Friday Sci Fi Questions:

Asking for a friend. Not at all tipping my hand about things that may or may not be in The Novel That Shall Not Be Named, for which I’m doing detailing/clean up on the science aspects of the major plot points. (I suppose if I were better read in Sci Fi, I’d know the answer to these.  But I’m not.)

Image result for ion cannon
Yes, deploying a Star Wars ion cannon picture in a blog post asking science questions. It’s like, ironic or something. But – well? Does that blast keep going forever if it misses the Star Destroyer? Until it hits something else? 
  1. Ion trails: (this one really is just idle curiosity) Would not using an ion drive of any sort leave a trail through space that is sorta like long-lived invisible razor wire? A strong ion beam could saw somebody in half – could it saw somebody in half a light year away? So: is there some natural process – other than running into something – that mitigates this? I start to wonder if multiple ships headed for the same destination using some sort of ion drive would not eventually create a hazard. Sure, space is, as the Hitchhiker’s Guide tells us, very, very big – but if ships are leaving from the same place and going to the same destination, would not this be an issue, eventually, even allowing for proper motion?
  2. One thing that’s always bothered me about nanobots and even larger self-directed, self-replicating bots: how are they not susceptible or less susceptible to exactly the sort of damage/decay as living cells? Why would they not be subject to ‘nanocancers’ just as much as living cells are subject to regular cancers? I’d expect the problem to be even worse: the mechanisms that govern living things have gone through trillions of trials over billions of year, which has strongly tended to weed out stuff that doesn’t work, for most values of work. Yet cancers and other malfunctions seem to be ubiquitous among living things. This seems to be a classic unkowns we don’t know situation: if we knew how it worked, we’d have cured cancer by now. So, we think our bots will be any better? That data won’t get miscopied or damaged by radiation? Sure, there are a few animals with very low cancer rates – but we as of yet don’t really understand how that works.
  3. I often wondered about the whole ‘spinning hollow asteroid’ trick – wouldn’t that sucker have to be very carefully balanced? Get a little mass off-center, create a wobble – and? Does it correct itself once the mass imbalance is removed? Doesn’t this preclude moving around inside it much? Maybe a single person isn’t much, but how about a crowd? A piece of machinery?  I’m imagining a computer-controlled system of counterbalances might be required, which detects and corrects any wobbles before they get bad.

Like I said, asking for a friend.

Books, Question, Dumb Stuff, Writing

Books: On John C. Wright’s general recommendation, got Writing the Breakout Novel, which I’m now reading. It is being helpful so far.

Also got Mike Flynn’s Captive Dreams. Been meaning to for a while. Now to find time to read it.

Also also, got Recovering a Catholic Philosophy of Elementary Education for when I get back on the education reading wagon.

Question: I use the Google news feed as “the news”, meaning if it appears there I consider it to have made the news, and if not, I don’t see it. Well? Does this seem fair? Prudent? I’m working under the assumption that Google is no more or less biased on the whole than any other means I could come up with to determine what is “in the news” at any given time.

Dumb Stuff: Speaking of which, a couple weeks back, I noticed in the news – the Google news feed, that is – that the markets, after pretty much uninterrupted gains since Trump’s election, had a few down days. Did the headlines say, as the often do, “Markets Pull Back as Investors Take Profits” or something like that? Is the Pope unambiguous? Headlines read, instead, that the honeymoon was over! Investor confidence in Trump had petered out. Sigh. Markets go up and down. If you knew why (beyond it being merely the mechanical result of people buying and selling stock), then you’d be rich – and not writing headlines. Ya know?

So now, the markets have resumed their irrational exuberance or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days. Do the headline writers give Trump credit? Like saying -“Oops! We Were Wrong About the Honeymoon Being Over” or in any way acknowledge that what they’d said a mere week or two ago was patent nonsense? Trump still appalls me, but not nearly as much as the out of control frothing attacks on him. Here’s a pro tip: Wait a bit, and Trump will do something objectively bad that you can clobber him for – every other president has. (He probably already has, but how is one to spot it among all the ravings and spittle?) Then you (the headline writers) won’t look so stupid to anyone with eyes to see.

