Author: Troy Williams

Troy Williams is a technology and science fiction nerd. The Fundamentals, was his first work of science fiction and there are many more stories in The Fundamental’s Universe. At his day job, he is a web and application developer experienced at coding and managing projects as small as an individual’s website to large enterprise integrations.

The Prophet Aldus Huxley

Aldus Huxley Reading

Brave New World captivated me as a child. I spent days reading and reading Chapter 3 when I revisited the book as an adult. Huxley’s world building in that chapter is a masterpiece of concise writing through the voices of his characters.

YouTube’s propagandist algorithm has pushed this video in front of me several times since I researched Aldus Huxley and Brave New World for my original review. I broke down this morning and watched it. Here are some interesting points.

Was Aldus Huxley Haunted by Visions or a Thoughtful Prophet?

“A man haunted by a vision of Hell on Earth!” And that is just the introduction to this Mike Wallace Interview conducted in 1958. Important because this is the tail-end of the McCarthy era of American politics. The Fund for the Republic sponsored the Mike Wallace Interview program. His Fordship, through the Ford Foundation, created the Fund for the Republic as a political arm of the Ford Foundation. It lasted all of two years, from 1958 to 1959.

Mike Wallace is sucking on the butt of a cigarette throughout the interview. He is incapable of putting it down.

The interview is a promotion of Huxley’s essays, Enemies of Freedom. Wallace wants these enemies to be people. Huxley redirects him to forces threatening the freedom of individuals. He discounts individuals as a threat to liberty, and throughout the interview talks of forces shaping public and individual opinion as a greater threat.

The first threat mentioned is overpopulation. The eight billion humans on Earth today would horrify Huxley. In defense of his argument, exploding population, and its desire to move out of poverty, is the driving force behind climate change. A world where fresh water is scarce could see the type of control Huxley feared.

Wallace is quick to turn attention to the Communist Party and the Catholic Church. The church for its resistance to birth control, and the Communist party because it’s well organized. John F. Kennedy would become America’s first Catholic President in 1961. Joe Biden is the second. China’s Communist Party is something to be feared.

Next on the list is hierarchical organizations controlled by deep bureaucracy. Huxley states the growth of technology will benefit these organizations. I have long argued corporations are a greater threat to freedom than any government or political ideology. Huxley may have shaped my views through his fiction.

Anyone working for a large national or international corporation can attest to the constant monitoring and suspicion with which those organizations operate. Amazon tracks its employees and its contractors every move, as if a lost minute of productivity will bring the megalith to ruin.

Aldus Huxley on Propaganda

Propaganda is the bulk of the discussion. Aldus is rolling in his grave at the efficiency with which Facebook and YouTube algorithms have produced flat earthers, Q-Anon conspiracy theorist, and Trump insurrectionist. Notice the complaint against television as a distraction instead of promoting a message. Now think how YouTube and Facebook algorithms direct a steady diet of content for you to consume.

As the interview nears its end, Mike Wallace mentions soma as a drug to pacify the populace. The last twenty-years have seen many American states hollowed out by an opioid epidemic that made the Purdue Pharma corporation billions. Have you ever wondered about all those laws legalizing marijuana? Where is that money going? In twenty years, how will we view this new liberal drug policy?

Huxley’s primary point about propaganda is that the dictatorship of the future will look different from those of the past. He argues the new dictatorships will not use terror and violence to preserve power. Instead, they will seek the consent of the ruled through drugs and propaganda. They will use technology to appeal to the subconscious and deeper emotions of the individual to make the slave enjoy slavery.

“Could this Brave New World come to America?” Mike Wallace asks. Yes, the prophet says. Through technology and drugs, this world will consume our shores. He fears the rise of the personality candidate, over the competent candidate. He was especially concerned about Madison Avenue shaping of candidates like Nixon and Kennedy.

He argues the fewer the agencies of propaganda, the more threat they are, especially to children. He refers to American children as TV fodder. Comparing the reference to European children as cannon fodder because of the many wars fought on European soil.

According to Huxley, propaganda becomes brain washing when propaganda gets a hold of a person’s psychology and breaks them down to put a new idea into their psychology. These individuals become fanatics.

