Saturday, August 29, 2020

Fall is here

While the kids are starting school across the country and getting ready to start in our local school district, the weather is changing. The dog days of summer ended over the last couple of days. Autumn is coming on time, just in time. We finally had rain this past week to make up for six week of drought--everything did come went around us. We live in a town that is a vortex of rain going around. It's just odd... until the wet season comes; then nothing stops it. The inch of rain that we had over the course of a couple different storms this past week soaked right in--the ground is still mostly dry despite the rain. It's needed that badly. It will be nice to see our lawn green up just in time for winter. This is the opposite of last year, which was far too wet.

The daily highs are cooling down from 90's to 70's too. Normally when this happens, the animals get a little friskier. However, Buddy seems to have settled down. I haven't ridden for four weeks, but today was a good ride. We're combining dressage work and reining work now to get him thinking more in tune of balance but also rollbacks to turn a cow. He seemed a little edgy with the cooler day and wind but actually handled himself quite well. We had a good ride without him freaking out from the kids cleaning barn or playing and the small flatbed in the middle of the grassy area where we work.

When we took a little ride around the feedlots, things were a little different. Still, he's come a long ways from a year ago. Getting past the quonset to head to the feedlots was a little challenge, but he didn't freak out like he used to. And going around the feedlots wasn't much of a concern. He never called for his friends the whole time I had him away from his herd. It helped to have the donkey with us, but even when his herd was calling for them, he didn't reply. That's a HUGE improvement in his behavior that has come on this year.

Afterwards, I rewarded him with a little extra feed, which the donkey kept trying to steel. She's figured out how to tip his bucket, even when it's not quite in easy reach.

Jewel follows us all over, even right back to the pasture. She's a little attention whore.

When I turn Buddy back to his herd, I always give him a little rub down. You'd never know he was head-shy when I bought him five years ago. He LOVES having his ears, eyes, and poll rubbed and will yawn, blow/snort, and shake his head with a big sigh of pleasure. If I don't give him that little reward, he gives me a look that I swear is meant to shame me for forgetting. Spoiled but worth it. He'll be starting to get fuzzy soon enough.

Our cats are spoiled too. They're a little more active on cooler days. On hot days, they'd just plop on the deck like they'd melted. On cool days, they're more attentive and watching the activity in the yard. Jack jumped over the gate to get to the stairs and go down today. We caught him in time, but it was startling. He doesn't usually do that. We put him inside, where he cried and cried to go out then. He must have seen something he wanted to check out. Dargo, however, just likes to lay outside in the fresh air and doesn't cause problems. Suki sometimes jumps up on the rail.

It was an interesting day with our animals.

Jack and Dargo snuggle
not today but too cute not to share

Friday, August 21, 2020

writing update 8-21-20

I've been busy with Forgotten Worlds 9. It's being told in a non-linear linear fashion. It begins mid-story and jumps back and forth, starting from a few days earlier to the present activity, eventually to converge. I don't know why I was inspired to write it this way. It has been a challenge, and I hope it's worth it in the end.

The hardest part is trying to put the pieces together in a manner so that the intended focus of the story is cohesive throughout. I know where the series is going and what I intend to take place later, so that is affecting the characters now. And then I have to balance it with where the characters should be now, because there are hints now of what's to come in the subtleties of their growth and changes as characters. Keeping them who they are while doing that within the context of the series and of the individual story is a big challenge.

Now that I have you thoroughly confused, I'll let you go back and read the first six books and pre-order the seventh to see how this series is anything but ordinary space opera.

Available now:

Pre-order (Available October 29, 2020):

Coming Winter 2021:

More to Come!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

truth and science fiction

Classical science fiction is my first love of reading. Anything from its early days, especially the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. They told stories of adventure in settings that were not possible, at least not at the times in which they lived. I also have enjoyed Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Michael Crichton, and many others, for their imaginative and fantastic stories. I've also grown up with much in terms of visual storytelling (tv and movies) with Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Stargate, etc.

However, the fantastic worlds and beings are not the full picture of why science fiction is my first love. The real appeal is in stories that present a view of the human condition using the science fiction settings, especially alien worlds and cultures.

Whether it involves humans or aliens, science fiction (and also fantasy) allows us to explore ideas that we can't in our real world. It provides a means of exploring other governments, cultures, and environmental settings that interact to create an alien race or alter the human race. The many sub-genres provide infinite possibilities, like the theory of alternate realities, where every decision branches off into a new reality. Whether time-travel, space opera, cyberpunk, thriller, monsters, and on and on, the broad scope of the science fiction genre offers us the opportunity to say "what if..." It is these explorations that add depth to our human consciousness and allow us to look at alternatives or a mirror into our present circumstances.

A writer sees through the lens of their experience and opinions. A good writer goes outside of themselves and creates situations, worlds, characters they don't necessarily like or agree with. It provides the opportunity to see a different perspective, but always it is filtered through the writer's own view. It can be difficult to set aside oneself to write from a different viewpoint, but in really getting outside of one's own perspectives, that character/culture/species can offer the writer and reader a contrast from which other characters/cultures/species can stand out. Depending on the purpose of the writer's vision, this can offer insights that one might not have otherwise considered. It's a matter of keeping an open mind on both the part of the writer and the reader.

And then there is the reader's perspective. A writer tries to portray a certain view, sometimes even changing theirs. (Stories that start out with well-thought and well-developed characters/cultures/etc. fall apart when a writer tries to force their hand into it and not let it develop more naturally from what was established up front.) A reader brings to a story their experience and opinions that color how they view a story and what they believe it should be. This may agree with or contradict the way the writer develops the story. But this is just a side note to where I'm going.

I love science fiction for its ability to explore anything, but I also love the science behind it. I love the logic and I love the ability to explore things that I couldn't in my life. I also love that science fiction can sometimes be more believable than real life.

One thing that has come to mind lately, which prompted this post, is an episode of Babylon 5 called "Infection". The episode is about an alien artifact that attaches to a man and transforms him into a killing machine intent on eliminating any being that wasn't "pure" of the species that created it. In the end, it was revealed that this symbiote destroyed the whole civilization, because no one was "pure". It seems almost prophetic to what we are seeing with cancel culture. Nothing is pure enough for them and as one set of opinions is wiped out, they go after the next, until there would be nothing left, because nothing is "pure" anything. It's all based on the individual's perspective, seen through the lens of their lives.

The episode is over 26 years old and had applied well to Hitler's vision for a "perfect" race, which I might assume to have influenced the idea. Here we are, decades later, and this episode is still relevant in our current cultural climate. It serves as a warning that if we don't change, our society is doomed to destroy itself. There has to be compromise and acceptance that nothing is perfect, nor will it be.

This is what I enjoy about science fiction--exploring the human condition by looking from outside out present circumstances to explore the many alternative possibilities of what may be. And in that, it speaks truth to our present condition.