So They’re All Racists Then?

This is one of the key points of contention and misunderstanding that I see from both sides online. The majority of people believe that being called a racist is an extremely negative thing (though there are a small minority who clearly relish it), but these is no clear agreement on what it actually means to be racist. That lies at the heart of a lot of the communication problems when it comes to politics and social issues. On the right there is a feeling that the left just labels everyone as racists and are using it as a blanket insult. On the left there's a feeling that those on the …Read more  »

The How/Why/What of Trump’s Victory

My mind has been chewing away at this since Tuesday night. It was obviously to me relatively early in the night that the predictions were wrong and Trump was going to win. The question is why.   There have been a lot of articles (and many more to come) trying to answer this question and they're all wrong. Even the ones that are right are also wrong.   Because there isn't a single reason. The human brain likes simple answers, but that's not how the world works. Instead it is a confluence of people and events all meshing together. You can point to the FBI investigation, or economic worries or …Read more  »

Silos, Webmentions and the Challenge of Owning Your Own Content

For pretty much as long as there have been social networks I have struggled with how to maintain my own content while simultaneously going where the audience is. Expecting people to come to you is a foolish endeavor. It's not that what I post is inherently valuable, it's that it is mine and I would like to control it. So my default has been to post to my blog and then post versions to assorted networks. But unless you're some sort of full time social media expert, that's far too time consuming to be practical. Yes, in an ideal world each network gets its own hand crafted post, but really... …Read more  »

Kidney Stones — Welcome to a Whole New Level of Pain

So on Thursday evening I was in the ER because of a kidney stone. So far I've been describing the pain as "excruciating" or incredibly painful. But in truth that's a rather inadequate method of conveying what it actually felt like. Let's see if I can do better. A Little Bit of Gas That's how it started.  I was working from home when I started to feel a little uncomfortable, so I took a couple of gas pills and thought no more about it. I'd just come back from a trip where my eating patterns had been disrupted so a little bloating is to be expected. An hour later, after …Read more  »

The Origins Of A Story

In which the  author, because he cannot imagine people finding him droning on about his process anything less than riveting, proceeds to tell you how he conceived the idea for his first Douglas Brodie story and then executed it. It all started with the phrase "Shepherdstown is overrun with werewolves." This fact was reported to me semi-humorously, probably about 10 years ago now, by my father in law as being something that he had been told in deadly earnest. It's a rather unique idea and it stuck with me. I didn't really have any idea what to do with it, I just loved the notion that a small town in the …Read more  »

Death

You're going to die. I'm going to die. We are all going to die. Some of us will die soon, while others will just linger stubbornly. Some will be happy and some will be miserable. In the end they will all be dead though. Despite this absolute, inescapable, certainty, we don't like to think about death. It's uncomfortable for us I think. Depressing certainly and also sad. If you've reached adulthood then you have been impacted by death in one form or another. Your first exposure might have been as simple as the death of a pet, or perhaps one of your older relatives. But as you too age, the …Read more  »

Why I Call It Sci-Fi, or Genre Wars Are Dumb

I'm a major sci-fi fan. Over the years I have watched, read, listened to or otherwise consumed hundreds of hours worth of sci-fi. I also spend an unhealthy amount of time reviewing it and talking about it. Everyone should spend an unhealthy amount of time doing something fun but ultimately unnecessary. What they shouldn't do is spend an unhealthy amount of time arguing over what their hobby is called. And yet that is what fans of scifi seem to do on the internet. The Name Won't Change What it Is There are certainly a lot of different names for sci-fi. Science fiction, fantasy, skiffy, speculative fiction. And then there are the …Read more  »

Embrace Error

A far too common mistake that people make is to avoid or delay doing things because they're worried about getting it wrong or making it less than perfect. I'm releasing a book (you may possibly have heard me mention this a few times). It's currently on pre-release in the Amazon store and it comes out on January 7th.  Why do it that way? It's an experiment. It's probably wrong or at least sub-optimal. But at least it will be published before the week is out. And that's the bit that actually matters Perfect Is The Enemy of Good [amazon template=image&asin=B00RQUSRUM]The golden mean can be applied to a lot of things …Read more  »

Ten SciFi Movies To Watch On Netflix This Weekend

So it's Thanksgiving weekend again here in the US and maybe you've got a little extra time off work to enjoy. But what to do with it all? Well, there's huge quantities of food to consume of course, and no doubt several sportsball games for those who enjoy them. But how about you indulge in a little relaxation with your favorite genre? Lets watch some science fiction or fantasy courtesy of Netflix. So here are ten movies or tv-series you may wish to check out over the weekend. I'm trying to span a range of science fiction, fantasy, blockbusters and more obscure entries. And yes, I cheated a little and …Read more  »

What Is The Master Plan?