“The passion for power is the most moving passion in man,” Aldus says. “It is important to not to let one man or group have too much power for too long a time.” People need to be on their guard for the verbal booby traps to which they are always being led.

Socialism Anyone?

After you watch this video, I want you to consider how much of American production is in the hands of a few corporations. As a child, my food came from local farmers. Now it is massed produced by a few mega-corps. You had to visit multiple retailers for your back-to-school shopping. Now you can get everything delivered by Amazon. Huxley says that if you can break up the bigger unit to small units, you can protect freedom.

“Is freedom necessary?” Wallace asks?

“Yes. Freedom is necessary for a productive society,” Aldus says. The life of man is impossible without individual freedom, which breeds initiative and creativity. You can recognize this fact in societies and organizations that are not free. Those at the top, running the organization have more freedom than those at the bottom, sustaining the organization. Those at the top need their freedom to continue to come up with new and creative ways to keep those at the bottom in bondage. The most chilling statement is the final one in this essay:

A situation where the top is free and the bottom is not, can last longer than one where everyone is not free.

Aldus Huxley

Heart Breath Mind, Fail

Heart Breath Mind Cover

The promise is simple enough. A data driven approach to the benefits of meditation. The execution is a lot more complicated than the promise and will cost you hundreds of dollars in equipment. Equipment you will use a few minutes a day to calculate a nebulous score. The introduction to Lea Lagos’s Heart Breath Mind Train your Heart to Conquer Stress and Achieve Success makes a big promise:

The breathing exercises and peak performance strategies described in Heart Breath Mind will take you on a journey from merely surviving stress to thriving despite it. A critical part of our work together will be developing your somatic awareness—a heightened consciousness of how your body is feeling—so that you will recognize when you are stressed and can take action to shift yourself out of a state of stress and into what is called parasympathetic dominance.

At the core of Heart Breath Mind is a scientific process to systematically gain control over your heart, rewiring your stress response and unlocking your highest potential for performance and positive health.

Heart Breath Mind: Train Your Heart to Conquer Stress and Achieve Success

I discovered Lea Lagos’s Heart Breath Mind from the Star Talk Radio podcast. I used to listen to Star Talk Radio weekly, but when they maximized ad-revenue by pushing recycled content multiple times a week, I stopped listening. I dipped back in during the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020. I was happy to hear fresh content. But in my first new episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson downplayed the serious of SARS-Covi-2 and actually encouraged New Yorkers to go out and enjoy themselves. I was listening to This Week in Virology for a month at this point and was sorely discouraged by Neil and Chuck’s sarcastic approach to the pandemic. I had little else to do, so I continued to dip into the podcast to see if Neil corrected himself, or if he had become a mask conspiracy nut job. Eventually he said that he was “following the science,” and downplayed the earlier episode.

Continue reading

Physics is off the rails.

Physics Class

I spend more time walking circles in the Standing Palms postures than in other martial art practice. I strive for that magical sixty-four circles in both directions for each of the ten palms that make up my daily practice. I rarely get there in a single session. On one especially muggy day I sat sweating and panting on the floor with my arms tingling from the fixed postures and read this article: Why some scientists say physics has gone off the rails (nbcnews.com)

The article makes the argument that physics is so in love with the math of their theories; they have not made testable predictions in half a century. I was just thinking the same thing.

Physics of the 20th Century

In defense of physicists, they have been busy begging for money to test the predictions made in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The ones made by Einstein, Planck, Schrodinger, and Heisenberg. If science got the money squandered on athletic departments, those proofs would have come sooner, and humanity would be on our way to another star. Sadly, we are stuck with austerity politics, sexually deviant athletic departments making millions a year, and flat earthers making headlines while scientist are targets for conspiracy theories.

I agree with the article but not for the reasons given in the article. In The Fundamentals Michael Planck says:

“You can clearly see the difference in our approach to science from before the Arabian Impact and after. Before, there were many fanciful ideas about physics and religion that held us back. But after a small rock from space wiped out a billion people, things changed. Concrete resolve replaced fanciful ideas.”

The Fundamentals by Troy Williams

This was my first fictional dig at the popular theories of the day: creationism, alternate dimensions, and multiple universes.

