Writer’s Block

We all get it at some time or other. I have it right now. While I have almost reached 50,000 words in my latest novel, despite all my research, my notes, my storyline – my mind has gone completely blank for the moment – doh!

To completely take my mind of my new storyline over the past few days, I fired up my PS3 and played a couple of games; watched a couple of movies I bought a while back; read some more of Derek Haines latest book “Vandalism of Words”; watched some TV; fed the birds in my back garden – anything to reboot my mind. Has it worked? Has it hell as like – double doh!

Even writing this isn’t helping matters, merely exacerbating the problem – triple doh! So what happens now? Nothing, that’s what – absolutely nothing! On a plus note, I watched the Military Tattoo last night on the BBC – a thoroughly enjoyable hour. I love military bands and Scottish Pipe bands especially.

Now all I need is for my muse to come back. If you see it, please turn it right around and send it back to me pretty please…

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Morning Routine

 

A daily morning routine is something the entire population of the world has in common. Mine consists of the following, barely changing, otherwise it wouldn’t be a routine would it –sheesh!

 I slowly emerge from the land of nod as daylight brutally assaults my still closed eyes. No matter which way I turn in bed; no matter how hard I try to pull the duvet over my head, daylight wins.

My feet act on their own, swinging out of bed closely followed by my body. My brain however is still snuggled down in the warmth of the bed. Now in my divided state, I’m instantly grumpy as my body walks to the bathroom bleary eyed. Next comes further walking, this time to the kitchen.

My body goes into auto-pilot mode. Get kettle, take same to sink. Remove lid, place under tap; turn on tap, fill kettle, replace lid, plug in. With eyes that still refuse to open properly find coffee jar, open, find measuring spoon, place large scoop of coffee into coffee plunger.

Go to living room, open curtains. Curse as my body reacts to toe stubbed on table leg – my brain sniggers to itself, still in bed, it didn’t feel a thing. Turn on television for breakfast news programme. My body sits in favourite chair; my brain is still in bed and showing no sign of joining my body yet.

My brain yells to my body from the comfort of bed, “Turn the damned kettle on you plonker!” My body stumbles through door to the kitchen stubbing more toes on the half open door. My brain chuckles to itself from the comfort of bed. My body now hates my brain.

Kettle boils. My body slowly reacts still on auto-pilot. The coffee plunger is filled, my body takes it into the living room and places same beside my favourite chair on small table. My left hand mysteriously operates on its own as it pushes plunger down. The same hand picks up coffee plunger, pours coffee into mug.

Both of my hands now search for tobacco and cigarette papers, roll first fag of the day, sticks same in my body’s mouth, picks up lighter, lights fag, my body takes first deep drag on fag. My left hand picks up coffee mug, my right hand holds fag while my other hand lifts mug to my mouth. My mouth drinks coffee, my right hand replaces fag in my mouth.

Instant transformation – my brain rejoins my body assisted by caffeine and nicotine. Now my day can begin at last…

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Mind Games

 

It’s funny how our mind works don’t you think. Yesterday I was having an online chat with my good friend and editor Gerry about nothing in particular when I recalled an episode in my life I had not thought about for years. While we were putting the world to rights, yet again, my mind suddenly recalled a happy period in my life, back in the eighties and nineties when building boats and sailing them occupied my existence 24-7.

All my adult life the most important things to me have been my interests, my passions that were formed in my childhood. I have an abiding passion for astronomy, archaeology, ancient history, photography, boats, and literature.

 My earliest memory goes back to when I was four years old, standing at my then full height of just over three foot something, reading out loud from a ‘Little Golden Book’ of Bible tales – about Nebuchadnezzar I seem to recall. Ever since that time words and the wonderful books that contain them have filled my life with immense joy.

