TQLLQ&dchild=1&keywords=miira&qid=1611045851&sprefix=Miira%2Caps%2C445&sr=8-2

And in case you’re still wondering whether you should add yet another book to your bulging TBR list, here is my last ‘favourite bit’ from Miira. This scene is shorter than the previous one, but not by that much, so apologies again!

Before you read the excerpt, you will need a little bit of context about the ‘suit’. It isn’t a jacket, vest and pants! Gaming in 2101 involves the use of full body ‘suits’ that contain sensors which help create a biofeedback system for the wearer. For example, if the Gamer stubs his toe, he/she will feel the bump.

The Teslasuit, shown on the left, is almost available already, but by the start of the next century, the best quality suits will have so many sensors embedded in the material that the Gamer is fooled into thinking he/she is experiencing the real thing. The top of the range ‘suit’ is the RT69 by Real Touch.

Read on:

—*—*—*—

The rat-tat-tat of someone knocking on the door woke Lennie from a nap, and he started awake, heart pounding. Wha’ th’ fuck?

Nobody ever visited him at home. He made sure of that by keeping the address of his flea bitten kennel a close secret.

Rolling off the mattress, he grabbed the small table next to his bed and hauled himself upright as he tried to shake off the alcoholic fog that still clouded his thoughts. The only person who knew where he lived was the local pizza guy, but he had not ordered pizza. At least, he could not remember ordering pizza…

Gotta lay off the sauce a bit, he thought as he shambled towards the door, one hand scratching his crotch, the other rubbing the stubble on his chin.

When was the last time he’d shaved?

Lennie could not remember, but was not overly concerned. Life had been a very pleasant blur since the money came through, and he was not about to look a gift horse in the arse-

Bang, bang, bang.

“Okay, okay!” he cried. “I’m coming!”

Alcoholic fog notwithstanding, Lennie retained enough sense to check the view port before unlocking the door.

A woman wearing the bright red uniform of a courier stood outside, one hand raised to knock again. She would have been quite attractive had the red of her hair not clashed so badly with the red of her uniform.

She should dye it, Lennie thought as his eye dropped down to the woman’s other hand. It was holding the handle of a bright yellow trolley. On the trolley was a very big package with Real Touch written on it in electric purple lettering.

My suit! Lennie thought in delight as he quickly unlocked the deadbolt and the two padlocks securing his door. It was a cheap neighbourhood. It paid to be cautious.

“Lennie Huffnagel?” the woman asked.
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Authentication please.”

As Lennie bent to press his thumb into the tablet held out to him, a whiff of his own body odour made him wince. He would have to have a shower before he tried out the suit. Bugger.

“Where do you want it?” the woman asked.

“Um, just sort of in the middle,” Lennie said, suddenly very conscious of the piles of dirty dishes, and even dirtier clothing, that covered almost every available surface. “Hang on, I’ll clear a space.”

“It’s okay,” the woman said with a quick grin. “My brother’s room is just the same.”

Matching action to words, she set the trolley down in the middle of the room and began feeding the dirty dishes into the recycler.

Lennie gave her a quizzical look but did his part by throwing the dirty clothes into a pile by the wall. Soon, an empty rectangle of floor beckoned to be filled.

Spinning the trolley around with a quick flick of her wrists, the woman deposited the box in the middle of the newly cleared space and stood back to admire her handiwork.

“Got a cutter?” she asked.

“It’s okay,” Lennie said, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I can manage.”

“Oh,” the woman said, her animated expression drooping into disappointment. “Sorry. It’s just…I’m a gamer too, ya know? I saw the label and I was kinda hoping I could get to see the RT69 for myself…”

“You play?” Lennie asked, unease forgotten. “Whadya play?”
“Mega Dome,” the woman said with a slight blush.
“Nice,” Lennie replied, working hard to keep a condescending smirk off his face.

Mega Dome was billed as a full contact martial arts game, but in reality it was just a fancy dating venue with a bit of slap slap thrown in to get people in the mood. He’d played it himself, before the agency picked him up and introduced him to real gaming. Still, the Ranga* knew enough to recognize a top of the range suit when she saw one.