Creationist Physics

Most physicists would not call themselves a creationist. To which I say bullshit. The big bang theory is creationism. It is a convenience that allows the physicists to sit quietly when a creationist defends their faith in god by pointing to the big bang as the work of god. It is a silent acknowledgement that the money you need to support your department is in the hands of a man who did not read your grant application because he coached his church’s softball team on Sunday.

The big bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model. It explains a lot of things that we can measure in the Universe. The abundance of light elements like hydrogen and helium, the cosmic microwave background, and Hubble’s law (the doppler shift) of galaxies moving away from us.

The big bang theory is not the first time a cosmological model supported the observable through its equations. Platonic solids were the basis for prevailing cosmological models before the big bang theory. As the article notes, Kepler’s elegant equations supported the platonic solids model, but it was wrong.

Platonic Solids supported by the physics of Kepler's equations.
The Physics of Platonic Solids

I spent some time studying cosmologies before I wrote Earth Dragon Canon. The cosmology section of that book was much longer in the first draft. I cut it to focus on the cosmologies important to the study of Baguazhang. As the product of a school system with a creationist lean to science education, the models I discovered surprised me. The Ptolemaic model, which put Earth at the center of the Universe, and the Copernican, which put the Sun at the center of the Universe, were the most familiar. But there were other models just as wrong and right as those two.

For Ptolemy, the Earth was the center of the Universe. He had no tools to see beyond the sky that rotated around him. For Copernicus, the Sun was the thing holding planets in orbit, but all those other points of light hung in the Aether, fixed to their positions. Kepler married these models to mathematics and physics.

The Physics of an Eternal Universe of Change

What happens to cosmologies when the observable is expanded? They change. New cosmologies explain new observations. I understand the big bang theory, I know there is a mountain of observable data to support it, but I think it is wrong. I think the Universe is eternal. It has always been here. It did not form from something dense and hot or materialize out of nothing. A black hole in another Universe did not create our Universe, and black holes in our Universe do not create alternate universes.

There is the Universe, and that is all. It is, in its own way, a Ptolemaic solution. I stand on a small rock and with the observations of others see a dark expanse filled with trillions of galaxies and trillions of trillions of suns and another trillion to the power of trillion worlds. I see all that and cannot accept that it came from nothing.

I think those observable conclusions to the big bang theory are just as wrong as Ptolemy and Copernicus. I think they are a byproduct of the Universe constantly renewing itself, breaking heavy elements into light ones, and then forming the heavy elements again. An elemental cycle of creation and destruction, not a universal one.

The problem with our understanding is that we cannot see big and far enough to understand this cycle on the cosmic scale. When we can see on that scale, a new cosmology will emerge.

The big bang’s mathematical models require a four or more dimensions. Carl Sagan made the explanation of these extra dimensions popular in the original Cosmos television series. There is a two-dimensional world, flatland, which is visited by a three-dimensional creature. But the two-dimensional beings cannot see the three-dimensional creature, they can only experience a slice of the creature, and—over time— that slice changes so the observations of the creature passing through their world changes.

I think this description fits our changing cosmological viewpoints better than it explains the passage of time or gravity.

Our accumulated knowledge, our accumulated observations, allow us to draw ever more accurate explanations of the Universe. In our brief history, we have not witnessed enough of the Universe to explain it with any certainty.

Physicists are eager to create an elegant equation explaining everything in the Universe. To do this, they have invented alternate planes and alternate universes. Ideas born in our creationist past. Alternate planes are just like Asgard, Heaven, Brahma, or the Pure Lands. Other universes, where the laws of physics do not act like they do here, are the same. These extra dimensions and universes dumped into mathematical formula does not differ from Pluto blaming gods for Troy’s destruction. Yank out the extra dimensions, eliminate the multiple universes, and physics has nothing, not even the beginnings of an equation.

We struggle to explain that which we cannot observe. It is an old Buddhist notion. Our need to influence, or even understand, the world is the beginning of sorrow. We race to create new things, new ideas, new discoveries, without accepting the Universe as it is. Theory consumes us while we ignore the observation. One finger pointing at the Moon.

Keep Calm and Spend Money

Have you done it? Are you so addicted to your smartphone that you downloaded an application to help you meditate? I have, and I didn’t know there was real money in this nonsense until I did. Turns out, Silicon Valley tech investors have found a way to monetize you sitting on your ass and breathing, and Calm is the Mecca of cash. Monetizing mindfulness is not new. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Deepak Chopra, and Wayne Dyer have made millions out of the practice. But where the new age gurus of my youth had to produce hundreds of books, spend hundreds of hours recording audio programs, and countless hours in seminars and traveling the world, Silicon Valley did it with an application.

My Introduction to Calm

My introduction to this unashamed grab for your hard-earned cash came in the form of Dr. Leah Lagos’s appearance on the Star Talk Radio podcast. Dr. Lagos’s description of heart rate variability (HRV) intrigued me enough to give her program a try. I bought the book and grabbed the recommended application for my Android device. Two days later I was getting emails from the application developer to buy additional features and equipment from their website. I unsubscribed and deleted the application. The $30 pulse oximeter I had bought at the start of pandemic was a better aid for pacing my breathing than for the application.

The application had piqued my interest, however, and I started looking for other breath pacing applications. I remembered when I started practicing sitting meditation how difficult it was to keep my mind on the breath. As soon as I felt the breath, I would worry over upcoming bills, or how I could find more time to practice Tai Chi. If you think a breath pacing application will eliminate your mind effort, you are wrong. While they keep you breathing at a steady pace, they do nothing for your active mind.

Calm the Hundred-Million Dollar Mindfulness Scam

Calm, the billion-dollar application that inspired this post, claims to solve that problem with guided meditations. Before the smartphone application, everyone into mindfulness bought a guided meditation tape or DVD. We used most of them once or thrice, then forgot them. Having someone whisper affirmations at you were as helpful as having someone interrupt you every two minutes. Calm is the ultimate collection of those guided meditations, and they want you to shell out $15 a month to have a movie or music superstar interrupt your mindfulness session.

I bought a Fitbit for HRV exploration. I got the cheapest one on sale since it came with a year of Fitbit Premium. Premium includes mindfulness sessions guided by Deepak Chopra and other gurus from my youth. When my free trial expires, Fitbit intends to charge me $10 a month for these two- and ten-minute sessions They will reward me digital badges and congratulatory emails. Too cheap and automated to send me a sticker with a personal note.

As I will relate in my post on Dr Lagos’s Heart, Breath, Mind, Buddhist mantras have a few hundred years’ experience over the smartphone application for taming the mind, but a FitBit can be a powerful confirmation to your practice. I have removed the breath pacers from my phone. Counting in my head still works, and it doesn’t harvest my email address or ask me to purchase new equipment to improve my practice.

Spider Beast

The Ettercap are drones cloned by the engaro to become spider like beasts

Arita swallowed. She sucked in arotea until her stomach ached. She needed the strength. When she surfaced, her fluids sank.

The arotea chamber was not full. A lifetime of eating should have filled it with the life source of the orhatea. She treaded the amber colored liquid to stay afloat. She was as comfortable in it as she was in space.

From this chamber, she could run to the space dock, steal a ship, and escape to Tojisoon. The first step to a successful escape was reconnaissance. She needed to know more of Karey’s plans, so she entered the mental landscape. No point in hiding. Karey knew where she was.

Continue reading

Lockdown and The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Featured Posture

“White trash wet dream,” I said to a friend after I started the first season of The Walking Dead. He didn’t get it. Most don’t because themes of post-apocalyptic science fiction are deeper than you assume. Science fiction, though strictly made up, has true things to say about the world. The situation of The Walking Dead is fictional, but it had plenty to say about 2020 America.

A white trash wet dream is a post-apocalyptic world where self-reliance and a trunk full of firearms means survival. A white trash wet dream means no government forcing you to buy a hunting license or drive on the right side of the road. A white trash wet dream has no social order asking you to respect your neighbor’s viewpoint, pay for merchandise, judge your crimes, or respect your vote. In a white trash wet dream, might make right, and right means not being dead.

White trash was a slur for poor white people. Now it is a term for people living on the fringes of social order. For those who are unpredictable, and lack respect for political, legal, and moral authority. Some self-identify as white trash to celebrate the stereotyping and social marginalization of lower-class whiteness.

Continue reading

Mellowed links and The Vote

Cleaning the Capitol Building after the January 6, 2021 Insurrection

With the impeachment of Donald J. Trump behind us, it is time for reflection on the events of the last month. On any day, I collect more links than I can read in a week. Most of us are like this. Bombarded with information, it’s hard to choose the quality from the click-bait. If I wait a few days, the stuff I thought important in the moment, was just chaff in the wind. That is why I let my reading list mellow. When I return to it, I find most of it is junk.

I am guilty of using multiple systems to keep my links. One Note from Microsoft is an old favorite. It has a browser extension that lets you keep a bookmarked link to the article, or just the text of the article for later reading. I prefer the text only option because I find it difficult to read comfortably with a dozen banner and interstitial ads interrupting my thoughts. We abandon most content on the internet because of those interruptions.

I use an ad blocker to stop the distractions but feel guilty for denying hard working creatives the meager income all that noise provides. Many years ago, Firefox added a reading mode feature that dispensed with the noise and let you return to the ad laden page when you finished reading. I used it religiously.

Continue reading

Endurance and The Coronavirus

This story, especially in 2020, is important. First, just as an adventure story, like in my science fiction, someone is going to pay the price for the adventure. There is usually a character who will sacrifice their life for the better good. Sometimes, a character will charge into battle to give everyone else a chance to escape.

But in this story, that didn’t happen. With the crew of the Endurance, no one gave their life. No one sacrificed themselves. They all survived.

Now think of 2020. Think of COVID-19, and of the coronavirus, and how we, especially as Americans, have reacted to this pandemic. We didn’t jump into it all together and proclaim that everyone is going to survive. No, that didn’t happen. We didn’t even say, “hey one of you go out there and die for the rest of us.”

Continue reading

Smoking and January 6, 2021

Leo Tolstoy wrote the definitive judgment on Christianity in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You. You should read it. If you can remain conscious, and mindfully absorb the arguments Tolstoy makes about non-violence, it will forever change your view of humanity. Mahatma Gandhi read it and freed India from the British empire. Martin Luther King, Jr. used it as a mirror to show how hateful and violent white Christian America really is.

America was born with the twin infections of greed and slavery, but its founders embraced intellectualism and science. The new infection of anti-intellectualism—a fundamentalist refusal to acknowledge the world as something other than a fairytale—was the spirit of January 6, 2021.

Continue reading

The Daisen

Interior of the tansoon generational ship Daisen

The green linen sheet flew off Nic of Tar. He shot off his bed, naked, but ready for a fight. A thought reconfigured his reflexes for optimal reaction times, another thought improved his field of vision to three-hundred degrees. No one was in the room.

He looked out the open window to check branches below and above his bedroom. His stomach turned from vertigo created by the fisheye effect of his augmentation. He canceled the enhancement and marveled at how his perception of the world collapsed around him. Someone slapped him on the shoulder.

With unnatural speed, he spun with his left palm out and open while he tightened his right into an arrow-hand. His left hand caught an arm, but when he struck for his attacker’s throat, he hit what felt like an armpit.

“Ow!”

A window in his vision indicated that a voice analysis had begun.

The attacker tried to pull free of Nic’s grip. He followed the force with a simple toe-in step that should put his back to the attacker. He tested the theory by thrusting up with his right palm. He struck the attacker on the elbow. He toed-out and in, turning to throw his attacker over his shoulder.

Continue reading

Inheritance

The chill Nic felt was not from the cold wind drying his soaked clothes. His personal augmentations were regulating his body temperature against that chill. He was upset at himself for using the implant in Wad’s brain to restrain his friend. They had not spoken of it on the walk back to the camping wagon, but the sudden glow of the wagon’s lights made Nic feel exposed to his betrayal. He wanted to apologize again. Wad had more important thoughts.

“I should have brought some fishes,” he said as they stepped into the warmth of the wagon’s exterior lights.

“We have food Wad,” Nic said. He had lost his appetite for fish.

Continue reading

A New Glossary

Sometimes the tool comes to you. WordPress is a robust platform, but it has a few quirks that get under the skin of experienced coders. Everything is a post is a fine model, but after seventeen years you should be able to display those posts in dynamic ways. Sure, there are plugins, but WordPress is the platform, and a platform that doesn’t you give the tools for the most basic element of its existence is weak.

With a little PHP code, the REST hooks, and some JavaScript I could extend a theme and build a fancy sort for my posts. That I have to do this is just maddening, and I don’t want to do that much work on my site when I could be writing instead.

Continue reading

Mada

Towers in The Raka city of Mada

Raksha protected his people at the Bay of Mada. Over millennia the valley had become a city, and the bay a port for sailing ships. In an earlier time, when ice covered the plains of Umaavadan, the rakshoon took refuge at Mada. The mountains surrounding the valley trapped warm moist air rising from NamaUd and made the Kishkha a time to forget old rivalries, study old texts, and share stories of Raksha’s cleverness. Wartooth had been here before, at the Kishkha of Betrayal.

This fortress, this very room, was Baga’s home. Baga was the first raka to gather quarreling families and clans under a common banner. That fight was against the tianshen and their perverse occupation of Raksha. In that great age of the first empire Baga carved his home in the side of the Mada Mountains and, on a morning like this, he stood in this window and commanded his troops in the defense of his home world.

Continue reading

Putting an End to Hibernation in Sci-Fi

A science fiction hiberation pod

Galaxy crossing science fiction space operas are pure fantasy. Sure, we call them science fiction because they have spaceships and plasma rifles, but there is little science in even the most hard sci-fi stories. The term “hard science fiction” is rather new. When Arthur C. Clarke was writing his novels and fashioning one of the most influential movies of all time, science fiction was still just science fiction. In fact, Sir Arthur’s definition of fantasy and science fiction had nothing to do with dragons or spaceships, but human desires and fears.

Science fiction is something that COULD happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that COULDN’T happen – though often you only wish that it could.

Arthur C. Clarke

Hibernation in Sci-Fi is BORING!

When I see a new book or book series promoted as hard science fiction, my gut reaction is that it must be boring. My gut is usually right. Endless exposition on the construction of generational ships, or faster-than-light travel speculation is text ignoring the characters I came to engage. I complained about this dull speculative writing in my review of the Arthur C. Clarke’s work. His masterpieces are his short stories, where limited space forced him to focus on the story’s beat and character development. Anything longer, (Rendezvous with Rama, anyone?) and things became sleepy.

The problem with science fiction is that you can’t have a planet hopping adventure unless you can transport your mortal characters across immortal distances. As a writer of “hard science fiction,” you have three choices: hibernation, warp drive, or a generational ship.

The third option, a generational ship, is the most likely option for human beings to travel the stars. But who wants to read about a hundred years of travel before you get to the center of the story’s action.

For a good story, the second option is the best and does not have to be a warp-drive. Worm holes, space folds, hyperspace, and gap drives are all good options. Hard science fiction ruins it, however, by exploring the time paradox of your hero crossing the galaxy in a few hours, while a loved one and human civilization perishes from old age.

The last is the compromise option. Put your characters in to a deep cryogenic sleep, a generational-type ship crosses the expanse, and your characters wake up to carry-on. Seems a safe bet, but I argue it is the worst option. In my review of Children of Time, I shared how it can go wrong.

Cryogenic Hibernation is Impossible

This article from universal-sci.com discusses human hibernation and how a deep torpor might be useful for crossing the distance from Earth to Mars. It does not draw any conclusions, but one fact is obvious. No matter how deep you sleep, you age. Which means hibernation is the worst option for a hard science fiction story. Not only did you put your heroes to sleep (boring), they died on the trip to save the world.

Stop with the hibernation chambers already. Sleepy people don’t read books.

There is some good hard science fiction available. All of it ignores the galaxy for our local planetary system. Ben Bova’s twenty-five book The Grand Tour is worth your time, and a study in how to do it. If you can get past the fact that the key to Mark Watney’s rescue, Mars’s thin atmosphere, makes the storm that stranded him impossible, The Martian is excellent.

Fishing Bird

Nic of Tar inhaled the rich, earthy aromas of the mountain’s páramo. The breeze had changed direction, earlier it carried the crisp smell of saltwater. Augmentations in his nasal cavity analyzed the air sample for pollen counts and trace chemicals. A window with the results opened at the corner of his vision. The dramatic fall in pollen from yesterday indicated the freeze was early today.

This planet, Tojisoon, had a single ice-covered continent and a vast ocean. Temperate zones at the edge of the continent supported an abundant and hardy array of life. The tianshen, however, lived on an island near the equator. Tar Mountain, the dormant volcano that formed the island, reached high into the atmosphere, and drove the climate for the island. As the tianshen’s primary source for crops and fresh water, maintaining its climate for maximum yield was essential.

Continue reading

The Single Best What is a Virus Video

two covid vials on pink surface

After finishing my first episode of TWiV, I realized that I needed a refresher course on viruses. I want to know the basics, without taking biology again.

YouTube is both a cesspool, a library, and my first stop when researching a subject. I have learned to look for older videos YouTube Creators have not repurposed into sponsor driven streams filled with fluff, filler, and sponsors. This video is direct, easy to understand and has helpful animations.

Continue reading

Theme in a Brave New World of Coronavirus

Brave New World Cover

I try not to think about theme when I am writing. Falling in that pit is the quickest way to lose a story. In a literature class you were told that theme is what the author is trying to convey, a central idea or meaning to the story. In rare exceptions, that might be true. In truth, authors have no idea what themes will manifest when they start a work. A few will pretend they had a grand design to start, but I never believed it.

I view my writing as an argument I am having with myself. I am not writing to satisfy a theme, but to find one. When I am satisfied with the argument, I know I have finished, and I start editing and re-writing to strengthen the salient points.

The coronavirus pandemic makes writing without a theme difficult. Every word you write screams “you have missed the point. What about…” And that list is long, but familiar. The use of technology to control society, consumerism, the dangers of big government, individualism, and daily challenges our worldview are in every headline.

Continue reading

Bedtime stories in the age of COVID: An Introduction to TWIV

This Week in Virology. The podcast about viruses. The kind that make you sick. A refrain I hear more than once a week since I started listening to this excellent podcast all about the coronavirus. No. That’s not right. This podcast is all about viruses; the kind that make you sick.

In late March, I realized my regular sources were not enough to keep me informed about the growing pandemic. At that time, the World Health Organization had not declared a pandemic, but I was calling coronavirus endemic (community transmissions—transmissions that could not be traced to a source of the virus—were common). The legal definitions did not matter to me, I knew we were stuck with coronavirus and the resulting infection: COVID-19, until we get a vaccine. I needed a better source of information.

Continue reading

A Turn of Harvest

A close image of Arotea the food of The Fundamentals

Arita’s fluids quickened as she approached the Amah’s chamber. Orhatea were good at hiding, Tomo were masters of it. The beat her temperature increased, her obsidian shell compensated, covering her temperature spike, masking her presence to the motion sensors hidden in the floor and ceiling.

A narrowing of light along the walls indicated recording devices. Most would not have noticed it, but Arita had trained for infiltration and assassination; spotting and avoiding recording devices was her nature. Avoiding these would get her killed.

Continue reading

Dreams and the White Gold Wielder

The White Gold Wielder Cover

As children all we have dreams. As infants we lack income, property, and choice and we are fragile and slow to grow compared to the rest of the natural world. As soon as we achieve enough independence to think and wander on our own, society dictates we get an education, attend church or temple, or at least recognize a higher power. Unable to chart our own course, dreams are all that remain.

When I was a child, daydreaming was a sin. A protestant farming community expects the children to contribute. I suppose it is better than the alternative, running and hiding from predators. Never mind that the daydreamers created the civilization and society that now shunned them.

I was a rebel. I daydreamed at every opportunity. A simple garden stake became a great overland vehicle that brought technology and hope to a post-apocalyptic world. A broken frisbee became an orbital platform where the wise retreated from a barbaric horde. A left-over sheet of parchment paper became a map to a world where men transformed themselves into dragons and forbid you to love.

Continue reading

This Day All Gods Die

This Day All Gods Die

What life is valuable? More precisely, whose life is valuable? Is your life more valuable than mine? Does your position, title, salary, or family relationship make your contribution to this small planet more valuable than mine?

This is not a small question. We ask it in fiction yet ignore it in reality. On this globe, everyday decisions have determined that some lives are more valuable than others.

Last month the powerful cyclone Idai took aim at Mozambique. It promised to be one of the deadliest storms in history, yet I heard nothing about it. Trump being a spoiled brat had plenty of news. The 2020 Presidential field saw nightly coverage. A self-centered egoist faking his attack in downtown Chicago got wall-to-wall coverage.

Continue reading

Keith Hobson’s -126th Birthday

I do not celebrate birthdays. Despite the convention, you have only one. All days after that are living days. The particular orbit of our planet around the sun has nothing to do with age. Age is biological. If our planet orbited at the distance of Uranus, most of us would never celebrate a birthday. Worse than the birthday celebration for the living is the need to celebrate a birthday for someone dead. As an orbital celebration shouldn’t it be their deathday we celebrate?

A Negative Birthday

Social custom is social custom. For this April Fool’s Day, I decided to play along and celebrate the -126-year birthday of Keith Hobson. You read that right, the minus 126-year birthday of Keith Hobson. To be born on April 1, 2145 Keith will witness humanities devastation and play an important role in its revival.

(The  events in The Fundamentals happen 125 years after the Arabian impact. Symmetry dictates that I wait till next year, but screw symmetry.) 

Keith Hobson meets Erin Smart–Keith’s View was not cut from The Fundamentals, but it is missing. This is Keith’s and Erin’s first meeting told from Keith’s point of view. When editing the final version of The Fundamentals I found that I had a few chapters told from minor character viewpoints. That was important for me to understand the story; I had to get inside their heads, but it was not important to telling the story. So, the linked scene was altered to Erin’s viewpoint.

If you have not read The Fundamentals, there are a few spoilers here, but nothing plot shattering. That we have a stranded alien trying to save his human daughter is the tagline of the novel. That Keith Hobson is a telepath who can control electronic equipment with a thought is a spoiler.

Fuck, now I have spoiled the spoiler.

Regardless, this is an interesting look into story development. Reading it two years after it was written, I am surprised how well the scene survived my final edits.

Read Keith Hobson meets Erin Smart – Keith’s View in the Shorts Section.

Keith Hobson Meets Erin Smart – Keith’s View

Keith Hobson's Space Capable Wheelchair

A Fundamentals Short Story

Keith Hobson sat in the dark and watched the raw video feeds that became the news. Earth Channel One captured the video for storage in London’s DNA data center. The raw footage—kept for historical purposes—was the real news. The EC approved streams that ran over Earth Channel One’s many networks was the news humanity needed to hear.

Earth Channel One was his idea, his and Charles Clark’s. Charles wanted a genuine propaganda wing for Explorer Corporation. He wanted every story—every disaster, every storm, every murder, every fire, every lost child—every detail of local, national, and global life connected with his vision.

When EC One had conquered the news, they manipulated other forms of media. They altered songs, plays, movies, shows, and books to reflect Charles Clark’s view of the future. Public apathy meant they didn’t have to alter older works, they offered new criticism instead; a revolutionary understanding of the past. EC One influenced every bit of media humanity consumed. A greater accomplishment than the Explorer Bridge. Space folding merely transported humanity, EC One had transformed it.

Continue reading

Evacuate!

The Living Fire, Orahi in space

A Short Story in The Fundamentals Universe

“Evac Protocol.”

The female voice announced through ship-wide speakers and personal receivers. The volume of the announcement cut through equipment noise and ear protection like a woman’s scream, but the voice was calm and certain. The piercing-calm intonations made Robert Lanigan jump, but he didn’t move, he didn’t have the time for this nonsense.

As the Santa Maria’s Cost Engineer for the Economic Comptroller his responsibility was to tag and track every component in the Santa Maria’s blockchain. Evacuation meant damage, if he didn’t complete this accounting, then this equipment would be non-existent. Comptroller Central did not accept non-existence or unaccounted value.

Every centimeter of this spaceship was logged into the largest blockchain in human history. The Santa Maria’s twenty-six years of service, (or eighty-four, depending on how you accounted for the space station orbital platform version of her existence) ensured that she was well documented. This new equipment—loaded for the First Expedition Crossing—contributed to her value. Comp Cent required an accounting.

Continue reading

Membership Discount

Annual Membership Savings 🎁

Sign up to Dapper Genius News, receive up to 1/2 off* an annual membership, and keep up to date on my latest releases!

I don’t spam! Read the privacy policy for more info.
* Terms and Conditions apply.

Follow Me

© Troy Williams. All rights reserved. Created by Troy Williams.