A life time of reading, photographing things, observing the heavens, building boats, hiking, goat and wild pig hunting with my trusty 30-30 Winchester action carbine in the New Zealand Bush, delighting in the wildness of the New Zealand countryside; spending hours engrossed in amazing exhibits from the ancient world at some of the world’s best museums, while not making me financially rich, has enriched my life beyond measure.

These days, due to severely reduced financial circumstances, the only one of my pleasures that I am still actively involved in is literature, and within that, my new passion – writing.

 Writing has become my savior over the last decade, helping me to repair myself after experiencing three major breakdowns. These days my mind is occupied with plotlines and characters, scenarios and events within the particular story I am writing at any given time.

While I am no longer ‘working’, I am still contributing in my own way to society. Politicians and government employment department staff would disagree with that, by saying that at sixty-two years old, I still have three more years of useful employment left in me.

Useful for whom?  Certainly not for me, I’ve done my bit. I’ve given my all. I’ve spent a lifetime working in the rat race, only to be thrown onto the heap along with the millions of others like me, who foolishly believed that work was everything, work comes first. I swallowed hook line and sinker the whole work ethic baloney. I became a workaholic and look where it got me – nowhere!  

Give me a break! I worked tirelessly from the age of fifteen until fifty-five as a faithful employee for various employers, both in New Zealand and here in the UK. And what was my reward? Three major breakdowns brought on by on the job stress. My mind cannot take anymore, nor can my health.

We are all blessed with a mind. Look after it, nurture it. I abused mine for years, don’t you do the same thing – please…


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Palaeontology

Isle of Wight: One of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils

Artist Richard Bizley’s view of life on the Isle of Wight during the early Cretaceous period. Photo: University of Portsmouth/PA Wire
Fires and floods which raged across the Isle of Wight 130 million years ago made the island the richest source of “pick ’n’ mix” dinosaur remains of that age anywhere in the world, according to a new study.
It revealed that the island’s once-violent weather explains why thousands of tiny dinosaur teeth and bones lie buried alongside the huge bones of their gigantic relatives.
The research was carried out by University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Steve Sweetman and Allan Insole, from the University of Bristol.
It is published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
Dr Sweetman said: “When a fire was rapidly followed by an intense flood, a snapshot of life on the Isle of Wight 130 million years ago was taken and preserved for us to see today, making the Isle of Wight one of the most important dinosaur sites in the world.
“Apart from the sheer diversity of dinosaurs found on the island, we also have the remains of the animals and plants that lived with them.
“During the early Cretaceous when dinosaurs roamed, the climate was much warmer than today.
“This was partly to do with the geographical position of the Isle of Wight at the time – the latitude was roughly where Gibraltar is now – but also reflects the extreme greenhouse conditions of that era.”
The academics said vegetation became parched during summer months where temperatures rose – increasing the likelihood of lightning strikes causing fires.
Dr Sweetman said: “Occasionally very heavy rain would follow electrical storms and wild fires, causing flash floods.
“These swept up all loose objects in their path, swallowed complete dinosaur skeletons and eroded floodplain sediments. The more debris and sediment the water collected, the thicker and thicker it became until eventually it was like mixed concrete.”
This chaotic mixture, in which most of the skeletons became jumbled up, was then deposited in hollows to form what are now known as the island’s plant debris beds.
The rotting plants in these beds removed oxygen, providing ideal conditions for the preservation of bones.
“On the Isle of Wight you get a complete muddle of the smallest fossils blended with the biggest, nothing quite like it has been seen anywhere else in the world,” said Dr Sweetman.
“The plant debris beds and the mixture of fossils they contain are unique to the island.”