When I talk about my writing, I keep referring to a master plan. And there really is one. Admittedly, it's gone through several refinements and will likely go through a few more as things continue. But there is a roadmap that I'm following quite carefully, and slowly. Planning Around Limitations The first thing to understand is that this is a project operating under a few of non-negotiable limitations. Primarily that it is a hobby and not a profession. This is not my attempt to make writing a primary income source. My advice on that would be significantly different. Time is limited. At most I will produce 1,000 - 2,000 words a week …Read more  »

12 Characters Marvel Should Put In Their Movies

Marvel entertainment have announced the third phase of their epic and impressive movie plans.  And if you thought Guardians of the Galaxy was a risky move they've shown they have no such worries with movies based on Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel all in the lineup. So with Marvel clearly happy to mine even C or D list characters at this point I thought it would be fun to put together a list of the ten characters I would really like to see in Marvel's movies. Since I'm a major comic book fan... I ended up with 12. Of course the licensing rights to Marvels characters are a bit …Read more  »

Calling All Fans Of Pulp

The Pulp Stories collection on Medium is intended to be a source for modern fiction that takes inspiration from the pulp era of storytelling. I’m looking to serve both readers and writers with this collection. What Is Pulp? The origin of Pulp fiction is the cheap fiction magazines of the first half of the 20th century. Printed on cheap paper they aimed at populist entertainment with an emphasis on escapist fiction. The action was fast paced. The covers were bright and colorful, almost lurid in their presentation. The heroes were bigger than life and the villains were thoroughly evil. This was a world of adventure where good would eventually win …Read more  »

Ten Classic Sci-Fi Movies To Watch On Netflix

While it's selection of the latest movies is inconsistent at best,  if you're a fan of older science fiction and fantasy movies then Netflix can be quite a treat. What follows is a list of 10 movies that Netflix categorizes as classic sci-fi. Though their use of the word classic seems... liberal. Even if you don't have Netflix these are movies that are worth watching should you get the chance. Though in some cases I wouldn't recommend actually buying them. Barbarella (1968) How do describe Barbarella? Well, first take Jane Fonda in her Hollywood sex-kitten phase. Then add a healthy dose of French sensibilities courtesy of the source material and …Read more  »

Social Media Brings Out The Worst In Us

There's a song in the musical The Music Man called Pick a Little, Talk A Little. This song reminds me of how people behave on social media. While we talk a big game about effecting social change and broadening our understanding what's actually going on is more like this: Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more In the movie adaptation of the musical ( a great, great movie) the song is accompanied by imagery of chickens pecking away at the dirt, contrasted by the women engaging in their lofty conversations. This is social media. Yes, …Read more  »

Positivity Is Not A Bad Thing — Project Hieroglyph’s Push For Positive Science Fiction

In the last couple of decades the tone of science fiction has been overwhelmingly pessimistic. There's a cultural notion of late that it's more realistic to portray everything as going wrong and being bad. Because that's what life is. Except it isn't. When looked at statistically life is over-all better than it was 40 or 50 years ago. We live longer and have a better standard of living. Less people are murdered. Things are actually better. That doesn't mean we're all living in paradise, because we're not. And it also doesn't mean that technology brings nothing but sunshine and happiness with it. On the contrary it always brings upheaval, uncertainty …Read more  »

10 British SciFi Shows You Need To Watch

So you've seen Doctor Who. You know about Torchwood and  perhaps Blakes Seven or Space 1999. These are the cornerstones of British telefantasy. But there's a lot more out there and it's worth watching. Now keep in mind that list list spans from the 70s onwards so the video quality varies a lot. As do the special Effects. These shows are all definitely worth watching however. Also I'm using scifi in its absoltely broadest sense here. We've got SF and fantasy on the list. Take a deep breath. You can handle it. So presenting in no particular order 10 British SciFi Shows You Really Ought To Watch: The Prisoner (1967) This would be …Read more  »

