Tag Archives: virtual-reality

My Favourite Bits…Nabatea

Due to the difficulty of finding excerpts that don’t give too much away, I’m only going to post one favourite bit from Nabatea, and this is it:

The control room of the Innerscape facility was hushed as all eyes watched the numbers counting down on the wrap-around wall monitors.

“Any second now,” the duty tech said softly.

Standing right behind the tech, Phil Jacobs could see for himself that Alex Tang, murdered two days before by Kenneth Wu, was finally breathing his last.

The AI and specialist medical teams had done their best, but the outcome had never really been in doubt. It had simply been a matter of time. Now, all the monitors focused on Alex Tang’s vital statistics told the same story – he had put up a heroic fight, but the battle was almost over.

Relief and sadness jostled for position in Phil’s mind as he stared at the heart monitor.

“Flatline,” the duty tech said, his voice almost drowned out by the bleep of the alarm.

The heart monitor was joined a moment later by the Brain Interface Monitor.

Patting the tech on the shoulder, Phil signalled for the alarms to be turned off. In the sudden silence, the voice of the AI seemed unnecessarily loud as it confirmed brain death at 1:46 pm, Sunday the 25th of December, 2101.

Merry Christmas, Phil thought as he affixed his biometric signature to the death certificate.

“Inform the police forensic team that death is confirmed.”

“Yes, sir.”

Glancing up at the wraparound screen, Phil watched as the yellow-clad technicians waiting in the Catacombs sprang into action. They, too, had been waiting for Alex Tang to die, and now that he was gone, they were free to take possession of his containment unit…with him still in it.

Once the unit was disconnected, the forensic team would put it inside one of their huge Hospice trucks and take it away for examination.

“I don’t get it,” the duty tech said as he watched the frenzied activity on the central monitor. “Why all the portable batteries? It’s not as if they need to keep him alive during transit. And why take his AI as well?”

“They probably don’t want to miss anything,” Phil replied, his tone bleak.

“But we already know how he died.”

“No one’s ever been murdered by the common cold before,” Phil replied, his eyes never leaving the monitor. “So this is all new territory. And they don’t trust our systems.”

In fact, the police had found a great deal not to trust, from Innerscape’s reliance on the AI to Phil’s own handling of security.

Dr Jacobs, can you explain why you didn’t revoke Dr Wu’s permissions when he left Innerscape?”

Just thinking of that interview made Phil’s ears burn hot. He had been forced to explain that, as Kenneth had not, technically, been fired, he could not, technically, have his permissions revoked. It had even, technically, been true as the AI did assign security permissions automatically, based on the employee’s position in the company.

What Phil had left unsaid was that those permissions could have been changed manually, using the CEO’s executive override, had anyone foreseen the need to do so. But no one had.

Least of all me, he thought as he forced his eyes away from the monitors. If he had, Alex Tang might still be alive. But then again, who could have guessed that Kenneth Wu would turn rogue?

For those who have never read any of Innerscape, each patient’s body is kept in a containment unit, about the size of a large coffin. Each containment unit has its own AI whose job it is to keep the body alive and functioning. Once the patient is in the containment unit, nothing is allowed to enter the sealed internal environment because even a breath of outside air could introduce a virus or bacteria. Nothing deadly. Just the common cold. Opening the door to the containment unit is a death sentence.

Why did I choose this short excerpt from the very start of book 3? Because every time I read it, I’m surprised that I wrote it.

Since publishing Vokhtah in 2013, I’ve become a lot more comfortable calling myself a writer, but there are times when I still feel like a bit of a fraud. Me? A writer? Yeah, right. But when I read this bit I feel as if yes, maybe I do deserve that title after all.

I really like the epilogue as well, but I can’t tell you about that, or about Kenneth’s grandmother, or the scent of lemon, or sensory deprivation, or a host of other things. All I can do is hope that you take a chance and read Nabatea for yourselves on February 16th when it begins its five days of free on Amazon.

cheers
Meeks


5 stars for The Godsend!

This day really couldn’t get any better. Just found this new review for The Godsend:

‘WOW the action certainly ramps up in this second book of the series. Miira and Jamie are trapped outside Innerscape and in mortal danger, there’s an assassin determined to kill The Burned Man, the falsely accused Kenneth Wu reappears, and much, much more.

