Tag Archives: sci-fi

Would you buy this advert?

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Sick?

Weary of life?

Ready for a fresh start?

Then come to Innerscape and shed that old, weary body!

Our world class designers are ready to help you choose the digital body of your dreams: young, fresh, strong, beautiful. A body capable of doing all the things your old body can no longer do, in a world created just for you.

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All this, and more, can be yours at Innerscape, a digital world in which anything is possible.

I blame D.Wallace Peach for this. We were chatting in comments about audio books and book trailers, and bang! It was as if I were hearing one of those cheesy advertisements you get on TV, but inside my head. ๐Ÿ™‚

All I need now is a guy with a deep, super sexy voice, some kind of gorgeous animation and voila! A book trailer………..

Well, at least I’ve got the cheesy advert down pat. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a wonderful weekend,

cheers

Meeks


Jewellery from Meteorites

I’ve known that some meteorites contain iron for a long time – the starrock of Vokhtah is metal made from ‘found’ meteorites. But I was just guessing when I imagined that the gems worn by the Council of Seven [including the Blue], also came from meteorites. I’ve just learned that I was right, about some of them at least. God, I love research!

Have a look at this:

This is a peridot cut from the Jepara meteorite. A green gem for The Green. ๐Ÿ™‚

“Very rarely, meteorites will contain facetable mineral material large enough to actually cut a gemstone, since the heat and impact of the fall can easily destroy most gemmy material or shatter it into tiny fragments. For example, the olivine material in stony and stony-iron meteorites can sometimes yield beautiful peridots.”

https://www.gemsociety.org/article/meteorite-jewelry-introduction/

Green is more rare than yellow, which works perfectly for me as there are three Councillors in the Yellow faction but only one Green. I haven’t found anything about a blue gem but a little fantasy is okay, right?

While I’m prepared to do a bit of hand-waving [fudging the science] over the colour of the gems, my tolerance does have its limits, so it was wonderful to learn that these gems can ‘fall out’ of the metal matrix due to the presence of water in the environment – i.e. the water makes the iron corrode away leaving the gems behind:

“This Brenham piece was found in a damp, muddy part of the strewnfield and much of the iron-nickel has terrestrialized, while the olivine crystals remain intact. Corroded specimens such as this are unofficially called meteorodes.” [Under the picture of the meteorite].

https://geology.com/meteorites/stony-iron-meteorites.shtml

This is important as the iVokh Smiths have barely made it into Iron Age technology; they needed some way of extracting the gems from the starrock. Plus, it so happens that Vokhtah goes through a season of torrential rain every year [Kohoh].

-pats self on the back-

And to prove that meteorites were used to make jewellery right here on Earth, here’s a picture of a bead found in an Egyptian tomb. It dates back about 5,000 years:

That bead may not look like much, but it is most definitely made from a meteorite. You can find the whole article at the following link:

https://www.livescience.com/36981-ancient-egyptian-jewelry-made-from-meteorite.html

If anyone is interested in extraterrestrial metals and jewels, the link to geology.com will take you to a brilliant article that gives a very detailed, in-depth explanation of these beautiful visitors to Earth.

But wait, there’s more. ๐Ÿ˜€ I wasn’t actually researching gems today, I was researching the metal in meteorites to see if I could find some property of meteorites to ‘identify’ a Healer’s chain that is becoming pivotal to the story of Kaati [Vokhtah book 2].

Iron and Stony-iron meteorites contain both iron and nickel. Earth does have some iron-nickel but it’s rare. Meteorites have it in abundance [one way of identifying them]. For my purposes, the following is of great interest:

“Iron-nickel (terrestrial or extraterrestrial) develops a coating of rust if washed or if kept in a humid area. If a specimen must be washed with water, it should be thoroughly dried.”

https://www.minerals.net/meteorites-iron-nickel.aspx

I knew that terrestrial iron would rust if not protected, but its nice to know that I was right about starrock as well :

“Left alone in the empty bathing cavern, the Voice sighed as it picked up the discarded cloth and dried the large starrock medallion that hung from its neck.ย  Starrock did not like water. It hoped the na-Seneschal would remember that, but suspected the young iVokh would not. There were still a great many things the na-Seneschal did not know about being a Voice. Foremost among them was knowing when to bend and when to stand firm.”

[Vokhtah, book 1]

Getting back to the Healer’s chain, however, I think I may have found what I’m looking for in a type of meteorite called ataxite. It has an exceptionally high nickel content which gives the metal a strange, almost white colour:

 

“Today, modern blacksmiths are still following the tradition: a blacksmith from historical re-enactment group ASBL Lucilinburhuc created a sword incorporating a chunk of ataxitea type of meteorite with an unusually high proportion of nickel, at least 18 percent.”

https://www.cnet.com/pictures/swords-from-the-stars-weapons-forged-from-meteoric-iron/

The red emphasis is mine. If you’re interested in the process, this is the video made of the creation of the sword:

The truly interesting thing is that the meteorite wasn’t melted. It was heated and then hammered to gradually remove the impurities. This is called forging and is a technique that my iVokh Smiths could have mastered quite easily!