Lennie gave the courier a quick but very professional appraisal as she stood in the middle of the room, clearly hoping to stay. She was not his type, far too fem with a small nose, small mouth and huge green eyes, but it would be fun to share the moment with someone who knew how awesome the suit really was.

“I’ll get the cutter,” he said.

The woman’s face lit up with pleasure, and Lennie suddenly felt quite warm towards her. If she played her cards right he might just give her a bit of slap slap himself.

My good deed for the day, he thought with a quiet chuckle as he ferreted around in the tiny food preparation area for the cutter.

When the woman finally left an hour later, Lennie lay on the mattress, his brand new suit fully connected and a look of terminal surprise on his face.

So why is this one of my favourite scenes? It’s because I’m fiercely protective of those I love, and I love Jaimie Watson, the only 18 year old Resident in Innerscape. Lennie Huffnagel betrayed Jaimie for money, so killing him off with his own ill gotten gains is poetic justice in my book. But I also love the colour red and characters with depth, so don’t expect the Woman in Red to be a simple anything. 🙂

A word of warning: I don’t write erotica or anything even approaching it, but I don’t pull any punches about ‘body functions’, so an earlier scene with Lennie may shock some people. Apologies in advance, but those scenes highlight the chasm that exists between the lives of the super rich, and those like Lennie who survive by exploiting them. Contrast is the key to everything.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing ‘Miira’ through my eyes. If you want to read the whole story, Miira, book 1 of Innerscape, is now free on Amazon until January 23, 2021.

-hugs-
Meeks


My Favourite bits…in Miira [2]

I was going to introduce you to the Innerscape assassin today, but I decided that post would work better tomorrow, when the book is actually free. For now, I’m going to show you my favourite bit of ‘tech’ in the book. It’s a bit gruesome but there is a happy ending. 🙂

So here, without further ado, is the final stage of Miira Tahn’s physical induction into the virtual world of Innerscape:

Exactly one week after entering Innerscape, Miira Tahn was ready for the most delicate and invasive part of the whole Induction process – the creation of the neural network that would link her to her new, digital home.

Before that could happen, however, her entire skull would have to be removed, including all the soft tissue of her face. Only then could her naked brain be encased in the bath of proprietary biofluids that would lead to full transition.

In keeping with the morbid humour that had named the containment modules the Catacombs, most of the medical staff referred to the biofluid as the ‘embalming fluid’, but that was a misnomer. In reality, the biofluid was seeded with self-replicating nanoparticles that would not only preserve the brain, they would invade it.

The centres for sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, gross and fine motor skills, and the finer senses like spatial awareness, all would be invaded. Some of the nanoparticles would even make their way to the amygdala because the ability to fear was an integral part of being human.

As the nanoparticles grew, they would self-organize into a network of artificial neural pathways which would interface between Miira’s organic brain and the electronic ‘brain’ of the Innerscape AIs.
Once that interface was complete, she would experience the most minute digital feedback as if it came from the real world, and in a very real sense, she would owe it all to Kenneth Wu.

Back when Innerscape first began, the neural interface had been little more than a net of microscopic sensors surgically implanted inside the skull of each Patient. The neural interface allowed them to enjoy a better quality of life than they would have done on the outside, but the experience had been less than perfect.

It had been Kenneth Wu’s idea to remove the skull completely, and it had been his ground-breaking work in nanotechnology that had been instrumental in the creation of the AI-neural interface Innerscape now used. No one alive knew more about Stage 3 of the process than he did, and even Charles McGragh deferred to him in this area.

“The team is ready to begin Stage 3, Dr. Wu,” Charles said evenly.
“My instruments are ready to begin as well,” the surgical AI added.

Kenneth Wu looked up at the image of Miira in his faceplate, but superimposed over that image was the memory of her frightened brown eyes staring up at him as the anaesthetic took effect. She had been scared, very scared, but her last look had held nothing but trust. She trusted him. He would not let her down.

“Begin.”
“Sealing external carotid arteries now,” the AI said as its tools cut through the skin with lightning speed. “External carotid arteries sealed. Initiating removal of skin.”