Excuse me, Book 3 is calling my name – loudly…’

Click here to see the review on Amazon UK. Click the link to see The Godsend on Amazon US or Amazon Australia.

I am so happy I could pop! My thanks to the wonderful Chris Graham, otherwise known as the Story Reading Ape. Not only is this an awesome review, it would make a brilliant blurb. -dance-

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

love,
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’.

 


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. 🙂

 

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. 🙂

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

cheers

Meeks


#Corel X8 vector graphics vs photos

In my last post about the new Innerscape cover, I vented about the trouble I was having getting the silver effect I wanted. Your suggestions were brilliant so I thought I’d do a quick update of my progress. The pic below is a test graphic to illustrate the difference between the two methods and how they might look in the finished product:

The silver ‘wire’ was created using Corel X8’s fountain fill. It is clearly silver, even when I reduce the size down, i.e. it scales well. Unfortunately it is absolutely uniform, something a real ‘wire’ would never be.

By contrast, the gold ‘wire’ is a photo taken of a thin needle shape covered in foil. The foil was silver, but the lighting created this decidedly golden effect [evening, overhead light and table lamp, both with bulbs of ‘warm white’]. I only know this with the wisdom of hindsight. 😦 If you look closely at the column on the right, you will see that when I increase the size of the gold wire, it becomes more and more pixelated, i.e. it doesn’t scale well. [Clicking on the image should display a larger version]

Finally, I created two, identical slices of the circuit board. Both were made by creating the individual components and ‘grouping’ them together. The silver, vectored one is shown below:

Although each of the tubular components comes from the one, basic shape, I fiddled with the fountain fill to a) make the image more realistic, and b) to reduce the uniformity. The golden slice is also made up of individual components, but essentially I just cut them out and stuck them together. I really like the way the image turned out, and I like the golden colour, but it’s not what I was after.

Which will I use?

This question is not as either/or as it looks. In designing the covers for the Innerscape print version, I wanted each one to:

  • have a unifying ‘theme’
  • be different
  • tell a subtle visual ‘story’

Thus, as book 1 is about Miira leaving the real world and entering a virtual one, I want her facing towards the stark, artificial image of the circuit board. That’s why the image has to be instantly recognizable as part of a computer. Books 2 and 3, however, will show a gradual blurring of the lines between real and virtual, with the changing circuit board being the unifying ‘theme’ that binds each image of the series.

At least, that’s the idea. Whether I can actually pull off this ambitious idea is moot. To make it work I’ll have to create two, completely different images of the circuit board – one with the silver wires and one with the gold. As each small wire will be made up of at least 3 components, it’s going to be a huge job. Not impossible, but it will test my patience as the original circuit board image has very few wires that are exactly the same.

To be honest I think I’m crazy to even think about doing this, and yet…how often do you get to create your first print book? Sitting here, calmly typing about my options, I know I’d hate myself if I gave this project anything less than my best, and fudging the graphics would definitely be a cop out. So…I’m going to be a busy girl. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Boomers and #VR [virtual reality]

One of the first friends I ever made online is George, of Ready, Aim Click. George is also my go-to person for info on graphics, gaming and the tech that drives both. This is the eye-popping youtube video he just sent me:

If you’re getting a bit long in the tooth, like me, and wondering what all this VR bunk is all about, this video may change your mind about the value of the technology. I know, because it’s changed mine. I WANT IT NOW! -cough- Sorry.

The VR equipment you see in the video clip is probably top of the line and so expensive I can’t see me buying it any time soon. But…prices will drop, eventually, and when they do, this little old lady is going to be at the head of the queue. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Innerscape, Episode 3 – late but live. :)

At last! The price on Innerscape, Episode 3 has finally dropped to $0.00. It will stay free for the next 5 days [November 29, 2016 to December 3, 2016], so please grab your copy while you can. I know I shouldn’t say this but…Episode 3 will shock you. And that’s all I’m saying. 😀

You can download a free copy of Episode 3 from Amazon at the following URL:

https://www.amazon.com/Innerscape-Episode-3-C-Flory-ebook/dp/B01N69SI93/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1480406798&sr=8-4&keywords=kindle+Innerscape

And now for the competition.

