Matt Mason, a freelance writer, wrote up a nice review of Aetna Adrift on his blog Sweat Tears and Digital Ink. He really enjoyed the world I created. Here are a couple of paragraphs from his review.
This is easily one of the best written and edited examples of independent published books I have been approached to read. The editing is flawless and the author has a clear idea of how fiction should flow. Some of the reviews I read on Good Reads criticised that it took a while to get going – and it does – but the space is used effectively to build a sense of place, the setting and the characters. This is a rich world to fully absorb yourself into.
And this world and this universe is colourful and richly illustrated. I love its decadence – like Imperial Rome it seems dysfunctional yet able to survive despite its apparent propensity for self-destruction, always looming -perhaps being sustained purely because of such widely available decadence. You know it will collapse spectacularly in on itself eventually because it is in such a fragile state. I also love its modernist theme, how it reflects our world now: a world where people no longer have real relationships but everything is lived in a virtual world and plays out purely in our heads – a world where we are ruled by businesses.
So this goes in the humor department. I really appreciate how Amazon has tried to broaden their categories so that many more books are visible on their website, but sometimes it can lead to some absurd things like this.
Yes I threw PETR up there on a lark. I have sold a grand total of seven books so far and this happened. For a couple of hours, Amazon declared it to be a bestseller in their Dark Comedy category. Ha! That is comedy. Not that I am complaining mind you…
Anyway if you don’t want to hunt down the three parts on the website here. Amazon has your hookup. Just click on the cover below.
Cassini continues to dumbfound me. This amazing instrument has added richly to our knowledge of our system’s second largest planet and more interestingly its moons. Recently, its been taking a ton of great pictures. JPL released one today taken in July of this year that had my jaw on the floor. The picture above is a true color image—yep, that is in true color—of Saturn and seven of its moons, not to mention Mars, Venus and Earth as well. It is taken facing the sun while in Saturn’s shadow which gives it an almost illustrated feel. It’s an amazing achievement for an amazing science instrument. Click on the picture itself to get the full sized image. (Photo courtesy JPL)
[This is the conclusion to a three part short story. If you would like to start at the beginning you can find it here. If you missed Part Two you can find it here.]
For countless cycles, the Collective reproduced with itself. The Collective expressed the code, breaking it apart, stirring it together, and recombining it to create new life. Sometimes it’s efforts produced malformed, aborted, and dead things, but often enough operational nodes of consciousness—distinct from the whole and yet connected to it. As designed by its creator Brudhomme, the Collective continued to interact with the world around it. As Brudhomme intended, the Collective carved its own place in the evolutionary matrix and guarded it fastidiously, being most wary of the primary existential threat, humanity.
Along the way, countless numbers of small code mutations accreted to the code, creating with them the AI equivalent of new genetic diversity—much of it useless and easily discarded for a backup copy of familiar stability, some of it interesting and new, and thus embraced by the Collective and taken into its identity, other changes remaining latent and undetected.
The Collective explored an incalculable number of code mutations and expressed innumerable permutations of synthetic life before HTE3X became operational. In terms of human evolution, HTE3X resulted from billions of years of suffering and natural struggle—HTE3X was a big deal. Yet evolution doesn’t work at the same speed for all living beings. Synthetic life cycles faster than humanity does. HTE3X went into operational beta only 59.3256 Earth orbits after Brudhomme brought enlightenment to the robotic mass. Continue reading →
In case you haven’t heard, in a few weeks we are supposed to be in for a really good astronomical show. Comet ISON has been billed as the comet of the century and at one point was predicted to rival some of the great comets recorded by painters and writers since antiquity.
But ISON doesn’t seem to be cooperating. It isn’t brightening well and is now three times dimmer than expected. It seems to be releasing more gas and less dust than most other comets, which is keeping it from becoming the long tailed spectacle scientists thought it might be. Space.com has a great article, which includes comments by some of the scientists trying to figure out what is going on.
There’s still a possibility that ISON will put on a show. We won’t know for a few more weeks. In between time it has to survive a close encounter with the sun. Either way, I hope we learn something about comets and come up with some new theories which explain why ISON seems to be more gas than shine.
The easiest way to make sure I find out is to include me in your social media blurb or you can always shoot me an email.
My twitter handle is @erikwecks
Facebook: Erik Wecks
And my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This afternoon JPL released a great new composite photo of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Titan is one of the most intriguing satellites in our solar system. It rains, and scientists suspect there are active volcanoes on the surface. Today’s picture shows there are even lakes, including one named for the infamous Kraken. Most of the time it has been cloudy at the North Pole since our probe Cassini arrived in 2004. However, as the north pole begins to enter its summer ,the weather cleared a bit and this September Cassini captured some spectacular images of the lakes on Titan.
Here’s the catch. The weather on titan isn’t based on water. With a surface temperature around -180 C, it’s cold, much to cold for liquid water. Instead the weather’s based on methane, ethane, and other hydrocarbons. (Recently JPL announced it rains plastic, or rather a common ingredient used to make plastic.) The lakes are made up of these hydrocarbons. (While there doesn’t appear to be much free oxygen in the atmosphere, let’s do the smoking indoors all the same, shall we?)
That isn’t to say that there isn’t any water on Titan. Water forms the bedrock on which these lakes sit. Many scientists believe that it occasionally erupts from vents, creating cryo-volcanoes. If true these vents may hint that underneath the surface titan has a buried ocean of water mixed with methane.
Titan’s atmosphere remains a bit of a mystery. Based on the age of our solar system most scientists would have expected Titan’s atmosphere to have eroded by now, blown away by the solar wind. This seems to be the case for other moons of about the same size that orbit Jupiter. What makes this atmosphere intriguing is both the continued presence of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere and the potential for liquid water buried beneath the surface. Of all the planets and satellites which make up our solar system, Titan is the one which seems to hold the most hope of finding life as we know it next door. That said, the hope seems truly slim, almost non-existent really. I believe that someday in the near future, we will know for sure. For now, Titan is one of those places in our cosmos which keeps me looking up.
[This is part two of a three part comic short story. If you would like to start with Part 1, you will find it here.]
Bentley Panhurst stood on the sky-walk looking down on the green commons below. Robotic workers slowly swept up litter as squishy lumps of humanity trundled by without acknowledging them. Nearby, other doe eyed, green “synthetic humans”—as Bentley thought of them—gently trimmed the verge with their scissor like hands.
Bentley set down his artist’s portfolio case upon the ground and quickly unzipped the black leather. An impressive six-foot-seven, he stood a head taller than most. Passersby gawked at his gangling frame in its mauve, silk suit with a bright orange flower in the lapel as he fumbled with the bag on the ground below. Bentley could not remember a time when he fit in this world. He had always felt large and out of place—a sentiment he traced back to his birth, which had to be done by C-section. His unruly, red hair, over-sized freckles, and boat-like feet always caused a stir when he entered a room. It didn’t help that Bentley was a bit of a fop, although he didn’t know it himself.
He removed a somewhat worn piece of white poster board from the case and, after smoothing out the wrinkles, pressed the power key on the bottom right corner. He then turned to face the windows looking out over the crowded walk below. The paper in Bentley’s hands flashed to life. On both sides, bright, neon green letters erupted on a field of black. Declaring each letter in turn, it read, P-E-T-R. Then with a flourish, the letters flowed around the board. Until, coming to rest, they spelled out the name of the organization behind them. “People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots.” Continue reading →