Even before the AI finished speaking, a fine mist began to form around Miira’s features. As the seconds ticked by it became progressively thicker until her whole head seemed to be encased in a swirling ball of white.

As Kenneth and the rest of the team watched, the mist gradually changed colour from white to a dirty pink.
When the mist was sucked away a few minutes later, all the soft tissue of Miira’s face was gone, leaving her head looking like a halloween mask. Her eye sockets gaped empty, her nose was gone, and her jaw sagged open, exposing the emptiness where her tongue had been.

“Phase 2 of Stage 3 complete,” the AI said. “Commencing removal of skull.”

Once again, a ball of liquid nanoparticles encased Miira’s head, but this time their function was to eat away at the bone protecting her brain. Bone was much denser than muscle and cartilage, and the process took a full 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the ball of liquid bore a rather disturbing resemblance to oatmeal porridge.

As the team watched, one of the tools hovering outside the ball released three drops of pale blue liquid onto the surface.
The outside of the ball quickly began to look more like dirty concrete than porridge. A few minutes later still, the concrete hardened and began to crack.

As the process accelerated, the cracks turned into shards, and the shards turned into even smaller fragments that lifted from the surface, and were drawn away like iron filings captured by a magnet. Once the hard crust was removed, the ball of liquid held in place by electromagnetic currents was perfectly clear once more. And nestled in the centre of it was Miira’s brain.

“Phase 3 of Stage 3 complete,” said the emotionless voice of the AI. “Commencing diagnostics.”

This was the moment at which Kenneth always held his breath. A great deal of computing power had gone into calculating the composition and number of nanoparticles to use, but there was always a slight element of uncertainty. If even a thin layer of unwanted cells remained around the patient’s brain, the embalming fluid would not work properly, and the team would have to take remedial action.

It could be done, but the results were not always optimal. The patients often suffered some small damage to the outer surface of the brain, or to one of the exposed blood vessels…

“Results are optimal,” the AI said.

Kenneth did not cheer like the rest of the team, but he did exhale on a very relieved sigh.

“Preparing to initiate Phase 4.”

This time, the AI inserted an array of needles into the ball of liquid cradling Miira’s brain. Each hollow needle was finer than a human hair, and dripped a measured dose of embalming fluid into the liquid. Over the next two days, the nanoparticles in the embalming fluid would grow to fill the entire ball.

Once that happened, the semi-solid surface of the ball would be sprayed with a different cocktail of nanoparticles which would grow into the interface connecting Miira’s mind to the digital world that awaited her.

“Phase 4 completed successfully.”

Now all we can do is wait, Kenneth thought with a familiar thrill of excitement mixed with trepidation. If he had done his job properly, the next time he saw Miira, it would be in Innerscape.


Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time will know that I love tech, and the life sciences, so I’m sure you’re not surprised by the technical detail that went into this part of the story. I do, however, apologise for the length of the excerpt. Miira’s induction into Innerscape is perhaps the most ‘scifi’ part of the entire story, and I wanted it to feel plausible. I believe that one day, this kind of technology, or something similar to it, will be commonplace. No more cutting through bone with a saw or making holes with a drill. Neurosurgeons will use very different tools to accomplish procedures that are currently impossible. I hope I’m around to see it.

Would I allow my body to become 100% dependent on an AI? Yes….with reservations. A digital world like Innerscape may one day provide terminal patients with a second chance at life, but wherever we ‘go’, we take our hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses with us. That means no world will ever become a paradise, but with a little lot of good will, it could turn into a home…maybe.

Thank you for staying with me. I’ve had fun and hope you have too. Miira will become free tomorrow [my time] so I’ll post the third and last favourite for this book once the Amazon clock has ticked over. You can find the complete schedule of books coming up for free, here.

cheers
Meeks

 


My Favourite bits…in Miira

Stephen King famously advised writers to murder their darlings, but thanks to Audrey Driscoll, another excellent writer, I’m about to do the exact opposite! I’m going to tell you which of my ‘darlings’ I like the most, and why. But I’m also opening these questions up to my writer friends. Which bits of your stories do you like the best? More importantly, why those bits instead of others?