Dumber still, I read and was writing an analysis of an essay by some Chicago reporter that was an attack on those with the temerity to point out that, wow, despite (?) a solid century or more of Progressive leadership, including lots of gun control, people in Chicago sure do seem to murder each other at a much higher rate than in other cities. We are assured the reasons for the 59% year over year increase in murder rate are complicated, and in any event invisible unless you happen to have lived you whole life in Chicago – I’m boiling it down a bit, but that’s what the residue lining the pot looks like when the boiling is done. And if you insist on pushing the question, you are by that fact alone acting with bad intent.

It was getting out of hand – there was so much misdirection (1) that I was getting pages into my analysis and was still digging yet more craziness up. So I stopped. Unless we can deal first with the facts instead of immediately playing the ‘it’s complicated, you can’t understand’ card, there is no discussion.

It seems, then, there is no discussion.

jan-austen
You get the idea. 

Writing: Finally, as mentioned above, I’m reading that Writing the Breakout Novel book, which is eating into my writing time, but I figure it will help in the long run. The first takeaway is not made explicitly, but reminds me of my callow youth, when I used to compose music. I discovered that – you’ll be shocked – coming up with nice tunes and pretty snippets of music was easy. Keeping fixed in mind where the whole composition was going proved much more difficult. Unless you want to write very short pieces, you have to know, on some level, where you are going before you start.(3)

Same with writing novels. I had all these cool tech and plot ideas. But where is the story going? How does it move from A to B to C? This may seem crazy, but I grabbed Jane Austen’s Emma to read, since I hear it has exactly what I’m most missing: complicated characters acting out of a variety of interest and talents toward different and conflicting goals. And it is otherwise completely different from what I’m working on.

Bottom line: I am not (yet) frustrated with the slow writing. I want to wrap up these explorations of technique ASAP, then just refuse to do any more until the book is done.

Hey, it’s a plan.

  1. e.g., in one linked article, the claim was made that more deadly weapons were now being used – I suppose they mean higher caliber? In one year? A commentator noted that Al Capone and his fellow solid Chicago citizens preferred .45 calibre Thompson sub machineguns that, at the time, were available for purchase at hardware stores. Yet, even counting the people Capone offed, there were still only 50 murders per year in Chicago, so blaming the increased deadliness on more powerful weapons seems a reach. For making this point, the commentator was called all sorts of names. Go figure.
  2. e.g., that, while Chicago’s murder rate keeps going up, cities like Houston have a flat murder count (despite a growing population) even though they have about the same racial & ethnic mix as Chicago and are about the same size.
  3. I love improve – probably what I’m best at – but those off the cuff compositions tend to meander, stick to very simple forms, or both. Or end up formless goo.

 

Writing, Updates, Quips

Once you lose ‘useful’, all that’s left is ‘idiot’.

The correct heads keep exploding. I could get used to this level of political amusement.

Wish it weren’t so, but I keep running into the means versus ends problem: a large, often sincere, group of people who seem to be experiencing real pain over this, can’t grasp the possibility that one might not be a racist or hate poor people or otherwise wish any harm on anyone and still see enough problems with, say, the ACA and the EPA to want them at the very least serious revised. Instead, mind-reading is performed with an assumed degree of infallibility that would make a Pope blush, and it conclusively presumed to be KNOWN that all opposition to anything proposed by the government that has a name that could be construed to favor a particular end is because EVIL.

This brings to mind a related problem, perhaps a sort of magical reverse  Nominalism is at work here? Rather than thinking that abstract concepts don’t exist, many of the enlightened and their victims seem to think that simply naming something magically brings the concept in the name into being. Sort of like thinking calling a cat a dog makes it a dog.

