Tag Archives: Japan

The Godsend – Introducing Jaimie

The Godsend is the 2nd book of Innerscape and continues the story of Miira Tahn and the digital world she now inhabits.
In this short excerpt, Miira gets to meet Jaimie Watson for the first time. Despite his youth and apparent rudeness, Jaimie will become a pivotal character in The Godsend.

* * *

 

Miira stepped out into the Tokyo HUB and stopped, stunned by the sheer volume of people crowding the vast, circular concourse. There must have been thousands of them.

Shaking her head in bemusement, she was scanning the crowd for her next guide when she caught sight of a young man with shoulder-length blond hair and wild blue eyes. His long black coat reminded her of dark wings as he pushed his way through the crowd.

Stopping to watch the bright angel run past, she was caught off guard when he suddenly changed direction and barreled towards her. She managed to step out of the way, but her bags were not quite quick enough.

The young man tripped over the bags and grabbed at Miira on the way down. For one timeless moment, they teetered together, then momentum sent them both crashing to the ground.

“Oouw!” Miira yelped as her head hit the tiles. The yelp was followed by an ouff as an elbow knocked the breath from her body.

“Shit, shit, shit!” the young man muttered as he pushed himself to his knees and tried to help Miira sit up. “Just my fucking luck…are you okay?”

“I…think so,” Miira wheezed, one hand going to the back of her head where a small but uncomfortable bump was growing beneath her fingers. “Sometimes reality could be a little less real.”

“Yeah,” the young man said with a frown. “Look. I’m really sorry. I thought you were just a, you know, NRA.”

“Because I look Asian?” Miira snapped, shock giving way to anger.

“I didn’t mean it that way!” the young man protested. “I just… Ah, crap.”

Bending from the waist, he bowed in a very Asian way and murmured, “Gomenasai…”

Maybe he wasn’t being racist after all, Miira thought, impressed despite herself. She probably had looked like all the other NRAs milling around.

“So what did that mean?” she asked, her tone marginally less hostile.

“It means ‘I’m sorry’.”

“Okay. But is your Japanese good enough to get me a taxi?”

The young man’s lip curled in a sneer, as if offended by the very thought that his Japanese might not be fluent.

“Of course. Where do you want to go?”

That’s a good question, Miira thought. After being dwarfed by the Hilton in Aqaba, she had no desire to go to one of the big international hotels. Unfortunately, they were likely to be the only places where her own lack of Japanese would not matter.

“Do you know of any traditional hotels here in Tokyo where the staff still speak some English?”

“Hmmm… You’re not going to get traditional anything in Tokyo,” the young man said with a frown. “But I know a great ryokan in Kyoto where you can do the whole traditional shi-thing, and the staff all speak English.”

“Rio-kan? What’s that?”

“Boy, you really don’t know anything do you?” he retorted, his tone superior.

Miira just raised an eyebrow at him. Her head still hurt, and she was in no mood to be talked down to.

“Okay, okay!” he cried, throwing up his hands. “A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn dating back to the time when this place was still called Edo. Happy now?”

“Yes, thank you,” Miira said. Kyoto was where she intended to go the next day anyway, so it was not out of the question. “Would I have to go through the HUB again to get there?”

“No, Kyoto is part of Tokyo HUB.”

“Fine, in that case, you get me a taxi to this ryo-kan of yours, and I promise not to sue for grievous bodily harm.”

“Har de hah hah,” he replied, but his lips quirked as if he were trying to restrain a real smile. “C’mon then.”

“Wait!” Miira said to his retreating back. “I can’t keep calling you ‘hey you’. What’s your name?”

“Jaimie. Now c’mon, I haven’t got all day.”

Jaimie? As in Jaimie Watson? Miira wondered as she started after her bad-tempered young guide.

Now that she thought about it, he was certainly rude enough to be eighteen. But there was also a vitality about him she had not seen in many other Residents.

Maybe Nour was right? Maybe young Jaimie Watson had discovered the way to live a good life in Innerscape?

“Let’s go, bags,” Miira said with a shrug. “Our guide is definitely not going to wait.”

 

cheers

Meeks


Pod accommodation – in India

I first read about capsule accommodation in the 1970s when the first one opened in Japan. The amenities were pretty basic and that memory informed the creation of ‘short term transit pods’ in Innerscape. But time moves on, and the humble, claustrophobic pod has become high tech, finding takers in some of the world’s largest, and not so large, cities.

If you follow the link below it will take you to an article about the new pod hostel that opened in Mumbai, India. The photos look quite amazing with push button everything:

https://scroll.in/magazine/834487/a-night-at-indias-first-capsule-hotel-shows-that-mumbais-space-crunch-is-now-a-hospitality-fad

The article also gives a nod to the ‘Tiny Homes’ movement which I’ve featured before. And just in case you thought this could not happen in your city, think again. Pod hostels have now sprung up in China, Iceland and…ta dah…Australia, amongst others. You can find some interesting titbits in the video clip right at the end of the article.