I thought long and hard about those questions myself, and in the end, I kept coming back to two, very different scenes from Miira, book 1 of the Innerscape science fiction trilogy. The first one features the main character, Miira Tahn.

In the following short excerpt, Miira has just entered Innerscape [a virtual world for the old, sick and dying, or at least those wealthy enough to pay the price of admission]. As the final step in her ‘orientation’, Miira must attend a fashion show at which she will meet most of Innerscape’s current Residents. She’s been hurt by these kinds of people before, but she’s learned to beat them at their own game:

Thanks to Miira’s determination to find just the right ‘armour’, she and the girls were fashionably late by the time they finally arrived at the venue for the fashion show. All around them, beautiful people filled the spacious room, chatting over exquisite canapés and sipping the finest simulated champagne.

Yet even so, their arrival did not go unnoticed. Emily, and Jane wore lovely pastel frocks that enhanced their colouring, but both looked a little insipid next to Miira’s neon presence. She sailed through the crowd like a bright red exclamation mark, impossible to miss and even harder to ignore.

Smiling and nodding at the Residents she recognized, Miira led the way to their seats as if unaware of the ripples she was causing.

The front row seats they had been assigned would give them an unobstructed view of the gorgeous creations soon to grace the catwalk, but Miira knew the seats would also give the Residents an unobstructed view of her. She would be under the microscope, and heaven help her if they found any chinks in her armour.

She had always hated the scrutiny that was part and parcel of her role as the Lady, but over the years she had learned to give as good as she got. Now, as she waited for the show to begin, she welcomed the gorgeous people who approached with a half-smile and a knowing look.

The women did not like her, air-kisses notwithstanding, but each man looked her up and down with cool intent.

Miira returned their looks, her hooded eyes hinting at promises she had no intention of keeping.

Taken from Miira, book 1 of Innerscape

Miira is not me. But she may be the person I would like to have been during the six, miserable years I spent in an all-girl, Catholic convent school. I’d always gotten on better with boys than girls in primary school, so high school with only girls was… a shock. I learned that girls en masse are not always kind.

So the chip on Miira’s shoulder was probably inherited from me, but I like how she fought back. And I like the colour red.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about another one of my favourites, but this time the person wearing red will be the assassin. Make of that what you will. lol

Your turn!

Meeks

p.s. Don’t forget that Miira will be free on Amazon.com for five days starting on January 19, 2021!


Free book schedule

All my science fiction books have now been reduced to 99c, and they’re now on Kindle Unlimited as well. As promised, I’ve also set up the free book schedule on Amazon. Starting January 19, 2021, Miira will be free for five consecutive days. The other five books are scheduled to be free as per the following table:

As you can see, the last book ends its free run on April the 3rd. I had to mess around with the dates a bit to make sure it didn’t finish on April Fool’s Day! -cough-

The 99c price point is so no one who wants a book misses out. If possible, though, please grab the book[s] during the free promotion. And it goes without saying that I would love reviews, any kind of reviews, even critical ones.

And finally an apology. I’ll be talking about these books a lot in the weeks ahead. I’ll try not to bore you silly, but there’s only so many ways of saying ‘read my book’. Bear with me!

-hugs-
Meeks


January 2021…and beyond

I think we all know by now that 2021 is not going to become a good year any time soon. Despite the rollout of vaccines in most countries, it will take a long time before enough people are vaccinated to provide herd immunity* to those who aren’t. For most diseases, that means at least 70% of a population have to be vaccinated before herd immunity can kick in. With Covid-19, no one’s sure how much of the population has to be immune. There’s also a great big question mark around what the current vaccines will actually accomplish. Will they simply stop the disease? Or will they also stop infected people from passing it on?

So…. 2021 is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better. For the Offspring and I, that means we’ll be in self-isolation for a long time yet. Because of that, I thought there was no point setting any goals for the coming year. I was wrong. There are things I can do, both for myself and for others; it just took a while for me to see it.