Thus, if a bill is proposed which simply confiscates and redirects money and resources but is nonetheless named The Fair and Equitable Justice for Poor People Act, one must support it, even or particularly if the actual provisions of the bill lack any logical connection with providing justice to poor people. What? You oppose justice for poor people on the transparently dishonest grounds that the bill doesn’t, in fact. provide justice for poor people? You hater, you!

In the minds of many, the Affordable Care Act IS affordable care. It is not just a law, slapped together by political operatives, named by committee, and rammed through Congress with panicky alacrity,(1)  which can be analyzed and rejected *on the merits of what is actually being enacted* – nope, it IS what its name claims it will achieve. Like the People’s Republic of North Korea is a republic for the people.

Similarly, just because the Environmental Protection Agency’s name suggests that it protects the environment doesn’t mean that’s what it really does any more than the Committee for Public Safety actually promoted the safety of French people. Rather than look to its name, might reasonable people look to it actually does in practice?

Right after the ACA passed, our company had its annual meeting with the benefits company we work with. The woman who did the presentation on health care was still trying to figure out how the law was going to work, but did let slip that while many new benefits had been proposed, so far no mechanism to control underlying costs had come to light. In the years after, she just never mentioned that again and instead stuck to promoting the best options available to a small company like ours – probably, I would suppose, pointing out the truth, a truth painfully obvious now as premiums keep going up, did not get a sympathetic or even rational reception from the enlightened souls here in the Bay Area. She might have scars from daring to mention it.

Patent medicines all had charming names that made it sound like they were good for you! Even the ones that killed people.

Writing: have been attending meeting where, for long stretches, my participation and even attention are not required. Have taken to jotting down characters and relationships and incidents for The Novel That Shall Not Be Named. Things have picked up.

Been trying to make sure I get in at least an hour of writing on TNTSNBN a day. So far in 2017, I probably averaging that, but it’s been far more lumpy. How does one learn self discipline in one’s 6th decade of life? Any tips?

Upshot: while the 1st draft word count has only risen to 3600, the outline of plot points and family tress and notes on space travel science and such have grown a lot. I can see the shape of the whole now. Most important, I have come more to grips with reality: it’s just a story, make it as engaging as possible, follow the template, and get it done. I am sure I’m not alone among amateurs in occasionally getting paralyzed by the idea that I’m writing something GREAT and therefore it must be GREAT at every moment. I think this stems partly from the fear that I’ll never write anything else so I must pour my whole heart into this one thing. Instead, if I think of it as any one of the dozens of home improvement project I’ve done, where you do the best you can with what’s at hand but get it done – well, then I can get it done.

Anyway, the writing is fun at the moment. Don’t know when I’ll next have something to throw up on this blog, and really don’t know when I’ll start recruiting 1st readers and then (gulp!) an editor. But let’s shoot for draft 1 complete this year!

  1. That the movie Lincoln came out shortly after the bill was passed  I would normally dismiss as a mere coincidence, but given the insane relationship between Hollywood and DC, it at least bears contemplation how timely that movie was. Lincoln shows a political icon and martyr stooping to the most egregious manipulation and intimidating to get his law passed, all the while maintaining plausible deniability, and using mealy-mouthed, emotionally charged stories to defend his actions. This is the way its done, so we should applaud how the ACA was passed, not look too closely at the details, nor judge those involved in getting it passed.

 

Weekend Update

1. Still waiting for the Most Epic Rain Since, like, way back in 2005 to hit. All the radar images and projections sure look impressive, but, so far, have yielded less than a third of an inch of rain locally over the last 20 hours. They claim it is raining elsewhere, but why would anyone trust them?  If we don’t get at least 3 inches by Monday, I may have to write a rather sternly-worded letter to, ah, well, someone who can Do Something about this!

Something like this:

“Advan-ced” kills me every time.  (Also, this tune always brings to mind Chesterton’s quip: ‘Ten thousand women marched through the streets shouting, ‘We will not be dictated to,’ and went off and became stenographers.’)

Related image
A Norman doing it all wrong. 