Warped Imaginations: Star Wars Fans Want a NASA Hyperdrive

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Analysis by Ian O’Neill Mon Aug 23, 2010 08:21 PM ET 8 Comments | Leave a Comment
Warpship1 The ‘Warpship’ as envisioned by advanced propulsion expert Richard Obousy. Is this the faster-than-light spaceship Star Wars fans are looking for? Credit: Richard Obousy Consulting and Alex Szames Antigravite.
The hyperdrive, a firm sci-fi favorite mode of transportation for zipping around the galaxy, is a propulsion technology that NASA should be researching, according to hardcore sci-fi fans who attended the Star Wars Celebration V convention in Florida last week.
To put it bluntly, current space travel technologies can appear boring. When we’re used to seeing spaceships on TV carrying our space exploring heroes from one star system to another (or even one galaxy to another), the fact that 21st Century humans can’t even leave low-Earth orbit seems terribly pedestrian.

In fact, it is this reasoning that caused astronaut legend Buzz Aldin to come forward in 2008, accusing science fiction dreams of killing enthusiasm for spaceflight science reality.
Actually, having lofty expectations for NASA is no bad thing.
SLIDE SHOW: Faster-than-light travel isn’t the only sci-fi possibility. Browse the Top 5 Sci-Fi Time Travel Methods.

Serious Limitations
“I believe ‘Star Wars’ and NASA have a lot in common,” said Joseph Tellado, a logistics manager for the International Space Station, in response to the Star Wars fans. “We’re looking to the future. NASA is like the first stepping stone to ultimately get to that ‘Star Wars’ level.”
But the reality of just visiting one of our nearest planetary neighbors makes for painful reading. Even if we were to mount an interplanetary trip to Mars, using current technology to do so could take months, a restriction that puts a serious limit on our space exploration hopes.
So, to quote another sci-fi favorite, shouldn’t we be boldly going where no man has gone before in an effort to mitigate our star trekking woes? Or are these Star Wars fans asking a bit much of NASA?
“I don’t think it’s too much of Star Wars fans to ask NASA to research exotic propulsion,” advanced propulsion expert Richard Obousy told Discovery News. “However, I do think it’s far too high an expectation that NASA will deliver any kind of faster-than-light ‘hyperdrive’ in the foreseeable future.”
Obousy recently coauthored a paper when he was working at Baylor University, Texas, detailing how a warp drive could be used to propel a spacecraft (or “Warpship”) faster than the speed of light without breaking the laws of physics.
“There are currently two schemes that, within the known laws of physics, allow for superluminal (faster-than-light) propulsion,” he said. “These are 1) the wormhole and 2) the warp drive. Both involve the manipulation of the fabric of the spacetime continuum, and both require prodigious amounts of energy and an exotic form of energy called ‘negative energy.'”
What’s more, NASA has already spent a lot of time investigating the feasibility of these methods of FTL (faster-than-light) travel.
ANALYSIS: Warp Drives: Making the ‘Impossible’ Possible

Extreme Speculation

Warp-speed-7 What will it look like when traveling at superluminal speeds? (NASA)

As pointed out by Obousy, it was the U.S. space agency that researched 8 different approaches to FTL travel — producing 16 peer-reviewed papers — during a program called “Breakthrough Propulsion Physics” (BPP) from 1996 to 2002. It was this study that identified wormholes (a.k.a. “Einstein-Rosen bridges”) and warp drives as two of the most “feasible” modes of superluminal travel.
Although exciting, there is a huge caveat that comes with any research that explores the limits of our understanding of physics.
“Warp drives are extremely speculative at this stage, and it would be irresponsible of me to suggest that a warp drive could ever be built,” Obousy added.
“What does seem true, however, is that warp drives are allowed to exist within the known laws of physics, and can therefore be explored and investigated in a rigorous and scientific manner.”
SLIDE SHOW: Introducing the Warpship
The warp drive is a familiar technology in the Star Trek universe, but we’re talking about NASA building a hyperdrive — are they the same thing? After all, I don’t recall the Millennium Falcon having a warp driveit has a Isu-Sim SSP05 hyperdrive generator installed (in case you were wondering).
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume the Star Wars hyperdrive is similar to Obousy’s warp drive (they do the same thing, i.e., go faster than the speed of light).
“The Star Wars movies go into very little technical detail regarding the functionality of their hyperdrives; however, it’s clear that the hyperdrive operates at FTL speeds, since the spacecraft are able to jump from one star system to another in a very short amount of time,” said Obousy.
“Since the travel time is fast, but not instantaneous (as it would be in the case of a wormhole), I think that it’s safe to hypothesize that the hyperdrive is, in fact, a warp drive — which involves a local manipulation of spacetime to create the superluminal propulsion.”
INTERVIEW: Dark Energy and Surfing Spacetime: Discovery News talks warp drives and crazy physics with Richard Obousy.

