Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing tips from 'Coldtown' author

So I checked my e-mail today and found a brand-new National Novel Writing Month pep talk in my inbox. Normally I sort of skim these and move on with my life, but this one stuck out because of the author. It was Holly Black, writer of "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown," and of course many other sci-fi and fantasy works including The Spiderwick Chronicles, which has become a movie as well.

NaNoWriMo likes to send out these "pep talks" to its participants to try and keep us rolling along with the daunting word count. I sadly am behind, but plan to make up for lost time this weekend and over dead week. Anyway, I included a link to the pep talk in the title if you guys are interested in reading it. :]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Science Taking Science Fiction to Heart

I have a few links here showing just how seriously some in the scientific community are taking some of the things we have talked about in class:

The first is the possible unification of robots under one operating system similar to the AIs in River of Gods. Alternatively, this could lead down a more disastrous Matrix- or Terminator-style scenario. I don't know that we would have another universe handy to aid in the disposal of any uppity computer programs, so, should this come to pass, we may be in a bit of trouble (but it should be quite a ways off).

The second is a bit of research from the University of Ottawa which theorizes that a zombie outbreak would likely end humanity. Again, not likely to happen any time soon, but it is still interesting to see some scientists thinking about these pop-culture/fun things. And who knows, maybe the knowledge will come in handy some day...

Kids these Days

I have noticed lately that more and more kids are reading science fiction. While this is somewhat exciting, it is also a bit different. When I was in middle/high school it was not "cool" to be reading sci fi. In fact it was grounds for becoming a social outcast in some cases. Now, however, the most popular book in the school I student teach at is The Hunger Games, a science fiction/fantasy book about a girl forced to survive in a crazy alternate world. This book is pretty amazing for those of you who have not read it, but still a bit out there in my opinion. Also, in the young adult section of Barnes and Nobles, if you can search through all of the books dedicated to nauseating vampire romances, you will find numerous science fiction books. The other day they had an entire display dedicated to The Hunger Games, Little Brother and M.T. Anderson's The Feed (another pretty good read).

So what do you guys think. Is sci fi making a comeback? Has it never gone away? Or are kids just getting cooler by the second? (hint: the last one is probably not the correct answer)

Paper 2 Topic

So narrowing down the paper topic has been rather difficult. Right now there are two topics I'm torn between. Both topics refer to The Windup Girl.
First is the role of the anti-hero. There seems to be a lack of heroes as most characters primarily look out only (or mostly) for themselves.
The second topic relates to the setting. I'm curious about the post-apocalyptic nature of The Windup Girl, and maybe how it relates to other similar stories. For example, a comparison of the survivalist nature of characters in The Windup Girl to the father and son in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or the attempt at maintaining government and society compared to other post-apolalyptic stories such as The Children of Men.
I'll go over these in more detail in class.

Robot Actors?

So, apparently in Japan they have debuted a robot actress. I initially thought "oh! This will be like River of Gods." Sadly (or fortunately?) I was wrong. The robot is not pre-programed to act, she's controlled by actors back stage. If you watch the video, she seems very fake. She seems more like a robotic puppet than an actress. I guess she could accomplish a certain artistic effect though. If you want one character to be detached and robot-like, why not just use a robot?

Science Fiction Turned Into Fact

There's a link in the title to an article that I thought was really interesting. It's basically just a list of a few different gadgets from the world of science fiction that are becoming a reality. The list includes a portable machine created by researchers at Yale that will indicate signs of sickness from a blood test in just twenty minutes, which resembles the "Medical Tricorder" from Star Trek. To be honest, I've never actually watched Star Trek, but this seems pretty cool. Also, there are 3D holograms (from many examples in Sci Fi, perhaps most famously when R2-D2 projected one of Princess Leia in Star Wars), which a group of researchers at Arizona State are currently working on. According to the article, it might not be long before we have our class sessions with a 3D hologram of Andy in the room with us. My favorite, though, being the Harry Potter fan that I am, is the cloaking device, which the article compares to Harry's invisibility cloak (naturally). It has something to do with material that bends light in a way that makes it look as if the object weren't there at all... I don't really get it. But it sounds awesome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cory Doctorow vs. George Orwell

My second paper topic for this class is going to deal with Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. While reading Little Brother, I kept thinking back to George Orwell's 1984. I noticed that Doctorow's novel has heavy influences by George Orwell including the title itself. But I saw that the more obvious example of 1984 was not the only George Orwell novel that influenced this book. I saw that Orwell's Animal Farm was also influential in the book. Animal Farm discusses the revolution seen in Doctorow's novel.