One thing I’ve always been bad at is marketing, but marketing these days is mostly digital, so I’ve decided that my goal for 2021 is to get one more review for Miira and Vokhtah. Both are sitting on 19 reviews, and I’d love to see that number change to 20. Not a big goal, I know, but it’s an achievable goal if I pull my finger out and actually do some marketing!

“But I hate marketing!”

I’m probably the world’s worst salesperson, but I discovered a long time ago that when I believe in a product, my enthusiasm accomplishes what my lack of skill cannot – I can make others want to see what has me so excited.

“But I hate marketing my own stuff!”

Sadly, women of my vintage were brought up to believe that ‘showing off’ was the worst thing a woman could do short of flashing her boobs in public. I recognize the conditioning. I acknowledge that it’s incredibly unfair – why should men be able to blow their own trumpet while we have to be demure and self-effacing? But this fear of being seen as a show-off is so deeply ingrained that I cannot shift it.

But I can trick it into shutting up. 🙂 And this is where my light bulb moment kicked in. If I give my books away for free, I’ll be getting eyes on my work AND I’ll be providing some escapism for those who are still in limbo. And that is exactly what I plan to do.

The first step of this grand plan is to drop the price of all my books to 0.99 cents. Then, once every two weeks, I’ll put one of the books up for free on Amazon. The book will remain free for 5 consecutive days before returning to the 0.99 cent price point. When the last book has had its turn at free, I’ll put all the books back to their original price points.

This is what my books cost now:

Prices shown are for Amazon.com as at January 15, 2021

I’m not sure how long it will take for the price change to register on Amazon, but I’ll post an update when the new prices are available.

So that’s my grand plan. If I achieve the two extra reviews I’ll be happy. If I don’t, I can still hope that my stories ease the strain of this weird point in time, at least a little, and…I’ve got a plan for the next twelve weeks.

much love,
Meeks

…*… herd immunity works by surrounding infectious people with people who are already immune. To survive, the bacterium or virus needs new hosts to infect. With no new hosts available, the bacterium or virus runs its course and dies. Eventually, every infected person recovers and bingo, no more virus. To get to that point though, an awful lot of people have to be immunised at the same time, otherwise the virus just keeps ticking along.


‘Native Sponsored Posts’? – it’s time to leave WordPress

So…Wordpress is ramping up its long term plan of monetising our content. First it was those shitty ads taking up valuable real estate on everyone’s blog page, now we’ll be hosting full length infomercials in place of our own blog posts:

‘WordPress.com has begun testing Sponsored Posts on free WordPress.com sites. These sponsored posts promote WordPress.com content, other Automattic products, and brands for the purpose of driving traffic and sales for users and advertisers.
For now, you may see these Sponsored Posts running on your sites as we expand testing. To remove Sponsored Posts from your site, upgrade to any paid WordPress.com plan which comes with many more benefits including the ability to use your own custom domain!
In the longer term, we hope to offer Sponsored Posts to our users as a way to help drive traffic and promote content discovery.

https://wordpress.com/support/native-sponsored-posts/#example

How it will be done is hidden behind opaque words like ‘testing’. Will our blog posts be replaced once a day? Once a week? At random so we never know when to post important marketing posts of our own?

And what happens when we want to post something new?

Will our new posts replace the obnoxious shit placed there by Automatic? Or will we have to wait for the cuckoo to run its course before we can post again?

And what of the content? Once WordPress start offering this new ‘service’ to paying customers, we could find ourselves hosting absolutely anything on our blogs.

Remember when paid ads first started appearing on our sites? I found a delightful adv. for some kind of porn site on my blog. This is the pic that went with it:

https://acflory.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/wordpress-do-you-know-what-your-blog-really-looks-like-to-visitors/

But at least that advert had no naked bits, and people knew it was a paid commercial. Once our actual posts are replaced by someone else’s paid content, I could wake up to find that Meeka’s Mind has hosted an infomercial for a porn site complete with full on visuals!

