Sunday, March 3, 2013

Everything is Material

Sorry about last week. The fewmets hit the windmill at work and when I looked up it was Tuesday.

Science fiction is an art form in which ideas form part of the fabric of the story. The nature of SF causes one of the perennial questions writers get: where do you get your ideas?

For some reason there's a sort of sub-culture mythos surrounding this question as if it were some sort of bad question to ask. I find this curious. If you asked someone who had written about a dysfunctional town regarding the source material I don't think there would be any problem with answering.

Maybe the problem is the question is too broad. "Ideas" isn't really a specific term.

I like recasting things. This question can be recasted to "what serves as inspiration for stories?"

Well -- (a moment to stretch out my fingers) -- I can answer that.

Here is a collection of article references that tweeked my particular fancies. They may or may not serve as inspiration for a story but they certainly get me thinking. And thinking, after all, is really where ideas and stories come from. These are sort of notes.

This image is called Gray's Anatomy. It's on deviant art here. By Lisa Breczel and was done for the International Make Up Artist Trade Show in L.A. Consider the imagery of blending an anatomical print on top of the actual anatomy of a living, breathing human being. Humans have a natural tendency to modify their own looks. Think bower birds, too. We've seen body modification like this in SF-- in Neuromancer  for example. It's central in The Stars My Destination. Like to see Berczel do the tattooing for a TSMD movie. But, more importantly, think creatively about this sort of thing for future inclusion. (Via io9.)

How to be a Psychic: From Base a story on a fake psychic? One of the best elements of the otherwise overly sentimental Ghost was Whoopi Goldberg's reluctant psychic. On the other hand, think of Stan Marsh in South Park: "Whatever is behind life and death has to be way more amazing than the things this asshole does." Go with manipulation. When is it immoral to manipulate another person? We do that as parents all the time. So do politicians. Ministers. Priests. Is everything a magic trick?

This was an attempt at a high speed, over water, transportation system. It was huge-- the ekranoplan had a 37 meter wingspan and weight 550 tons. Essentially flew in ground effect. Smaller version (the Lun) was actually used. Imagine effect of high speed, cheap over water transport. No problems with reefs-- "flew" at up to 20 meters over the surface of the water. Attempted in the 80s before modern 21st century materials. (Via io9.)

Nikolai Kardashev created the Kardashev Scale for civilizations. This was based on energy usage. Type 1 use all energy available to the home planet: sun, geologic, chemical, etc. Type 2 use all energy available from the home star-- possibly enclosing it in a Dyson Sphere. Type 3 use all energy available from the home galaxy. We're not yet at a Type 1 status. This was based on a 1963 view of the universe where the energy is viewed centrally (planet, sun, galaxy.) However, we now know that the majority of mass and energy in the universe is distributed in the form of dark energy and dark matter. How should that view our thinking of ET civilizations? (Via io9.)

Mauritia was the continent that linked Madagascar and India way back during the Precambrian. Looks like it may have started to resurface due to volcanic activity. Think about the ramifications of deep time. A time travel story that has to take plate tectonics directly into account? Or a story on another world that also has plate tectonics where the surfacing of an ancient (Via io9.)

Krampnitz Kaserne was first a Nazi military complex and then a Soviet military complex. It's just outside of Potsdam. Must get there and see it. Pictures of ruined structures. Ruins always a good setting for just about anything. Just look at it! (Via io9 and Environmental Graffiti.)

And so much more. The Hilton Sisters. Predicting the future of civilization. A comet hitting Mars in 2014. Robert Lazar. Popping soap bubbles at 18,000 fps.

These bits came from That's the site I looked at today. I've been following a while now and they provide a lot of good material.

Remember, everything is material.

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