Can You Go Home Again? Returning To Twin Peaks

So the news broke all over internet land that Twin Peaks is returning for a new 9 episode season, this time on Showtime. That's pretty big news for a lot of reasons. Now I have never been a member of the Twin Peaks cult. To be honest I find the show weird for the sake of being weird. But then we are talking about David Lynch here so what exactly would you expect. However, my personal taste aside, Twin Peaks is a show that has managed to sustain a cult following for a quarter of a century based off only 30 episodes (that first season was a mere 8 episodes …Read more  »

Back To The Blog (And Away From Social Networks)

Recently I've dramatically cut down on the amount of posting that I'm doing to social networks. There are a number of reasons for that but the biggest amongst them is a feeling that it's just not serving my needs very well. In truth I've been cutting down on my social networking for some time. G+ was really the last hold out where I was very active. Facebook, Twitter etc. were just getting reposts. But even that has largely come to a halt. Too Much Perhaps the single biggest problem with social networking these days is that there's just too much. Too many networks. Too much content. Too much time devoted …Read more  »

Math — Or Why We Won’t See a Sequel To Dredd

There's a good article over at Bleeding Cool about why this Dredd Day of Action won't actually get a sequel, but maybe you should do it anyway. The author is getting beaten up in the comments over there for shitting on fans or other such nonsense. Which is just the sort of thing that makes me loathe fans really. Just because you want something to happen. Just because it deserves to happen. That doesn't mean it will. And in the case of Dredd the numbers are all against it. Depending on who you believe Dredd made between $35 million and $41 million at the worldwide box office. Off a production …Read more  »

Why Peter Capaldi Was The Perfect Choice For Doctor Who

Let's start with the surface stuff. Age At 55 Capaldi is one of the oldest actors to play the part (up there with Hartnell)  which gives us a great contrast from Matt Smith who was the youngest. And change has always been a good thing for Doctor Who. An older Doctor almost certainly changes the relationships inside the TARDIS and gives us something different. An older Doctor probably gives us a different style of performance. Different pacing. He's still young enough to handle some action scenes though, so it's not like he's going to be hobbling around with a cane. Not a Hearthrob Well that's actually a bit questionable. He …Read more  »

Google+, Signal, Noise and The Limitations of Circles

For the last couple of days I've been struggling with how best to post on Google+. Up to now the majority of my posts have simply been sent out to Public, meaning that anyone can see it. The only exceptions so far have been posts for my family. But I'm a moderately heavy poster to my social networks. Most days I post between 15 and 25 items a day and I post on a variety of different topics, though I do try to keep my re-shares relatively low to avoid too much repetition for people. While my output on its own is not that outrageous, I'm conscious that people following …Read more  »

Things I want To Be Able to Do In Google+

I've been using Google+ for a couple of and I like it a lot,  but there are a number of things it doesn't do (or doesn't make it easy to do) that I really want. I posted a some stuff on Google+ earlier and got a little feedback which I'm now using to write this post. That in itself shows the potential of Google+ I think. Sharing One of the most frustrating things about social networking is how many sites there are. I've been trying to streamline my process to post from one location to many and reply to people on whatever network they chose to use. Ideally I'd be …Read more  »

Stargate: Universe, Success or Failure?

I have been... critical of Stargate: Universe during it's first season. At one point I compared it to Star Trek: Voyager (and in my world that's no compliment). Now that the season is complete, it makes sense to look back and see whether Universe lived up to the early promise of the show. I'm a little surprised to find that I think it actually has lived up to at least some of that promise.  I don't retract any of my criticism, but I think looking at the season as a whole there is a flow that is missing from most shows. Little details in one episode become significant several weeks …Read more  »

Companies Are Not Your Friends

If you hang about on any of the social networking sites, you will of course have noticed that more and more companies are joining you there. The advantages to them are obvious. It's another way to promote their brand and try to convert you into a customer. But now more than ever it's important remember that companies are not your friends. The nature of social networks means that companies now have to interact directly with you. While this is a relatively new thing for the big brands, comic book companies amongst others have done this for years nurturing fans at conventions. Giving people a glimpse behind the curtain makes them …Read more  »