Automatic says I can complain and ‘ask’ for objectionable content to be taken off, but the damage will already have been done. Not only will that kind of awful content be on my blog, notifications about it will have been sent to all my followers, exactly as if I had posted a new article. Exactly as if I’d sponsored that content.

That scares me most of all. I’ve put nine years of my life into this blog. To have it, and my reputation, abused like that would be unbearable.

Yes, I could probably scrape together a monthly fee to be saved from this blatant ditigal blackmail, but as more and more of us pay to escape having our blogs hijacked, the price will go up. That’s how this marketplace works; corporations charge whatever the market will allow – i.e. whatever us poor saps are prepared to pay.

I simply can’t afford to pay that kind of protection money to Automatic out of my pension.

There’s also something else. WordPress would be nothing without our content. It’s like a digital shopping mall that offers us somewhere to create and display our ‘goods’. Take those goods away and you’re left with a great big empty building. Or maybe it won’t be empty. Maybe your blog will be surrounded by porn sites and 2 dollar shops. I’m moving mine before that happens and I waste more of my life on WordPress.

If I must pay to retain control of my blog, my brand and my content, then I’d rather pay a company with some integrity. And if that company abuses my trust, I’ll move on again. It’s called ‘churning’, and it’s the commercial equivalent of voting with your wallet. It is a lot of work, but it’s the only way we consumers have of forcing corporations to actually compete for our business. Given that these corporations are big enough to buy and sell small countries, I feel no guilt at punishing them when they abuse my trust.

I’ve been blogging with WordPress.com for nine years, but I won’t be here for the tenth. The price of free has become too high.

Meeks


Strange science

We’ve known for some time that certain animals can navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field, but how they did it was a mystery.

Well, a little bit of that mystery may now be solved via a rather interesting experiment conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo.

You can find a detailed description of the experiment here but basically what it showed was that waving a magnet over a bunch of cells every 4 seconds caused the fluorescence [light emitting] of those cells to dim, proof positive that it was the magnet – ie magnetism – causing the effect. The scientists think this dimming was caused by the ‘radical pair mechanism’ at work in the cells:

“Essentially, if certain molecules are excited by light, electrons can jump between them to their neighbors. That can create pairs of molecules with a single electron each, known as a radical pair. If the electrons in those molecules have matching spin states, they will undergo chemical reactions slowly, and if they’re opposites the reactions occur faster.” [Emphasis is mine]

https://newatlas.com/biology/live-cells-respond-magnetic-fields/

So why does this rather obscure discovery excite me so much? Because of that old quote from Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/quickquotes/quickquotehamletdreamt.html

Change the word ‘philosophy’ to ‘science’, and Shakespeare could have been describing how new discoveries are always expanding the boundaries of what we know about the real world.

For a science fiction writer like myself, this is manna from heaven because in one hundred years time, some bright spark may discover that telepathy is not so much supernatural as supranatural! [Don’t hit me! I’m using supranatural as a description of something that doesn’t fit into the physics of the normal world…like quantum mechanics. As I’m no physicist, however, I’ll submit to those who know better.]

Okay, I’ll stop there before I get too carried away, but you can see why I find these kinds of discoveries so exciting.

Take care and stay well,
-hugs-
Meeks


Guest post: The First Year of the Third Decade of the Age of Stupid, by the Venerable Bede

Trigger warning: snark ahead!

Scifi author Chris James has a secret talent – he channels a Venerable from the 6th century called Bede. Chris was kind enough to allow me to reproduce some of the great man’s words of wisdom to start the New Year.

“And lo, at the beginning of the First Year of the Third Decade of the Age of Stupid, a Great Pestilence did make its way from the East along the Silk Road, and did cause much harm and bring vast Misery and Death to the countries of the West and the New World.

“But this was the Age of Stupid, when people turned their backs on the Men and Women of Knowledge. Yay, verily, in the New World, the disciples and acolytes of the Orange Shit-Gibbon did follow their Master’s teachings, unto the arms of Death itself, for they did not believe the Great Pestilence was real because they could not see it with their own eyes. Indeed, His disciples and acolytes did curse and spit on the Men and Women of Knowledge, and did reject the evidence that Knowledge brought forth even as the Great Pestilence did fill their lungs with foul liquid and they breathed their last. Such was the Age of Stupid.

