Sleep and Leftovers

Dreams remember they don’t mean much.

Snippets, memories, old desires and such.

Memories of memories become loops. Internal errors.

A Treasure hunter is on the beach tonight. Metal detector sweeps the sand while the waves crash hard.

Take the good and leave the bad.

Programmable robot.

Reboot your glitch.

Robot

His doubts started with his changing values. Take a look at the things he holds most dear. The opinions, the causes, the risks and the opportunities. He noticed they were not as permanent or as important as he once thought. He found out they are interchangeable. Take out one strongly held belief and swap it, like a battery or a computer chip, for the complete opposite belief. Life goes on.

In fact he is becoming convinced that he is a programmable robot, more than an organic, free, human being. He looks down at his own arms. Is there blood under this skin? Is there a mechanical, robot-arm like Arnie in the Terminator movies? And blood doesn’t count as proof of life. What is “blood” anyways? Liquid full of little micro-robots delivering chemical loads and hormones around his body to keep the robot system in balance.

What would a robot do?

Smugglers Edits no. 2

Following on from my editing of Sci-Fi cerative posts – this is number two in the series so far:

Marlon kept whooping and shouting and cheering as he turned his head straight up towards the sky. He was so excited each time he threw a card, all he could do was shout like a chimp. Up above, the clouds dissolved before his eyes. The storm of the century had been neutralised by the card, as if someone threw a bucket of water on a camp fire. Looking up Marlon saw clear skies and the sight of the heavens took the scream from his mouth. Completely silent, he fell. The smuggler saw a perfect night sky. Like thick, creamy velvet he felt he could almost scoop up the blackness in between the stars. Dark galactic ice cream, Marlon felt it would probably taste like liquorice.

The Milky Way stretched out and twinkled forever. There were shooting stars blazing all around, and far to the east the rainbow colours of a nebula cloud glistened against the black space. To the North, on the horizon a faint aurora pulsated.

Marlon kept his eyes on the skies for as long as he dared, a big smile stretched on his face. He knew that if he looked for too long after throwing a card, he risked going crazy, bewitched by the beauty. He had heard stories of men wasting away to skeletons, their skulls looking up to the sky, smiling even as they starved to death just to stare at the beauty above. With effort, he pulled his head down, wiped away the water from his face and turned his eyes back to where he had been searching during the storm, at the bottom of the Tor on the plains.

With the help of the starlight, Marlon could now see close to the horizon the place he was looking for. It was a slight rise in the plains, and at the base of the rise a small fire was burning. From the top of the Tor this was nothing more than a dot of light. It looked like another tiny star on the ground, except it was noticeably green in colour and flickering on the plains. Eyes straight ahead, Marlon blew a kiss to the velvet sky above and started his descent of Nea Tor. Shooting stars rained all around him but the night remained silent. Silent that is, except for the old rain water which squelched in his boots with every step.

Dune final thoughts

So I finally finished Dune – the sci-fi classic which has clearly influenced the likes of Game Of Thrones and most other popular sci-fi stories since. I had two final thoughts on why it is so impressive and resilient to this day as a gripping sci-fi story.

First – The characters are super, but the world in which they inhabit is the real star of the show. A character on its own merit, Arrakis dominates any event in the book. Just as ‘winter is coming’ in GOT, the extreme weather and awesome beauty of the desert planet is what the main characters have to come to terms with to fulfill their destiny. Though it is a completely different sort of novel, I am seeing a similar strong focus on setting and location in the book i am currently reading: “The Knowledge” By Steven Pressfield.

The impressive depth of the cultures, languages and religions created by the author in Dune are second to only Lord of The Rings in my experience. I marvel at the time this and dedication this must have taken from Frank Herbert. It gives the story authenticity and reflects back to the reader our own clan like behaviour and superstitions here on earth.

Dune is magnificent. Well worth the read and the reputation it has gathered.

Dune update

Following on from my previous posts, Dune is becoming more than a pleasant read for me, it is so good that I am treating it as a sort of Sci-Fi guru and teacher. A reference book to refer to when creating futuristic worlds.

Its scale and scope started out very large and wide – moving between two planets, explaining complex political relationships, alien life forms, technologies, religions and histories. However, passing the half way mark the author has chosen to zoom in on a few characters, killing off a big presence Ned Stark style, and focusing on subtlety and detail in the characters and their particular situations. It’s very absorbing!

This ‘zooming in’ technique (for want of a better word) has been a revelation to me and I plan to try and use it in the future.

 

Smugglers Of Earth – 5

When the Shepherd Trolls came to Old Earth, they wept like babies. The Trolls snuck in through a small portal left open by the Bantam civilization. Expecting easy spoils, what they found was full scale warfare which had turned Old Earth into a frightening place. Before they could retreat back through the portal, it had already closed. A Shepherd Troll is not brave, and when it is in tears it sounds like a howling monkey. Hiding for months, once the humans evacuated and Bantam rule was established the Trolls could move more freely. Collecting spells, treasures and goats as they travelled, the Sodom of Trolls grew to a healthy size and Lughar proved himself the most canny and ruthless of the group. It was his idea to take Robert Johnson from the circus.

As the storm of the century stopped, sensing that something was not right, Lughar made his way underground. Using a large stick with a green flame as a torch, Lughar stepped through uneven corridors and rickety structures down into the abandoned mine which had been turned into a Troll cave. Walking steadily deeper underground, faint music started to fill the air.

Gotta keep moving, Gotta keep moving

hellhound on my trail. Mmmhmmm, hellhound on my trail”

The corridor flattened out and after three more right turns, Lughar stopped at a small wooden door and pulled a big iron key out of his pocket. The song was clearly emanating from behind the door, vocals of a tortured soul rising up through the cave. Lughar smiled viciously, turned the big lock and opened up the door. The music stopped suddenly.

Lughar stepped into the dark, cold cell and grinned at the sad scene in front of him, “Mr Johnson, you missed quite a storm up there. But don’t worry, we’ll make sure you stay nice and wet down here”

A trembling voice came out the darkness, along with the distinctive clink of chains, “Oh s…sorry boss, I’m s…. s …so …sorry boss….was i too l….l….loud with the singing boss?”

Lughar thrust his torch of fire into the cell, illuminating the head, arms and chains in front of him. “Stop your snivelling!”

Robert Johnson was a 75 kilo orangutan. He was Lughar’s most valuable treasure.

Dune update

Over the weekend I have been away on plane flights and had evenings alone in bed and breakfasts which has given me time to get further into Dune.

What a book!

The flaws in the father’s character are becoming apparent, and the interactions with the local Fremen are adding an extra dimension to the tale.

It is such an engaging book, I think of it like a microscope which is gradually zooming in closer and closer to the inevitable war and dangers on the planet of Arrakis. Detail and nuance is getting more and more….well detailed! and Nuanced!

There is no turning back for any of the characters, only forward into the desert.

Love it.

Thoughts on Dune

I managed to read a hefty chunk of Dune today (I have read 17% of the book). It is wonderful in its focus on just the right details.

Often when I write I become overwhelmed by the sheer scale of limitless possibility in fiction. The options are endless. The trick is getting the right boundaries in place to make believe.

Dune does this so well. The author is very precise and clear in their characters, images, its fictional folklore and worlds. Also, the pace at which the story is building is excellent too. A sense of tension and impending doom for some characters is mixed with excitement at retribution and glory for others.

Needless to say, I am completely hooked.

Smugglers of Earth – 4

The Nexus Space Station sat in orbit 400 kilometers above the planet of Bendaiir. The size of a small town, The Nexus was large enough to hold 500 people comfortably in its 4 quarters. Much smaller cruise ships and freighters came and went at regular intervals. Delivery ships docking to the mothership. Every few minutes, the Nexus fired its massive boosters to keep from being pulled down out of orbit by old earth’s gravity. Attached behind the body of the Nexus was a sort of interstellar trailer with hundreds and hundreds of bright blue capsules of varying sizes. Like a massive tray of eggs being pulled behind the ship.

At the helm of the Nexus, Captain Maddox was leaning over a communication device growing increasingly frustrated at the reception. “Hello? Marlon? Smuggler 1, do you read?”

“It’s the storm sir, they say it’s the storm of the century. Likely to go on for many hours still.” Marcus the engineer was pushing buttons and reading lists of code from the multiple screens on the dash board as he spoke. “I think it threw our co-ordinates off too. Last reading we had of the Smuggler, he was at the bottom of Colm Naiir. We wanted to port him to the top for the view.”

The Nexus was created in a moment of crisis. In the year 2200 The Bantam Civilization opened a portal to old earth, leaving the planet open to a classic Bantam siege. First the large, strong and alien Bantams had negotiated with the frightened humans, taking minerals and metals by the ship load through the portal, enriching a few humans and draining the planet at an alarming rate. Then water and food became their priority.

Desperation grew on old earth but any resistance by humans was quashed by the Bantams with advanced weapons and magic. Lakes dried up, forests turned to farmlands with no human access. The Bantams intended to bleed the planet dry.

In a panic, the UN and all banking organizations of old earth diverted all funding to a full scale planetary migration. Humans managed to find a habitable planet, pack up and leave with startling success and haste. What they left behind was the animals.

Increasingly endangered and prized throughout the galaxy as rare hostages, pets, and zoo exhibits – old earth’s biodiversity was on the edge of disappearing. Old earth’s red list of endangered animals had hundreds of species with less than 5 individuals accounted for. Nexus was created to smuggle the most endangered animals to safety. The most advanced weapons and transportation technology made the Nexus a formidable ship, able to move freely through the Milky Way. Blue pods cryogenically froze the most endangered animals of old earth, ready for space transport and introduction to the manufactured biospheres of new earth. But first, the animals had to be found and saved. The strategy was to smuggle the animals away from captivity and have them ported up to the Nexus. Sometimes the animals were captive on old earth. Often they were in the far flung planets of the Milky Way. Planets such as Bendaiir with its shepherd trolls.

Captain Maddox let out a frustrated sigh and bowed his head, “I guess all we can do is wait it out then?”

Marcus nodded, “That, or maybe he can use a card. If not, those trolls will get more and more rowdy. Not good smuggling conditions though, and a potential danger to the asset.”

Dune

I have started to read Dune.

I am 10% of the way in (according to kindle!) and it is fantastic so far. Like a fine painting, the author is adding layer upon layer to his characters. I can already see the influence it has had on other work such as Game Of Thrones.

My plan is to work through all these books, taking as long as it takes – because this is enjoyable to me. No deadline, no cutoff. Just a bunch of excellent books to read. Without doubt this will have an influence on my own writing. For that I am also excited.