Topic: Explore the influences of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm in Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

A List for Your Consideration

While trolling my favorite website, I found a link to this list of the hundred best sci-fi/fantasy series. There are a lot of shows I'm not familiar with, but I generally agree with it. I don't personally like a lot of the shows, but I can respect the fan followings. I hate that Star Trek has to be on top lists, because it bores me to tears, and just because it is old doesn't mean it's any good*. My ~favorite show made number fifteen, which is kind of hilarious based on how awful it's been the last two seasons. Heroes came in at number 80; as a bitter ex-fan, this fills my cold, dead heart with Glee. I've never been able to sit through a whole episode of Dr. Who, so I don't know how good it is. Actually, now that I think about it, number three should be number one, number seven should be number three, and numbers two and ten should switch places.

Questions, comments, complaints?

*please note that this only applies to the original series, because Picard and Janeway were awesome.

The Futuro House

This enthusiastic fan site is devoted to the Futuro House, a mass-produced flying saucer designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968.  You still see Futuro Houses, here and there -- and if you see one not on the Flight Log, please report it, as the chief purpose of the site is to catalog all Futuro Houses that remain. The list shows none in Alabama and Maryland, alas.

I probably wouldn't want to live full time in a Futuro House, but I'd happily use one as an office, a lakeside cabin, or a guest room.

ABC' s Castle again

I love this show more and more every time I watch it. This week's episode? ALIENS. Castle and Detective Beckett were researching the murder of an astrophysicist who seemed to believe she had been abducted by extra-terrestrials. Not only did this make me happy because of the novel I'm currently working on, but it was just a really fun episode in general. I won't give anything away in case you guys haven't watched it yet and you want to, but I will say this... The number of Firefly references this week far surpassed any episode of Castle I've seen thus far. From Nathan Fillion's maroon-shirt, brown-coat outfit in one scene to him yelling at some Chinese workers in a meat-packing plant and upon receiving an odd look from Beckett claiming "I learned from a TV show I used to love."
Ahhh, it made me happy. :] Hope all you other Castle fans enjoyed/will enjoy it too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DRM and Little Brother

First, some background.

For those who don't know what DRM is, it stands for digital rights management. What it was supposed to do was allow companies to enforce copyrights. What it did was make it a nightmare for people to backup their libraries and in one instance installed a root-kit, which is a tool often used by hackers to screw with other people's computers undetected. Which brings up the current controversy between Android, Netflicks, and Hollywood.

If you haven't read the articles yet, do it now.

The thing is Hollywood, rightfully, is worried about piracy, but is getting dangerously close to where Sony was five years ago. The reason Android doesn't have a Netflicks app is because the platform is too open. This brings up some interesting questions about the future of open platforms, such as linux and Android. By closing platforms are we trading freedom for security, and getting neither? Linux has a reputation of security, it's open nature allows security holes to be found very quickly by the community and patched just as quickly. Windows is a close platform and several iterations have become notorious for their security holes. The Mac OS is another closed platform that was believed by many to be "secure," but has become increasingly targeted as Apple computers become more popular.

In short, I guess I'm asking if this seems like a case of giving up real liberty in exchange for illusionary security.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Technology & Proposals

So one of my close friends is thinking about proposing to his girlfriend of like 4 years. He sent me this link the other day (in the title) which I didn't read as I was busy and he usually just sends me useless articles. So this afternoon he asked me if I had gotten it and I was like yeah and he started to get really excited and asked me what I thought. Well I told him I hadn't read it yet, and his bubble slightly deflated. He told me to go and read it and call him when I was done.

After reading it I jumped around for about 20 minutes and got really excited. He's going to do the same type of thing with an engagement ring come May. While I was reading it I thought it sounded a bit like geo-caching, and as that is something we have previously discussed I thought I'd post this as well. Science Fiction in my mind always entails technology, so I was amused when I read this story. Enjoy!

Holy Holograph!

Holy smokes. So I was just looking around at different topics online, and I stumbled across this. Japan has yet again shown it's technological creativity- I can't imagine going to a concert with a holographic performer. The video is definitely worth watching just because it's a rather unbelievable idea. The one thing that popped into my head though was "I wonder how the drummer and guitarist feel about this". It has to be even stranger for them to perform with a holograph.