The following is a screenshot taken from the very end of the video. It shows the amazing colour [almost white] and the patterning left behind after the ‘etching’ process [an acid bath to bring out the folds]:

The video includes other techniques that the iVokh probably wouldn’t have had access to, but then they weren’t making a sword, just the links for a simple chain. An unusual chain that fits my plot perfectly.

I have the degree of possibility I need. ๐Ÿ˜€

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Backstory, World building & Motivation

As a reader, one problem I’ve always had with plot driven stories is that the motivation behind pivotal events is often paper thin. The author wants Character X to do something or be somewhere because the rest of the plot depends on it. A flimsy excuse is offered, and the story moves on, usually without me. I’m fussy, no apologies.

Well, imagine my dismay when I found that I was in precisely the same situation with book two of Vokhtah. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I’m a pantster by nature, meaning I don’t like to outline, but the second book of a series inevitably constrains how freely you can write because much of the world building and ‘rules’ have been set in concrete as part of book one. You can’t suddenly unwrite details that are no longer convenient.

And that’s the problem I’ve been tiptoeing around for weeks. I have a character who calls itself Death*. It appears in book one as the assistant to the Yellow. In book two, however, I need Death to be at the entrance to the Settlement when Kaati** arrives. The trouble is, for higher level Messengers*** like Death, gate duty would be seen as a dreadful punishment.ย  I’m talking maximum humiliation here.

So what could Death possibly do that would result in such a public punishment?

I already had some of Death’s back story and the world building from book one, but the ‘crime’ and its motivation eluded me. I tried to fudge it, but my subconscious wouldn’t let me. Every time I sat down to continue the story, I’d find myself going over that scene, again and again and again. Yet no matter how much I polished the words, it still felt like a bloody fudge so last night I spat the dummy and decided to delete the whole scene and start from scratch.

Oddly enough, I had a great night’s sleep, and this morning I started writing the outline, yes the outline, with a clear head. Two thousand words later, I finally have all the background and world building needed to explain Death’s motivation for being where it needs to be. Yes! ๐Ÿ˜€

I won’t spoil the story by giving it all away, but I will explain some of the world building that emerged. It revolves around the Guild of Healers and how their Council works. In a nutshell, the Council is made up of a total of seven Councillors who are the most powerful Healers in the Guild.

But Councillors are not chosen solely on merit. When a Councillor dies, or disappears [as happened with the leader of the Blue faction****], a replacement is usually chosen by a vote amongst the remaining six Councillors.

Now this is where things become interesting as the Councillors are divided into two dominant factions. Those in the Yellow faction believe that all Vokh abominations must be killed. Those in the Blue faction believe that not all abominations are dangerous. In fact, they believe that some abominations actually decrease the aggression of the Vokh and thus should be allowed to live and breed.

And finally there’s the Green. It has no faction of its own and its purpose is to break any deadlock between the two major factions. In the past, Councillors chosen as the Green tended to be strictly neutral. In book one, however, the current Green tends to side with the Yellows more often than the Blues. In book two, it continues to side with the Yellows until Death does something that really ticks it off.

If the Green lends its vote to the Blue faction it will cause a deadlock in the selection of the seventh Councillor – i.e. three Yellow faction members versus two Blues plus the Green.

In situations where the Council is deadlocked, the vote must be thrown open to the entire Guild. If that were to happen, the Yellows might still manage to get another Yellow voted onto the Council, but it would not be a certainty, and the delay could seriously disrupt the Yellow’s plans [the Yellow is the leader of the Yellow faction].

I can’t tell you what Death did, but it works perfectly with the Machiavellian politics of the Guild and its own, personal motivation. At this point I have no idea how much of this world building/back story will end up in the actual book, but at least I’ve stopped fighting my ‘muse’, and we’re both happy for the first time in weeks!

The sun is shining, the wind is mild and my Sunday is turning out to be a really good day. Hope you enjoy your weekend as well.

Cheers

Meeks

* Both Vokh and iVokh keep their personal names secret, and in public are known solely by rank or profession.

** Kaati is the young Apprentice from book one. Book two follows what happens to Kaati after parting company with the Blue/Messenger at Needlepoint gather.

*** Messengers are Healers who act as ‘enforcers’ for the will of the Guild of Healers. They are distinguished from ordinary Healers by their ability to inflict pain without suffering any of the empathic consequences that affect true Healers.

**** The leader of the Blue faction was known as the Blue. This powerful Healer left the safety of the Settlement to stop the guild from shooting itself in the foot. See book one, Voktah.


And then there were…ostriches?

Yes, I’ve been researching ostriches today, but only for their legs. In particular, I wanted to find out why their knees bend backwards.

Well, it turns out that ostrich knees don’t bend backward at all; the thing that looks like a knee is actually an ankle. But who am I to criticize a bird that’s capable of running between 60 and 70 km per hour!

If you’re interested in this amazing bird, you can find a really good article about it right here. For me, though, the point about ostrich legs is that they make the bird look as if it’s standing upright, more or less. This makes the leg structure perfect for the Vokh as I want them to walk upright as well.

I’ve only just started to work on the Vokh legs so you’ll have to use your imagination rather a lot. First I traced around a pair of ostrich legs:

[Note: I found the Corel Draw B-Spline drawing tool really handy for tracing the outline.]

Next, I found a picture of some black opera gloves, you know, the kind that go half way up to the shoulder. To my great joy, the elbows were shown as slightly bent. I traced around them too, but this time, I used the tracing to cut out the glove I wanted:

Yes, it’s the same glove flipped horizontally. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fitting the glove texture into the ostrich legs is going to take some tricky re-engineering, especially as I need to add ‘proper’ raptor feet complete with killing claws, but that’s for another day. I’m thrilled to have solved the problem of the legs so easily.

As always, thanks for joining me on these odd detours into research and graphics. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks

 


A review of Nabatea that almost made me cry

Forgive me if I reproduce this review in its entirety, but as a pantster, it’s validation of a sort I never expected to get:ย 

Oooh, I loved this series, and now that itโ€™s over, Iโ€™m suffering from a book hangover.

Nabatea is the final book in the Innerscape series. Book 1 primarily introduces the main character Miira Tahn and guides the reader through her entrance into the virtual world of Innerscape. During Book 2, sabotage, scheming, and political intrigue results in multiple victims including two people close to Miira. In Book 3, the search for truth commences and resolves amidst a cover-up that threatens Miiraโ€™s life.

The plot takes off quickly when Miira is confronted with disturbing information about the murders, and her prying questions raise alarms among those who want to hide the truth. A plot to silence her brings in two dedicated investigators who start gathering clues and unraveling the web of lies.

Miira is tenacious, a strong woman, but also vulnerable both physically and emotionally. Her character is compelling and consistent throughout the series, and I teetered on the edge of my seat as the danger to her life increased. Several pivotal new characters enter the action in this book, and though late in the overall story, the author pulled it off without a glitch. All characters are distinct, believable, and emotionally charged.

Flory did a marvelous job of tangling up the truth by loading the story with lies and misinterpretations. The unraveling of the events around the murders as well as the investigation into the cover-up required an intricate job of storytelling that was rather impressive. Several characters are investigating the truth simultaneously, and because theyโ€™re coming at it from different angles, their assumptions and conclusions are often erroneous and mismatched. I would recommend reading these books in a tight timeframe to help keep all the complex plot threads straight.

The worldbuilding is exceptional, the dialog natural, the writing and editing flawless. And the ending was highly satisfying as all of the threads tie up nicely. I will definitely read more of this author in the future.

Update April 4, 2019: I was so carried away that I totally forgot to add a link to the actual review. Here it is!

https://www.amazon.com/Nabatea-Innerscape-Book-3-acflory-ebook/dp/B076NN3FZD/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Nabatea&qid=1554248624&s=gateway&sr=8-1

My thanks to Cage Dunn for reminding me. ๐Ÿ˜€

The review was written by D.Wallace Peach. I forgot to mention that too. I really am good at being an idiot.

Thank you all,

love,

Meeks


Ani’s Advent stories – my Christmas Roast

Apologies in advance but the timezone differences always trip me up. I hope I’m still in time to point you towards Sue Vincent’s blog where Ani [the 2nd cutest dog in the world] is hosting a different Christmas related story each day. Hence the ‘Advent’ theme. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, it’s my turn and Ani very kindly agreed to host my sci-fi short story – The Christmas Roast. You can find it here:

Aniโ€™s Advent Calendar 2018! Just chilling with a story from A. C. Flory

Huge hugs to both Sue and Ani. I’ve enjoyed the Advent stories others have told and I hope everyone enjoys mine!

Meeks


I finally went and did it!

This one’s for Frank Prem who’s been houndingย strenuously encouraging me to try and interest a bookshop in my books. Well, today I walked into the independent bookshop in Eltham and asked if I could leave a free sample of my work. ๐Ÿ™‚

The sample is my tiny book of sci-fi short stories:

The paperback of The Egg is so thin, there’s no room on the spine for the title! But when I realised how cheaply I could print it on IngramSpark, I decided to use it as my ‘calling card’.

Getting back to that bookshop, I’ve been carrying a copy of The Egg around with me for weeks, but the moment was never right. It was too hot, too cold, I wasn’t dressed ‘appropriately’, I was too busy with other things…in short, I was a coward. I’m still a coward, but something clicked in my brain today, and I did the deed. I was dressed to do supermarket shopping so probably looked like a deranged bag lady, but I did it!

The owner of the shop was very nice and said she’d have to look at the book before offering it to her customers, even as a free sample. I reassured her that I expected nothing less. In reality, however, I don’t expect her to read it at all, and I don’t expect her to get in contact with me for another sample. Why? Because looking around the shop, I realised that sci-fi, even from big, traditional authors, is only a very small part of the books offered for sale. So the Egg is not exactly a good ‘fit’.

I also realised that dealing with a self-published author would inevitably cause a disruption to the normal processes of the shop. Why go to so much bother for a genre that probably doesn’t sell very well? Realistically, that is the truth, and I suspect I’d probably feel the same if the roles were reversed.

Nevertheless, I’m not disappointed. I overcame my nerves and gave it a shot, and that was the real purpose of the exercise. To prove to myself that I could. Next stop will be a second hand bookshop in Warrandyte and a cafe that leaves books lying around on the tables for customers to read.

If you guys have any suggestions for real world ‘marketing’, I’m all ears!

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 


How to digitise real world objects for 3D printing

I’m stuck at home with a bad back and feeling rather sorry for myself, so this post by SV3DPRINTER was very welcome indeed. It not only gave me something else to focus on, it also gave me the tech that would make the world of Innerscape plausible rather than just possible.

Science fiction is always speculative fiction, so I knew that much of the ‘science’ in Innerscape was actually just magic based on tech that ‘might’ develop in the future. Nevertheless, I’ve always tried to make that speculation as close to reality as possible. That’s why I get so excited whenever something in Innerscape turns out to be ‘doable’.

Today, my discovery explains how all of Petra could be scanned and re-created inside a virtual environment. In the video clip below, the section on scanning terrain is only a small part of the presentation, but it made my day. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

And no, I didn’t know about these scanning technologies when I wrote Innerscape. I’m only an amateur techie, and I haven’t had a chance to explore the current Virtual Reality technology, so I simply assumed that a digital world would be produced the same way apps like Maya create digital models and gaming worlds now. Since watching this video clip, however, I’ve realised that re-creating the outside world for Innerscape will be a lot easier, and more accurate, than I originally thought, especially so far into the future.

Of course, the downside of each discovery is that my timescale for Innerscape becomes a little bit less likely. I mean, who would have thought ten years ago that 3D printing would become so commonplace so quickly? Or the internet. Who could have guessed that social media would become both a boon and a bane by 2018?

Honestly, the only thing any of us can say with any certainty is that the future will not be anything like what we imagine now. But that’s okay; perfect predictions would take all the excitement out of life. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, time to lever myself out of this chair and walk around a bit.

cheers

Meeks


The making of an Iron Age torc

In an earlier post I wrote about the Snettisham Great Torc, and how it had been created by artisans 2000 years ago. Well today I have something even more exciting to share – a video about how these amazingly beautiful objects were made using the simplest tools imaginable. And here it is:

Roughly half way through, the presenter talks about how she experimented with the technique by casting her own ingot of bronze and then patiently hammering it out into a thin piece of wire. The Iron Age artisan who made the torc must have been a master craftsman with a whole bunch of lesser journeymen and apprentices to help with the backbreaking work, but still, can you imagine how long it would have taken? And how many failures there would have been along the way? The skill, dedication and commitment of these craftmen is beyond my comprehension.

Once again, my thanks to Dawn of Dawn Gill Designs for finding this incredible video and sending me the link to it. If you haven’t yet guessed, Dawn is the blogger I call Silversmith because she makes beautiful pieces of jewellery. She’s also my go-to-person when I need information on crafting techniques. -waves at Dawn-

Okay, back to work. Today I upload Vokhtah and its new cover to Lulu! Vokhtah was my first book and the only one I have never been able to physically hold in my hands. Finally getting a print copy will signify the end of a learning curve that began in 2004. So excited. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks


Please join me on Myths of the Mirror today!

D. Wallace Peach is a sci-fi/fantasy writer that I have followed for quite a while now, usually by lurking around her blog – Myths of the Mirror. But she caught me and did me the great honour of reading Miira. And she liked it. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a quote from her review:

The pace is steady and yet I flew through the book because I could NOT put it down. Exquisite writing, gorgeous descriptions, high tech science, and human pathos that grab the reader. Iโ€™m a fan and gladly recommend this book to readers of science fiction and anyone who enjoys an unusual human story.

And then she invited me onto her blog. Of course I said ‘yes!’, but I’m still gobsmacked just to be asked. Please come say hello to D. and all her friends. Partay… ๐Ÿ˜€

A Human Story: Guest Post with Andrea Flory

-hugs-

Meeks


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