“In Perfidious Albion, the Greased Albino Piglet strove to pretend to care for all the common people; but, lo, He gave out all of the Gold to His associates of knaves and charlatans, who did cluster about Him in the same manner as insects do weave and dive and fret about excrement. In Perfidious Albion, too, did thousands perish needlessly from the Great Pestilence, but this did not matter because the Hoarders of the Gold could protect themselves, and did reason that because they hoarded all of the Gold, they were better and their lives worth more than the common people. Such was the Age of Stupid….

To read the entire post from the Venerable Bede, please click here.

Sadly, the Venerable Bede had no words of wisdom about the #LiarFromTheShire in the Antipodes, but I guess travel was a bit restricted back then.

Have fun, and may the Bede be with you. 🙂

Meeks

p.s. Just corrected a boo boo I made when copy pasting the opening paragraphs of Chris’ post!


Dancing Robots Bid Farewell to 2020

There’s still 15 and a half hours till the start of New Year here in Australia, but…Happy New Year anyway!

Let’s dance!

https://newatlas.com/robotics/entire-boston-dynamics-robot-dances-spot-atlas-handle/

love,
Meeks


What, Where, When, How…and Why?

What, where, when, how and why are the necessary elements of every great story, but in my not-so-humble opinion, the ‘why’ is the key. Without it, the event [what], its setting [the where and when], and the mechanics of how it happened are like the dry pages of a history book – factual but boring. Only the why brings the story to life because the why is always about people.

We are eternally fascinated by ourselves, but most of us are small, insignificant motes living small, insignificant lives. Only in fiction can we become something more. Only in fiction can we live bigger lives…from the safety of our armchairs.

In The Game, a six-part drama produced by the BBC, we are taken back in time to the Cold War when the Western democracies were pitted against the Soviet Union in an undeclared, covert war fought by spies, assassins, traitors, and information gatherers. Both sides had developed nuclear weapons post World War II, so if either side started a physical war, the result would be mutual destruction, many times over. It would be the end of everything.

I grew up in Australia during the Cold War, and although we felt very distant from all the pushing and shoving in the northern hemisphere, the possibility of being wiped off the face of the planet was very real. I remember reading Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and wondering how I would spend my last hours of life. Trust me when I say that the fear was real, as was the threat.

That is the ‘where’ and ‘when’ in which The Game unfolds. The ‘what’ is Operation Glass. No one in the UK’s MI5 know what Operation Glass is about, but they all know there might not be a UK if the Soviet plot is allowed to succeed. The following is a short trailer from Episode 2:

All of the people shown in that scene are key players in MI5, and you automatically relate to them as the ‘good guys’, but are they? Bit by bit as the six episodes unfold, we learn snippets from the past of each player, but these snippets are not just nice to know background fluff, they are the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Put the pieces together correctly and you discover how Operation Glass took MI5 by surprise.

If you know anything about that period of UK history, you’ll know that deep cover traitors were discovered. To say more would be to spoil a part of the story. Suffice to say that the ‘why’ of each character in The Game is vital to the story.

If I were doing a movie review, I’d give The Game 5 stars along with a recommendations that you watch it on ABC iView [for Australians]. But I’m a writer, and I have to say something more, something about balance. The ‘why’ may be key to any story, but it has to be balanced by all the other elements.

Frankly, nothing bores me more than a work of fiction that reads like a therapy session using fictional characters as the medium. Yes, the deep hurts of our lives are necessary if we want to write strong, believable characters, but great stories require that we sublimate those hurts. Great stories require that we find the universal in the personal. We have to find the elements that are common to us all. Only then can we write three dimensional characters that all of us can relate to.

And then we have to place those characters in terrible situations from which they will emerge stronger, braver, better…or dead. Okay, not always dead, but you know what I mean. 🙂

May your stories grab readers by the short and curlies, and may your characters display motivation we can all recognize! Write well, all you wonderful Indies out there, and may 2021 see you all gain the recognition you deserve.

love
Meeks


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