A Cottage Industry

WarpShip2 The Warpship concept (Richard Obousy Consulting and Alex Szames Antigravite)

As previously discussed on Discovery News, Obousy’s Warpship assumes the Universe is composed of many dimensions and some of these dimensions can be manipulated using “dark energy” — an energy that is theorized to pervade all space, explaining the observed accelerated expansion of the Cosmos.
Unfortunately, there is little continued research into this fascinating area of work, so the Star Wars fans call for further investigation isn’t that misplaced after all.
“Both warp drive and wormhole research are “cottage industries” — that is, for the most part, physicists have to study these in their spare time, outside of their regular academic and research duties,” Obousy concludes. “Currently, there are no funded projects in either industry or academia that support this research.”
“However, as was demonstrated by the BPP, one needs only an incredibly modest budget to create a fruitful and inspiring research program.”
Fascinated by the science behind the warp drive, dark energy and manipulating space-time? Watch “Interstellar Journey,” a series of ten short (non-technical) videos, hosted by Richard Obousy.

Why is Science fiction falling by the wayside in the literary world?

I recently read Paul Goat Allen’s latest article concerning the demise of science fiction in literature on the “Explorations” web page, part of Barnes & Noble. Paul argued that fantasy had taken over in the reading world. The following is my comment to his article: 

“Science fiction like all other genre’s falls in and out of fashion. What was popular in the 1950’s and 60’s gets rediscovered and reinvented by later generations. Book genre’s fall in and out of fashion like everything else.

Nothing is new. Everything gets rediscovered over time.

It is completely understandable that the current generation read fantasy, using the genre as a literary head in the sand approach to the problems of the day.

But, subjects like global warming, population explosion, modern day warfare, famine and exploitation in the third world are all subjects for future science fiction novels, not fantasy, which to my mind is why the current reading fashion decrees that fantasy is, for the moment, king.

Is science fiction dead? No, merely taking a snooze, waiting for fashion and fads to change once more, putting science fiction back where it belongs at the forefront of literary exploration Paul.”

Thinking about the subject some more, after I wrote the above, I have to say I think the real reason for the demise of  science fiction is down to the ‘deep and meaningful’ approach taken by television and Hollywood when faced with a script. Take the Star Trek phenomena for example. In the first series, apart from chronically bad acting especially by the two lead actors, the story-lines where pure scifi. Lots of encounters with new planets, new species – all good stuff. But by the time the great Shakespearian actor Patrick Stewart assumed control of the Enterprise, the bridge crew counted among its member a ‘counsellor’ – give me strength! Instead of action we got boring ‘deep and meaningful’ discussions by the angst ridden crew members.

 Then the rot set in even further when Star Trek Voyager appeared, or as I like to call it PMT in Space, with a female captain who spent most of her time mothering her delinquent crew.

There has only ever been one scifi series on television that truly shone and that was Babylon Five. There have been a few excellent scifi movies over the years like Stargate, which unfortunately was spoiled when the original story was turned into a television series by employing McGiver in the lead role. Half the time I fully expected him to get them out of a tricky situation using nothing but his Swiss-Army knife and a piece of string.

If anyone is truly to blame for the slow death of pure science fiction in the world of literature, look no further than the whimpish screen writers for both television and the silver screen, who foolishly believe that simpering dialogue means more than action.

Shame on you…