2. Saw a tweet hoping to muster support for efforts to ban fracking in Sherwood Forest. Eyebrows shot upwards with bracing alacrity. Don’t we know the Forest is for the enjoyment of right-thinking Normans, who will punish with death any impoverished Saxons who dare try to use it for their ends?  Some things never change.

Image result for robin hood movie
Normans doing it right.

 

 

 

 

3. Christmas: the 12 days during which we are sore tempted to become yet more incarnate, in the sense of adding more carne, as it were.  A hazard I bravely endure is sharing a house with a gaggle of good to great cooks. We were having, for example, scones and fresh lemon curd, or waffles, maple syrup and whipped cream for breakfast, and  fresh baked pitas, fresh hummus & falafals and all the fixings, and fresh made pasta in a onion garlic cream sauce with fresh-baked bread for dinner. And that’s when we were eating at home – it was worse at family events, where we (by which I mean my wife and daughters) provide the desserts.

I’m sure many of you would bravely step in to relieve me of my fate, but my doom is my own. Sorry about that.

Then there’s fruitcake. I should mention that I do not share the general disdain for fruitcake, because I think of the fruitcake my mom used to make which, like everything she made, was outstanding. What passes for fruitcake in these degenerate times is a mockery!

Well, my beloved wife, bless her, has her own recipe for what is called a Christmas pudding, but one would be hard pressed to tell it from a fruitcake of the species my mom used to make. See below:

img_3588

Unfortunately, I messed up my attempts at pictures of the flaming part – yes, one warms up a little brandy, pours it over the top and sets it aflame – it burns a lovely blue. The smell of brandy is appropriate, as that topping you see is brandy butter whipped smooth.

The Calorific Vision.

Monday, I tell you, back on the wagon! Assuming I don’t explode first.

4. Kids heading back to school/work. Elder Daughter left last Sunday, packed off Middle Son today – put him on the train rather than make the 11 hour round trip on Interstate 5 because its supposed to be raining in an epic manner. Younger Daughter will be heading off to Rome (she chose Thomas More College largely to do the semester in Rome, it would seem) weekend after next. It’s sad to have all the kids home and them have them leave again, but it is sure good to see them.

After that, back to what passes for normal around here.

5. Still working on the Novel That Shall Not, For The Time Being, Be Named. Mostly background stuff and high-level descriptions. But still keeping it up. As Bullwinkle often said: This time, for sure!

 

 

 

Sensitive Habitat

1. Spent a few hours at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma yesterday, and stood for a moment contemplating:

sensitive-habitat
Within this sensitive habitat would occasionally land a large, not at all sensitive looking hawk, who would eye us with raptor-style disdain. He looked as if he were contemplating ripping my throat out. Hawks: Nature’s little mafia dons.

Was sore pressed by the urge to stand outside the Sensitive Habitat and issue subtle digs and insults at it, in a doomed but possibly amusing attempt to toughen it up a bit.

2. My thoughts were already inclined toward the contemplation of almost certainly pointless yet perhaps amusing activities by a curious first here at Yard Sale of the Mind: Some user at something called reddit linked to my last post as an example of Rage Culture. [correction: it’s evidently called Outrage Culture. It’s probably a thing. Not sure what the difference would be.]   The thoughts expressed in section 3, in case it’s not clear, are, in the opinion of the linker, the ravings of somebody in the grip of (presumably irrational) rage of a cultural nature. That I was in fact culturally enraged was averred by a number of marginally coherent and profanity laced comments, the writers of which were no doubt demonstrating how someone not at all enraged drops f-bombs and calls people names to model calm, open-minded and rational discussion.

Such gentle, brotherly rebukes were evidently called for to pour oil on the rage-enroiled waters of my soul, in order to save me from the egregious errors into which my obvious fury had flung me. For, in my cultural rage, I’d stated:

Another Orwellian euphemism in the service of modern education is ‘exposure’. The assumption is that if you don’t hand over your kids to the schools, they will somehow fail to be exposed to all the right stuff, and grow up with a narrow view of reality and thus be unable to realize their full potential. That if you let your young children pursue whatever interests them instead of micromanaging their every minute, they will grow up stunted. That if you don’t send them to school and act in loco schoolmasters and enforce all homework without question, you are a Bad Parent who has Ruined their own child.

