creating without trying

Not TryingThe world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.

—Homer Simpson

There are stacks of useful tips on the web about writing and creativity in general, but I find coming up with original ideas is still a struggle. This is a technique that sometimes works for me. Continue reading

fear of infinity

amoeba02This discussion of infinite time and its consequences came about because a character in the story Lighter than Claire suggested (not literally) that it might be worth writing something on the topic.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the vanitas, or vanity, art style carried the religious reminder that life is temporary—mostly everyone dies. Nevertheless, concepts of living forever, life after life, and life after death have been around for a long time, in many religions as well as in fiction. While some people are quite keen on one afterlife possibility or another, others, like Richard Dawkins,¹ would prefer to simply stay dead after they die. Continue reading

fantasy, sci fi, and the ancient mariner

Ancient MarinerFantasy and science fiction are the dominant categories under the broad speculative fiction banner, but what’s the difference between them? I started wondering about that when I re-read Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which was a source for Jacinta’s Lovers.

The Rime is one of my favourite poems, but a couple of verses have always puzzled me—

‘But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind ?’

‘The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.’

Continue reading

how to photograph the future

flower in timeAs well as entertaining us (sometimes), speculative fiction asks and answers ‘what if’ questions that can open up new possibilities and fire the imagination.

In this blog I’ve written up some of the non-fiction speculations behind my stories, and I was interested to see that a new publisher, Sci Phi Journal (Science Fiction and Philosophy) makes the connection explicit by adding “Food for Thought” sections after the stories and including essays that discuss philosophical aspects of spec fic.

Time travel is a spec fic standard that has never gone away, and in the sometimes real world, a lot of questions about the nature of time—physical, philosophical and neurological—still have no clear answer. Continue reading

the cat in the box paradox

Schrodingers_catOne source for the Ambisia story was the quantum mechanical (QM) cat in the box paradox devised by Schrödinger.

In Schrödinger’s thought experiment, a microscopic QM event is used to kill a cat in a sealed box. The event might be the emission of a subatomic particle and then using it to fire a gun, release poison etc.

The paradox is that there is a certain probability that the cat-killing particle will be released in a certain time, and evidently the QM state of the cat in the box is mixed, ie, it contains superimposed QM wave functions representing both a living cat and a dead cat.

When the cat owner opens the box, they see one or the other state, and depending on what they were hoping for, they might be disappointed. Continue reading

the moon mirror lake

moonmirrorJacyuaruá, the Moon Mirror Lake, is part of the mythology of the Tupi-Guarani people of the Amazon, and it features in various legends. In one, female warriors dived into the deep lake and retrieved pieces of jade to carve into Muiraquitã amulets with supernatural powers that they gave to their lovers. While the women did the diving, the men drank fermented cassava juice and watched the football (probably). Continue reading

the three marias

Brasao TresMarias MG

Coat of Arms of Três Marias, MG, Brazil

In many countries the stars of Orion’s Belt are called The Three Marias. In Minas Gerais, Brazil, there is a small city with the same name (Três Marias), and there are various explanations of how it came to be called that. The most intriguing is the story of three sisters named Maria. Continue reading