Duration: 5 days from November 29, 2016 to December 3, 2016

The prize = a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift voucher.

The rules = read the Look Inside below, find the answer to the multiple choice question, also below, and write the answer in comments [either as a name or the number of the option]. Only 1 entry per person.

The question = Who was Alex Tang’s husband?

  1. Mei Lin?
  2. Barry Majors?
  3. Peter Ngugen?

You will need to use the back button on your browser to come back from the Look Inside.

And now that the official business is taken care of…LOOK!

innerscape-recommended

-blush- Sorry, I have never had one of my novels in the ‘Also Viewed’ list before. You guys must be doing something right. Thank you. 😀

-hugs-

Meeks


#VR – Virtual reality – ‘suit’

In Innerscape, I imagined an immersion ‘tank’ as the the technology for the top end of virtual reality gaming, but this suit is miles better. And its technology is perhaps five years away, not 80 plus.

If you don’t want to watch the video, have a look at this article from Gizmag:

http://www.gizmag.com/axonvr-virtual-reality-suit/43179/

More and more, I’m realising that the future is now. Heaven only knows what the real future will bring!

cheers

Meeks


Is the #metaverse just around the corner?

quartz metaverse

‘SEATTLE — Philip Rosedale wants to build the Metaverse, the virtual reality experience depicted in the Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash so many years ago. His first-generation attempt to do so was Second Life, the virtual world created by his former company Linden Lab…’

This article in Quartz sparked my interest because I actually tried Second Life, twice. The first time was some years ago when it was at the peak of its ‘buzz’. The second time was only last year. Both times were a disappointment, but perhaps that’s because I was evaluating the experience from the viewpoint of a gamer. To me, the Second Life graphics were ugly and clunky, the movement was clunky, the ‘crafting’ was ‘too hard’, and the whole thing just felt second best instead of immersive. But I did like the idea behind the experience – i.e. to be able to do in a virtual world everything you could do in the real one [shades of Innerscape, anyone?].

Sadly, I suspect Rosedale’s implementation of a metaverse will be just as clunky as the implementation of Second Life. But again, that’s not to say that someone won’t get it right.

Will that be within the next 20 years?

Honestly, I don’t think so. Technology takes leaps and bounds, and breaks out in unexpected areas – think mobile phone vs computer – but there is a world of difference between being able to produce an alpha grade prototype and creating the kind of technology that is as commonplace as the light switch. Yet that is what we will need if we are to stitch together the whole digital world into a metaverse.

Negatives aside, however, good on Rosedale for thinking big. You can find the complete Quartz article here:

https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/26908997/847472368

cheers

Meeks


‘Real’ Virtual Reality one step closer

As the pace of writing Innerscape accelerates, I’m finding echoes all over the place, and today was no exception. I found the following excerpt in a Venturebeat article – one of my favourite tech news sources :

“The VR experience is set in the Lord of the Rings universe, with viewers taking on the role of a hobbit thief. It began in a massive treasure chamber, one so large that I had to crane my neck fully to see it all. Dimly lit piles of coins shimmered under my feet. I could see even dimmer caves in the distance, set off by massive statues on either side. I had to physically turn around to take it all in.

Some of the coin piles began to move, with gold sliding down toward my virtual feet. Smaug, an enormous dragon, pushed his face out of a large pile and began to swim around the coins, Scrooge McDuck style. He began to speak in a thunderous voice, claiming that he could smell a thief among his treasures. Smaug circled me, forcing me to turn around in circles to keep track of his motion. His movements and voice became increasingly aggressive — so much so that I caught myself stepping back as he moved nearby….”

You can find the complete article at the following link, including a great photo of Smaug :

http://venturebeat.com/2015/03/04/weta-digital-partners-with-oculus-rift-and-epic-games-for-a-new-vr-experience/

[Translator’s note : Nvidia make graphic chips, Weta created Gollum et al., for the Lord of the Rings, and I assume Oculus created the VR device used in the virtual reality experience.]

I’m definitely not the first to imagine a virtual reality world, but at this rate I may become the first writer to publish a VR story just as virtual reality morphs from science fiction wish list to real reality.

Ouch. I think I twisted my brain with that last sentence. Anyway, enjoy the article while I get back to Miira and co. 🙂

Meeks


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