But War is Peace. The actually effect of all the ‘exposure’ is that our kids are unlikely to ever hear a clear explication and vigorous defense of any position not held by their school masters. They are then trained to reject any other opinions out of hand – this is called ‘critical thinking’. The stunning willingness of people to embrace the most outrageous caricatures of those we disagree with increases with the level of education, so that a PhD pretty much immunizes the victim against ever entertaining an idea that they have not already accepted.

I must admit that I’d totally missed the rage evidently dripping from these observations. Within the context of this blog, I innocently thought them fairly pedestrian.  In fact, in my unenlightened state, I’d have thought the initial classification of my observations as the products of ‘rage culture’ and the subsequent 2-minute hate heaped upon them, kind of proved my point.

I suppose it’s flattering to think anyone would reference anything written on this humble blog as an example of anything, good or bad, except maybe as a cautionary tale of blogging itself. So, here’s a question for all 6 of my regular readers:  Do I go back to this reddit thing, find out how one joins or is allowed to comment, and then offer to my obvious moral and emotional, not to mention intellectual, superiors the opportunity to correct and inform me by directing me to the no doubt blindingly lucid and meticulously reasoned sources by which they, and millions like them, independently reached absolutely the same conclusions about just about everything that matters? I’m just certain they would welcome the opportunity to gently correct my errors! Or do I rather pour myself another cup of delicious Peet’s coffee (Holiday Blend), tuck into another piece of delicious leftover Christmas pie, and get back to working on the Novel That Shall Not Be Named? If that’s not too ragey…

3. 1st rough draft is up to 10 pages/3,100+ words. I’m like 2-3% done! All down hill from here! I’ve got the rough outlines of the main characters for Part 1 laid out, keeping in mind John C Wright’s advice to go ahead and use stereotypes, but use more than one per character, and don’t let them be boring. I’ve got the total hot-shot EV jock who is also a loving mom and wife; a genius engineer who is also a glory hound and elitist snob; a power hungry 2nd son whose manipulative mom is sending him off to the stars and so on.

I do have dozens of pages of references, links, snippets of stuff from the web that might bear on the science/tech.  But actual text, like the story itself? 3100 words, baby! At this rate, 1st draft in about 100 days. Wish me luck.

4. Finally, leaving the Shollenberger Park, saw another mildly baffling sign:

valuables

Oooo-kay. I’m imagining piles of valuables on the pavement next to the vehicle, but invisible! Or heaped up on a picnic table in such a way that no one can see them. Or – what? Do they mean ‘make sure nobody can see any valuables you leave in the car’? Because, that’s not what it says. In fact, that possibility is ruled out by the first imperative. I think the only thing we can be confident in is that, whatever we do with our valuables, we should not upset the sensitive habitat. Or the hawk may well rip our lungs out.

End of Advent Updates

1. Added to the growing pile of drafts – as always, the post I haven’t written is the best post I ever wrote – but, alas, caught my first full-on cold in years. Why is it when your nose gets stuffed up, so does your brain? Would like to finish a draft or two, but can’t because my thoughts are clouded and confused. More than usual, I mean.

2. Because of this cold, which settled in Saturday, I’ve only caught 2 Simbang Gabi 5:30 a.m. masses. Tomorrow and Saturday are the last 2 – let’s see if I can man up, and share good cheer and cold viruses with my fellow Christians. Or not…

3. Another Orwellian euphemism in the service of modern education is ‘exposure’. The assumption is that if you don’t hand over your kids to the schools, they will somehow fail to be exposed to all the right stuff, and grow up with a narrow view of reality and thus be unable to realize their full potential. That if you let your young children pursue whatever interests them instead of micromanaging their every minute, they will grow up stunted. That if you don’t send them to school and act in loco schoolmasters and enforce all homework without question, you are a Bad Parent who has Ruined their own child.

But War is Peace. The actually effect of all the ‘exposure’ is that our kids are unlikely to ever hear a clear explication and vigorous defense of any position not held by their school masters. They are then trained to reject any other opinions out of hand – this is called ‘critical thinking’. The stunning willingness of people to embrace the most outrageous caricatures of those we disagree with increases with the level of education, so that a PhD pretty much immunizes the victim against ever entertaining an idea that they have not already accepted.

This is the world in which business people, some of whom certainly do buy political influence in order to get richer, are a greater evil than communist dictators, who without exception abuse, rob and eventually murder their own subjects. The rich man’s greed may motivate him to steal, and may even motivate him to murder in order to steal; the communist dictator’s lust for power disguised as efforts to bring History to its inevitable conclusion, motivates him to murder anyone in his (History’s) way; murder in the 10s of millions in the cases of Mao and Stalin. The billions a very rich man(1) controls make him an irredeemable villain; the nation-state level wealth controlled by a communist dictator, on the other hand, has no effect on his actions whatsoever, which are conclusively presumed  to be sweetness and life itself, no matter how many are enslaved, impoverished or killed by them.

Such discussions are evidently unknown among the enlightened. Few well educated people have been exposed to them, and certainly not in the schools. At best, the well-educated are familiar with the accepted caricature, which exists only to aid summary dismissal of the ideas being caricatured.

4. Trying to work on world/tech/family background for the Novel Which Shall Not Be Named, but it’s hard when moments of clarity (such as they are) are like island in a cold-induced fog. Insofar as I can do it, it’s fun – knowing who these folks are, what they want, why they’re on the generational longship in the first place. So far, my muse, if I have one, has been quiet but not discouraging: the stuff I’m outlining fails to trigger the ‘lame’ response.

I’m counting that as a positive. That may be the virus talkin’.

I’m such a newbie. Spent some time worrying how I’d come up with all these complicated relationships in such a way as to make them work with the story arc, when I remembered: I know a boatload of family stories, both from history, literature and real life. Just use them! What a novel idea! (nyuk) Being careful, of course, with the real life stuff, which is far less realistic than fiction is allowed to be.

5. Got about a dozen books to review here and at Amazon. Got 11 days off coming up, with only maybe 60% of the time already spoken for. So – maybe! In short: L. Jagi Lamptighter’s In the Lamplight and Rachel Griffin stuff, John C. Wright’s Swan Knight’s Son series and Brian Niemeier’s Soul Dancer are all highly recommended. When Prophecy Fails – not so much. Interesting ideas poorly supported. And I need to be seated at a table, pencil in hand, head clear, to finish Uncertainty: the Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics. It’s very good so far. Vindication of Man and Secret Kings are next on the pile.

  1. Well, billions make *their* rich guys into evil incarnate, while *our* billionaires act solely out of pure civic altruism.

Updates & Trivia & Writing

A. Busy at work, which means I’m avoiding even more work than usual. Plus, somehow, I ended up with stuff to do every night this week except Friday.

Cuts into the blogging. Yea, yea, boo-freakin’-hoo.

B. Tonight, for an RCIA class, I got volunteered to do some Church history, which, to my naive mind, isn’t any different from plain old history everywhere the Church has ever been. As in, you can hardly talk of secular history in those places and times without the Church, nor can you talk about the Church without knowing what was going on in the larger world (if, indeed, the world can be said to be larger…).

This pitch is right in my wheelhouse, so I’m all rarin’ to go. I was assigned the period of 1200 through the Counter Reformation – woohoo! – and given a 15 minute slot. Well. As no one has ever accused me of being too terse, it might be a *slight* challenge to fit 400+ tumultuous and critical years of history that happens to include, among other things, discovery of an entire hemisphere, into 15 minutes. If I gave 3 minutes each to Gregory VII,(1) Francis, Dominic, Gothic architecture, Wittenberg and Trent, I’m already 3 minutes over, and haven’t touched on Charles Borromeo, the way the Counter Reformation influenced music (I could do an hour or more just on O Magnum Mysterium...), and about a dozen more topics that spring to mind before I’ve even researched it. We will be pruning with the ol’ intellectual chainsaw, here.

Since I’m already doing Feasts & Faith, I probably should hold off doing a Church History seminar-thing for another year. At that point, I’m thinking 10 1.5 hour lecture/discussions, which would barely scratch the surface. What I’d bring to the game: blending art, music and philosophy into the narrative.  There’s only like a library of books on this topic – my only excuse for doing this would be bringing in threads from many sources. There’s probably already a book or 50 that do just that….

C. One thing I wish I had time to discuss: the relationship of the Church & State, and how it differed in the East and West, and how the West’s division of Church and State helped bring about the artistic, cultural and technological revolution in Medieval Europe. I doubt there could have even been a Dante of the Eastern Churches – a man passionate about the complementary and divinely-given rights and duties of Church and State. Instead, the East retained more of the ancient Roman practice of religious careers being government careers – I should say, religious careers *of course* being government careers.

The fragmented feudalism of the West allowed for layers of duties and rights across several dimensions, such that a serf, even a serf’s wife, had a position where an emperor or pope owed her a certain inviolate respect. The battles of the Middle Ages seem to be over who owed whom exactly what level of fealty, with the Church presumed beyond discussion to be distinct and hold honor and duty apart from the king.

Not so much, in the East, where emperors from the earliest days saw it to be an obvious right and duty of theirs to meddle even in theology, let alone in who got to be patriarch. (2)

But, alas! No time for that in 15 minutes.

Related imageD. So, writing. Only able to throw an hour here and there at it for the time being, but it may be that’s just a well – I think I need to reach a critical mass of ideas, and I’m not *quite* there.

What’s happening: I started with a broad arc that ended in a life-or-death decision being made by a young girl in an intense situation. I’d outlined a lot of the social conditions that would lead up to this point, as well as the technology that would be required – it’s space stuff, trying to keep the science pretty hard. Now, details: I had to describe in detail where they were going, including describing and naming all the celestial objects (complete with backstories), describe how they get there, and – this is still skeletal – describe the culture(s) involved.

Then, I reached the point where I needed to name and describe all the people. Um, I’m guessing other writers do this first? Because it’s not a story unless people care about the girl making the decision and the people whose lives are in the balance. So, now, in this background – and the background still needs a lot of work – I’m outlining 3 or 4 (going with 4 for now) families who travel together with thousands of other explorers/colonists to the stars, marry into each other, feud – and produce this remarkable girl upon which the fate of many – including many of the members of these families – depends.

And that, my friends, is the actual story, not the tech and the alien worlds. It’s Sci Fi, as the story could not exist without the science, but these people now crowd my brain. These people, so far, only lurk in my head. Once they start to keep me up at night, I’ll have something.

One of the ancestors of the girl, a great-great grandmother, is introduced here. (BTW: much cleaned up that preface – thanks for all the feedback.)

All in all, fun, but not tending to produce any pages I might throw up here.

  1. Yes, St. Gregory VII is 11th century, but he had a big hand in starting the whole medieval dawn so beautifully described by Chesterton in Ch II of his biography of St. Francis. 
  2. Gregory VII was the last pope to ask and receive imperial permission to be pope, in the late 11th century; yet, over the centuries, many kings and emperors claimed veto power exercised through their cardinals. The last cardinal to veto the decision of the College of Cardinals in the name of his King was the Prince-Bishop of Krakow, who vetoed the leading papabile on orders from the Holy Roman Emperor – in 1903! The outraged Cardinals then voted in Pius X, who promptly and strenuously rejected any idea that kings could overrule the Cardinals. Only took 1900 years!