Tag Archives: scifi

Proof of concept – Innerscape

Forgive the grandiose title, but I’ve just read an article on Medium that details the current research aimed at creating a computer-brain interface. And that concept, taken to an extreme level, is precisely what Innerscape is all about.

I’ve known about some of the technologies for some time, but I was truly surprised by how much, and how varied, those technologies are. Some are clearly still in their infancy, but I see great potential for others…including football fans. 🙂

No, I’m not kidding. The article below contains a video about a very special ‘kickoff’. The person doing the kickoff [first kick of the game] is wearing an exoskeleton, and he’s paralyzed. He’s moving the exoskeleton with his brain. That is little short of a miracle.

You can watch a video of that kickoff, and read about the other technologies in development here: https://medium.com/predict/brain-computer-interfaces-the-next-step-in-human-evolution-a0e0723a1791

One thing I very much like about the article is that it talks openly about the elephant in the room – the ethics of some of these technologies. We humans have a habit of jumping into new tech feet first, so enamoured of the potential for good [or profit] that we wilfully ignore the potential for harm. And there is always potential for harm.

It’s Good Friday here in Australia so I’ll wish you all a Safe and Happy Easter if you celebrate it. If not, may you have a Safe and Happy Holiday.

Much love,
Meeks


Final Freebie – 3 more days

The 6th, and last, free ebook I’m offering is the Innerscape Omnibus which includes all three books of the Innerscape trilogy.

As the title says, the Innerscape Omnibus is free for about 3 more days, depending on your timezone. The promotion ends on April 3, 2021.

US https://www.amazon.com/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103285&sr=8-1

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103337&sr=8-1

Australia https://www.amazon.com.au/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103385&sr=8-1

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103433&sr=8-1

India https://www.amazon.in/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103493&sr=8-1

If you are not in one of these Amazon marketplaces, you can find the Omnibus by going to the Amazon search box and typing:

Innerscape Omnibus acflory

While you’re there, perhaps you could check out some of the wonderful books written by Sue Vincent: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1617227018&sr=8-1


Meeks



Final Freebie – Innerscape Omnibus

The 6th, and last, free ebook I’m offering is the Innerscape Omnibus which includes all three books of the Innerscape trilogy.

If you’ve already downloaded the individual books, there’s no need to download the Omnibus, unless you want to, of course. 😉

The Omnibus is free on Amazon now, and I’ve provided some of the major links to the various Amazon market places below. As with the first five books, the Omnibus will be free for 5 days [ending April 3, 2021].

US https://www.amazon.com/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103285&sr=8-1

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103337&sr=8-1

Australia https://www.amazon.com.au/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103385&sr=8-1

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103433&sr=8-1

India https://www.amazon.in/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103493&sr=8-1

I left the Omnibus until last because I intend to unpublish it on April 14, 2021 which is two days after I first published it on April 12, 2020 – an almost-anniversary. I know we’re not in the clear from Covid yet, but at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so I feel it’s a good time to retire this particular version. I may drag it out of mothballs for the odd special occasion, but for now it will enjoy a well earned rest. 😀

I would love everyone to grab a copy of the Omnibus while it’s free. I’d also urge anyone who hasn’t grabbed a copy of the other books to do so now, while they’re still 99c. On April 3, they will all return to their normal pricing.

I’ve tried not to check the Amazon reports too often so I’ve been gobsmacked by how many people have downloaded the books. I’ve also been incredibly heartened by the wonderful reviews they’ve all received. That was a very pleasant surprise as I’d only been hoping for a couple of reviews for Miira and Vokhtah. Thank you, all of you. -hugs-


Meeks



How to make a primitive torch

One of the things that distinguishes the iVokh Traders from the normal iVokh is that Traders aren’t afraid of fire. In fact, they light their underground cave system with burning torches. This means the colour of the light is different – yellow flame vs blue glowworm – and the smell is distinctive.