I’m still not sure if I’d be able to lock myself in and sleep in a pod, but I’d love to try one on for size…just for fun. Then, I’d traipse off to a nice big hotel room and thank my stars I can afford it. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Website : Kkaa.co.jp

via Tsubomi Villas by Kengo Kuma — Mega Luxus

I have always loved the inspired simplicity of Japanese art and design, but this one really does take my breath away. Curves are the basic building blocks of nature, not straight lines, but I cannot begin to imagine how much work went into creating this organic, deceptively simple shape. Pure perfection.


#Music – the what-eremin?

Okay, I thought this was either a joke or a tongue-in-cheek scam when I first saw it, but the #theremin is an actual instrument – an electronic instrument that plays almost like a violin or harp, but without the strings. What makes it particularly difficult is that the musician has to ‘find’ the note, literally from thin air!

This first video clip (audio only) is from a very old recording by Clara Rockmore who was the first musician to play the theremin… and it’s 100 years old!

In this second video clip you can watch a step-by-step tutorial on how to play a theremin.

[Warning! The guy sometimes plays flat. I don’t have perfect pitch but it did grate on my nerves a bit. The reason I chose it is to demonstrate just how hard it is to play the theremin well.]

And what would a music post be without a Guiness World record? Having seen how hard it is to get just one theremin to play on key, watch as 273 Japanese thereminists play Amazing Grace…complete with harmonies. You heard me. This is worth watching even just for a minute or two. In fact, I found it quite beautiful, more like a very good choir than an orchestra.

[Note: I started the 16 minute clip at about minute 5 to save you from heaps of setup footage. The actual music ends at about 10:38. ]

Enjoy!

Meeks


Floating #solar power plants!

I first read about floating solar power plants in Quartz, and just had to share. Here are a couple of amazing video clips that prove this is not sci-fi!

The second video clip is not as slick as the first and has no sound at all. BUT. It shows time lapse photography of the plant being put together in a week!

And just in case you think these are just weird one-offs, here’s one from India. 🙂

The thing I like most about this concept is that it is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that it puts clean, green energy within the grasp of the poorest countries. With it, they can embrace technology and make a better life for their people without having to go the dirty-fossil-fuels path.

I predict that these countries will be leading the way in clean energy within 30 years while my own country will still be talking about waiting for the rest of the world ‘to do something’ about climate change…

-face palm-

Meeks


Watch a real exoskeleton at work!

Sci-fi movie buffs will be familiar with this scene from the movie Aliens 2 where the heroine [yes, a woman] uses an exoskeleton to try to save a child from the baddie.

And if aliens are not your cup of tea, how about Iron Man from the Avengers movies? That pretty red suit he wears is not just a fashion statement, or yummy body armour, it’s actually an exoskeleton as well.

But now, for the first time, real exoskeletons are making an appearance in the hospitals of Japan. Designed to aid both patients and carers, this amazing, robotic invention is set to become commonplace in the real world.

And that, my friends, means that at least one, small part of my Innerscape story is no longer sci-fi! If you’re curious, my protagonist, Miira, wears an exoskeleton in the very first scene to give her a degree of mobility and independence. [You can read the most recent version on Wattpad here]

Ironically, I snuck the concept of an exoskeleton into the beginning of the story to provide a subtle clue that Innerscape was, in fact, a science fiction story. Now I’ve been foiled by the rate of technological advancement. It makes me wonder what else will be out of date by the end of the year, let alone the end of the century.

I’m not complaining, but this incredible technological advance does highlight one of the major drawbacks of writing in the ‘near future’ – no one can accurately forecast what that future will look like. Still, it’s fun to try. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Science fiction is becoming a reality

Whilst the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant is an on-going tragedy for Japan, it may end up being the trigger for something wonderful.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has unveiled a proposal to build solar farms in space. If the proposal goes ahead, it could solve Japan’s power problems, and allow the country to decommission at least some of its nuclear power plants. It could also usher in a whole new era of clean energy  for the world as a whole.

The following quote from JAXA researcher Susumu Sasaki  really struck a chord with me :

It would be difficult and expensive, but the payoff would be immense, and not just in economic terms. Throughout human history, the introduction of each new energy source—beginning with firewood, and moving on through coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power—has caused a revolution in our way of living. If humanity truly embraces space-based solar power, a ring of satellites in orbit could provide nearly unlimited energy, ending the biggest conflicts over Earth’s energy resources. As we place more of the machinery of daily life in space, we’ll begin to create a prosperous and peaceful civilization beyond Earth’s surface.

You can find the full article on the Venture Beat website :

http://venturebeat.com/2014/05/04/japan-wants-to-build-a-space-based-solar-energy-farm/

cheers

Meeks


%d bloggers like this: