Monthly Archives: January 2014

Brain Wave

I usually plan out my reading schedule way in advance. For instance I have C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves on the non-fiction plate at the moment followed by Frank Steed’s Theology and Sanity. In the fiction front I have Jack Vance’s Demon Prince series (5 books) followed by the first volume of R.A. Lafferty’s short work that is due out next month, followed by John C. Wright’s The Judge of Ages.

If you wonder, and you may, why someone who wishes to write (and tries when he can) science fiction would waste his time with theology and not physics or at least the other sciences, I have an answer. I think there are more answers to be found in theology, for the purposes of writing science fiction, than there are in the sciences. I do not count psychology nor philosophy in that account.

I don’t disregard science, nor think it bereft of answers. But for my purposes, I find more gold in theology than in science. I have two things to support this (and note – this is subjective). Most of my favorite science fiction authors have little or no background in science. Not as professions. There are a few exceptions. Second, as long as the technological or astronomical idea doesn’t disrupt my suspension of disbelief of itself, I am easy to please and I won’t dig too hard.

If you want to use an FTL drive in your book, I say go for it. I don’t care. But you better have something to say or a good story to tell. I am none too concerned about the technical details.

I am a space opera guy through and through.

But back to my original point which I haven’t even alluded to yet. After Wright’s book I am free and clear and so I am going to tackle Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave. I’ll simply paste the synopsis from Amazon below.

What if we were all designed to be smarter than we actually are? That is the premise of master science fiction novelist Poul Anderson’s 1954 debut work, Brain Wave. Unbeknown to its inhabitants, the solar system has for millions of years been caught in a force field that has had the effect of supressing intelligence. When in the course of normal galactic movement the solar system breaks free of the force field that has held it in its sway for so long, gone are the inhibiting effects and a remarkable change begins to sweep across the earth.

In fact, the entire world is turned upside-down and Anderson’s novel is devoted to detailing the sometimes surprising, sometimes chilling aftereffects of this watershed event. In one of the novel’s opening scenes, Archie Brock, a mentally disabled man, finds himself suddenly awash in new kinds of thought as he ponders the night sky. In another scene, a young boy on a summer break works out the basic fundamental foundations of calculus before breakfast. Human life is dramatically transformed, as people with IQs of 400 find themselves living within social structures and institutions designed for people of considerably lower intelligence. There are others who refuse to accept what has happened and instead band together in a rebellion against the new order.

I find this premise very intriguing and am eager to find out how he treated it because I think I may want to do something with the idea. Obviously not rewrite the story, but to offer my own hypothesis depending on what his is.

Is it plausible that all our institutions, our mores, Continue reading

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Hit and Run Reviews

I am not a reviewer – of anything. I hate reviewing things. I don’t particularly like reading reviews either. If I haven’t read it, the review will give too much away if not by details then by anticipatory means. With a movie that is fine; it is a two hour investment. If someone has assured me some comedy sucks and I go in with low expectations, I may find it wasn’t so bad after all and may even enjoy it. The same cannot be said of books. The investment in time is too much.

And if I have read the book, what do I need to read the review for?

I do understand the need for reviews… I guess.

Except for Doctor Sleep and Oliver Twist, I have been choosing my books from a review site called Science Fiction Ruminations found here. So far his 4.5 – 5.0 reviews have been spot on. I don’t read his (or hers) reviews either, just the ratings. I may go and read some of the reviews for the ones I read. Sometimes the value in that is you may have missed something significant about the book that the reviewer didn’t.

I’ve been on a reading spree since November and am in the middle of book number 8. Here comes some hit and miss reviews! In no particular order…

Oliver Twist: Classic, flawless. One of the best books I have ever read. Like the guy needs a good review…

Doctor Sleep: This is Stephen King’s sequel of sorts to Continue reading


Fun with First Drafts!

They scare the hell out of me.

Then amuse me.

Late November I wrote the first 2,000 words of a story. I typically abandon these first tries for a long time. Sometimes I will forget about them for months on end. I usually will not even read them after writing until that distant date in the future. And there is no need, unless one is going to write and then edit right away (which I can’t imagine doing) one should remember what one has just written.

That, and it looks better two weeks or one month later than it does that night.

That I will change, if not every word, then the entire thing as a whole, I take as a given. After all, I rarely have more than a grain of an idea when I start. The first attempt has as much to do with me finding out what the story is as with anything else.

Actually, it has more to do with me finding out what the story isn’t!

Case in point. The story I was working on late in November was about a message found in a bottle that spoke of an alien invasion. Then we’d follow the Continue reading