That all came from my imagination, but now I’m writing scenes that require a more factual approach, so how did primitive peoples make torches?

I was extremely lucky to find this fabulous article online: http://www.junglecraft.com.my/index.php/how-to-make-a-burning-torch/ Not only did it explain which, easy-to-find materials were used, it also included a video showing exactly how the torches were made:

The whole video is fascinating, but the highlight for me was around the 6 minute mark.

So, what are these primitive materials, and would the iVokh have access to them?

The main ingredient in primitive torches [in the Malaysia jungle] is rosin. If any of you have played the violin, you’ll know that rosin is vital for the bow [thanks Dad]:

Rosin is a solid form of resin, the sticky substance that comes from trees that is not unlike sap….Violin rosin is made by heating fresh liquid resin, until it becomes solid. It smells a bit like pine and has a glassy, orange look.

Quote taken from: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/instruments/violin/what-is-rosin-why-violinists-need-it/

I underlined the bit about the smell of ‘pine’ because that too is a distinctive feature of the Traders’ caves.

But wait…there’s more. I did ballet as a kid and I remember putting rosin on the soles of my ballet shoes – for grip . In fact, as I went from link to link, I discovered that rosin has a million and one uses, even today. Not so primitive after all. 🙂

Anyway, rosin is only one of the ingredients used to make primitive torches; ‘punky wood’ [dried rotten wood] is the other. Crumbled together in a 50/50 ratio, this mixture will burn quite happily for a couple of hours.

In the Junglecraft video, the presenter used bamboo as the locally sourced ‘container’ for the torch, but I’m pretty sure most of the inhabitable parts of Vokhtah are savanah rather than jungle, so I think the iVokh would have used animal horns instead. I haven’t actually created a horned creature per se, but I’m sure there must be a few somewhere in Vokhtah. Maybe down south where where only the Traders have been… 😉

So there you have it, my latest bit of research. I had fun, and I hope you did too.

Before I finish though, I have a small rant to get off my chest: I HATE the new preview function in WordPress. With the old Preview function, I could preview my post in a new tab and can jump back and forth between the two tabs, fixing typos as I find them.

With the new Preview function, I get a floating [sic] pane that can’t be moved. As the ‘edit post’ screen is underneath the preview pane, I have to close the pane each time I find a typo. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit. Then reopen it to continue proofing. Then close it to edit…

Grrrr! Do none of the ‘Happiness Engineers’ ever test run their ‘improvements’? Or do none of the testers bother to fix bloody typos? Ahem… Okay, end rant.

cheers
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…Vokhtah [2]

Flying. We’ve all had the dreams, and most of us have travelled at some point in our lives, so we know what it’s like to be up in the air, flying through the cloud layer. Or looking down, and seeing cars the size of ants. But back when I was young and stupid, I had the glorious experience of flying in absolute silence, with nothing to hold me up but the air. I’m talking about gliding of course:

As you can see from the photo, gliders have no engine at all, and rely on those incredible wings to stay in the air. Getting up into the air usually requires a ‘tow’ from a plane that does have an engine. The two are connected by a long cable and the plane literally pulls the glider up into the air. Once they’re high enough, the cable disconnects and the glider is on its own.

The most amazing thing, however, is being in the air. I was only ever passenger material, but I’ll never forget how amazing it felt to be up there, cradled in the thermal, watching the world change around me.

A thermal is a column of warm air that rises until it cools [at the top]. Birds and glider pilots use thermals to gain height and spiral up inside the thermal. Once they’re high enough, they can glide for miles until they reach another thermal, or decide to land.

Part of the reason I gave the Vokh and iVokh wings was because I never forgot how wonderful it felt to glide. Not all iVokh are good at flying though. In the following short excerpt, the main character [the Messenger] is trying to catch up to the caravan [on the ground] that had left without it. An expert Flyer is sent up to help:

Up in the air, the Messenger was focused so hard on reaching the cluster of tiny dots on the distant hillside, it did not notice the Flyer approaching. It almost stalled when the small Trader suddenly dropped down on it from above.

“What doing here Messenger?” the Flyer shrilled into the wind as it cupped its wings to match the slower speed of the healer.
“Caravan…” the Messenger huffed.

The two iVokh flew side by side for a short while in silence as the Flyer tried to send a message to the Apprentice. The small Trader only had a very weak talent, and was not having much success until it suddenly felt the Apprentice bridge the gap between them. Huffing in relief, it quickly informed the Apprentice who was coming, and why.

“Thinking Messenger being very determined,” it added, “because not being very good flyer…”

There was a short silence before the Apprentice asked, “Can helping Messenger flying this far?

“Can helping Messenger flying easier,”the Flyer sent back. “But healer already looking exhausted.”
Doing whatever can,the Apprentice sent back.

Messenger!” the Flyer shrilled. Flying into wind being too hard. Following!

The Messenger was well aware that flying into a headwind was difficult; it had been battling the wind since leaving Two Rivers. Unfortunately, it simply did not know any other way of reaching the caravan.

“Not…turning back!” it wheezed as it continued pumping its tired wings into the wind.
“Ki!” the Flyer shrilled. “Taking to caravan!”

Despite the Flyer’s assurances, the Messenger continued straight ahead for a long moment before finally nodding in agreement. Even so, when the Flyer began banking to the left, away from the hills, the Messenger had to force itself to follow.

Its wings wobbled, threatening to lose their grip on the air as the wind began pushing it sideways. Panic was very close when it finally felt the sudden uplift of a thermal beneath its wings.

Delight erased fear as it rose effortlessly on the current of warm air. The Flyer had been right. It was much easier flying with the elements than against them.

I hope you enjoy this vicarious bit of flying. 🙂 Have any of you flown? Are any of you pilots? Gliders? Would love to hear your experiences.

Oh, and you can find direct links to the free download of Vokhtah here.

cheers
Meeks


A dark song for a dark scene

This is not the post I’d planned, but I’m utterly taken with this music and just had to share. It’s another one of Lucas King’s piano compositions, and it’s called The Silent Place. It also happens to be perfect for a scene I just wrote about Death [Vokhtah 2].

Enjoy,
Meeks


Keiree – a review

I have enjoyed a great many books in the last few years, but I have not reviewed all of them because…well because life gets in the way, doesn’t it? But sometimes a story grabs me enough for me to get off my butt and say why. This is the review I just left on Amazon for a scifi story called ‘Keiree’. I believe the book, and its author, deserve a great deal more attention from readers like us. So here it is:

Keiree, by C. Litka

I’ll start with Molly, a green silka cat whose breed has been genetically enhanced to understand human language, if not speak it.

That was enough for me to give ‘Keiree’ a go, but somewhere along the way the story snuck into my heart and took up residence there. I reached the end and kept swiping my Kindle, hoping for more. An epilogue, maybe. Or perhaps a link to a second book.

I found neither, and if the author reads this – please Sir, can I have more?

Not because the ending wasn’t right. It was perfect for /this/ story. But …I grew to love Gy and Molly. I’d really like to know what they did next. How they lived their lives /after/.

On a technical level, the definition of scifi is that the story could not have taken place without the technology, place or time of the world in which it’s set. Think Dune or The Left Hand of Darkness.

By that definition, Keiree is as scifi as you can get because it takes place on a terraformed Mars, many hundreds, or possibly even thousands, of years in our future. Cryosleep is commonplace, as is sophisticated genetic modification and all sorts of other, smaller, innovations that we would consider close to magic now. But while all these elements quietly define the place and time, it’s the people who truly shine.

People don’t change. Some are petty and avaricious. Some remain true, no matter the odds. Keiree is that kind of story. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

You can find ‘Keiree’ here. It’s at a ridiculously low price, so even if you don’t think you like scifi, please give it a go. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed. Hmm…unless you’re looking for space battles, lasguns and Terminator style robots. Wrong book, sorry. 😉

cheers
Meeks


Oopsie?

Apologies all, I may have got my timezones a bit mixed. Just checked on Amazon and The Vintage Egg is already free. I thought it wouldn’t go free until later this evening. 😦

I’ve listed the urls of the amazon websites I know:

Amazon.com [US]

Amazon.co.uk [UK]

Amazon.com.au [Australia]

Amazon.ca [Canada]

Amazon.in [India]

If you’re trying to find the Egg from somewhere else, please type ‘The Vintage Egg acflory’ in your amazon search box. That should take you to the Egg.

Sorry this is a bit late. Please grab a copy before the Egg stops being free on March 6th. lol I feel like asking whether you want it hard boiled or fried. 😉

cheers
Meeks


Characters – how close is too close?

I just finished a scifi space opera that could have been very good, but wasn’t. A big part of the reason was the author’s over use of internal monologue. I left a 3 star review, something I haven’t done in years, and a long explanation of why I felt the story only deserved a 3, but it’s still annoying me, hence this post.

For those who don’t know what I mean by ‘internal monologue’ it’s the character, talking to herself, but not out loud, hence ‘monologue’. In books, this internal monologue is usually shown in italics, to distinguish it from spoken dialogue.

When used properly, internal monologue is a powerful tool that betrays the character’s true feelings without the author having to say so. For example, I could say:

Jane smiled sweetly at her boss, but inside she was seething with rage.

Or I could make it more ‘show’ than ‘tell’ by changing it to:

Incompetent fool! Jane thought as she smiled sweetly at her boss.

The internal monologue of the second example provides an inside-outside view of the character that can be very powerful. Unfortunately, like all powerful tools, it should be used sparingly, and only when it actually serves a purpose. The story that earned my 3 star review used internal monologue almost constantly, for the most trivial of reasons. Something like:

Jane walked into the party and surveyed the crowd. Oh my. She was familiar with most of the party goers and did not like them. Then she spotted Tom. Thank god. Someone intelligent to talk to. etc etc etc

In the actual book, sentences like this were not exceptional. They happened with monotonous regularity, even during action scenes when the last thing you want to do is slow things down.

There’s another reason internal monologue should be used sparingly – a character with too many ‘warts’ is rarely likeable. Instead, they come across as whiny and self-obsessed, or arrogant smartarses. This can also happen with First Person POV – i.e. where the character tells the story from her own perspective saying things like “I did this” and “I felt that” etc.

In fairness I have to say that while I don’t generally like First Person POV, some of my favourite stories have been written from that very close perspective. C.J. Cherryh does it with the Foreigner series, and Audrey Driscoll did it with the Herbert West series. It can be done, and it can be done brilliantly, but First Person POV requires a mastery of the tool that far too many new authors do not possess.

The author of that 3 star story did not use First Person POV. Instead, the story is written in what’s called ‘Close Third’ – i.e. “She did this and she felt that”. There is distance between the character and the reader, but we get to see more of the internal workings of the character’s mind.

One of the tools used to create closeness is, of course, internal monologue, but it is not the only tool available to us. Describing a character’s body language can be a far more effective tool because it allows the reader to picture the scene and come to their own conclusions about what the character is doing or feeling. Showing the character from the perspective of another character is also very powerful because they can often see us as we really are instead of as we see ourselves…

-sigh-

And this is the point at which I have to say…’in my not so humble opinion’. I don’t often write process posts because I truly do not believe there is only one ‘correct’ way of writing a story, but sometimes I can’t help myself. This is one of those times.

Does this annoy anyone else, or am I being a ‘difficult woman’ again? lol Would love to know, but feel free to add any of your own pet peeves as well. 🙂

Meeks


My Favourite Bits…The Godsend [3]

To be quite blunt, I believe that digital innovation will be driven by three things: porn, gaming and medicine. Internet porn is already a huge industry, and so are MMO’s – massively multiplayer online games. Medicine will be the last of the triumvirate to arrive, but it will come because escaping from the real world has been a part of our DNA since early humans painted their hopes and dreams on the walls of caves.

I introduced gaming with Jaimie Watson, and the idea of gaming+porn with Leon in book 1 [Miira], but the focus remained on the purely digital world of Innerscape. In The Godsend, the gaming world of the Shogunate becomes the focus because that is where pure digital and real world escapism intersect for Miira and Jaimie.

The following is a scene that most gamers will recognize. In deference to non-gamers, I’ve kept it very short. lol

Feral Cat Whiskers And Other Junk

“I still don’t see why we have to kill all this low level junk,” Miira grumbled as she despatched her ninth wild dog. “I mean, did they even have wild dogs back then?”

“Yes, they did. Now stop complaining and hurry up,” Jaimie said. “I’m up to fifteen already.”

Miira glared at her partner but kept her mouth shut as she turned and shot an arrow at the next wild dog. Ten.

She and Jaimie had been killing low level vermin for hours, and she was bored to tears. Jaimie, however, was adamant, insisting that building their reputations with the villagers was more important than anything else.

When Miira asked why, Jaimie had simply said that a high reputation would stand them in good stead later, when they went up against bands of enemy players. Just exactly how this was supposed to work, though, he did not say.

fifteen

Given Jaimie’s knowledge of the game, Miira could not argue with his strategy, but that did not stop her from wishing she was elsewhere, doing something a bit more interesting.

Watching grass grow would be more interesting, she thought as she dispatched yet another wild dog.

“Twenty!” Jaimie announced with satisfaction. “You almost done?”

“Four more to go,” Miira said with a sigh. So far, the day’s total of useless quest items included 46 wild dog pelts, 90 rodent tails and 20 feral cat whiskers…

I’ve included this short scene amongst my Favourite Bits because ‘the grind’ – the time consuming, mindless repetition of pointless actions – has been a part of every single game* I have ever played, and I suspect it will be part of every game I play in the future. The grind also features in every LitRPG story I have ever read, so this scene is a nod to both.

For those who have never stumbled across the category of LitRPG on Amazon, it’s a subgenre of fiction based on the idea of a gamer, or a whole group of gamers, suddenly finding themselves ‘living’ in the game world. This always involves full sensory immersion – i.e. the game suddenly feels completely real – and the plot revolves around a) surviving in a game that can now kill you, and b) discovering how and why the game has become real. 

Some LitRPG is really awful because the grind is described in excruciating detail, as is the process of ranking up. At the other end of the scale, however, I’ve read LitRPG that made me want to live in that world. [see Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron or Ready Player One by Ernest Cline].

Innerscape is not LitRPG, but as a gamer, know what it feels like to become so immersed in a game that it starts to feel real…even in 2D. That feeling led me to ask ‘what would it take to make a digital world feel real?’ The answer became Innerscape.

And now, because this is supposed to be a marketing post, here’s the punchline:

The Godsend, book 2 of Innerscape, will be free on Amazon when the clock ticks around to February 2, 2021 in the US. For those of us in Australia, that’s at about 5pm today [Melbourne time]. The Godsend will remain free for five days, and then it will revert to the special promotion price of $1 until the last book comes off free on April 3, 2021. At that time all six books will revert to their pre-promotion pricing.

My aim with this long promotion is to force myself to do some marketing, give you some freebies, and help Miira and Vokhtah reach the magic 20 review mark [both are on 19 at the moment]. If you know anyone who enjoys scifi and wants some free books, please point them towards mine! Reviews are not necessary, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want some! Of course I do, but only if my stories have managed to help people escape the mundane for a little while.

Okay, that’s it. -breathes a sigh of relief-

Thanks for sticking with me,

cheers
Meeks

…*… If anyone is interested in the gaming side of things, you can find my gaming posts on the sidebar, under the category ‘Games for big kids’.

 


%d bloggers like this: