Saturday, 29 December 2012

Coming Soon.

It just suddenly struck me that I haven't advertised my own book in my blog yet. I put up a page; but really; if you're writing your first novel; you want to shout it from the rooftops.

 #Insert Shameless Self Promotion Here#

http://www.mattstephens.me/p/the-lostkind.html


For me; the very best fiction in the world is the kind where you can put the book down and say to yourself: "Now. Can I prove that it isn't a true story?"

The first example of this that I came across was a movie called "Millennium." It's based on a book of the same name, written by a man named John Varley.

Now my book is nothing like the movie; but what I set out to achieve was the same thing. A premise that fits into our real life seamlessly; and yet is so fantastic as to be unbelievable.

For more information about the book; go to the Book Page on my blog; and for up to date information about the release date; and places to buy your own copy; you can follow the book on Google Plus at it's own page here.

If you're not on Google Plus, my apologies; but I promise the book page here will include all the relevant information.

Many Worlds


So. What did I do today?

Okay. So far today; I went up top the bank to collect some rent money; picked up two kinds of olives because the third kind was wrong; made lunch; and realized I hadn't had breakfast, because I was plotting out this story idea I had when I woke up.

On the walk to the store, I considered the sun and all it's nasty properties, given it's a pretty hot day. For a while, I wondered about the mathematics of how less than a thousandth of a percent of the sun's energy reached earth, but that was enough to power all the weather; including the hurricanes; plus fry a few people with sunstroke; plus make every single living thing grow.

This led to an idea which would allow for all the sun's power to be harvested; but that went belly up when I realized the story in my head was a lot like a Star Trek episode I had seen; so obviously I couldn't get to work on that one.

I listened to two podcasts on the way there and back; one with a sassy 1930's girl detective solving a murder; and an dramatized version of the Foundation Series by Asimov, where a group of thinkers use knickknacks and tinker toys to conquer the universe.

 Finally got a contents page to work in my book; and finished writing a bridge between the first and second halves of my second novel-in-progress.

I rewatched a few episodes of +H+ The Digital Series, seeking some proof in a theory I have about the twisty-turny plot lines of this particular web-series. I discovered my theory was wrong, but I got inspired by the what-ifs, so I did a little research on the transhuman movement; and I see several potential storylines... but I'm looking for one that hasn't been done already and a quick search on Amazon says the first things that come to mind have been done almost to death.

There was a kid in the produce section looking over a grapefruit with disturbing intensity; and a woman who bought a chocolate bar, paying for it in very small change; stacked twelve coins deep. So now my next story idea has two interesting characters.

What did I do today?

... not so much, really.

Half the world is made up of people sitting in the corner, scribbling into a notebook; or a kid playing let's-pretend, or a gamer on a laptop; taking on armies in four different directions as only a brilliant tactical mind can. These things happen every second; and are ignored or unobserved.

Seriously; look around. If you're reading this on a laptop; or a tablet or a smartphone; I bet you're in a public place. How many people are gazing into the distance with a thousand-yard stare? The creative people are all around you.

Who would think to look at us that we have universes unfolding in our heads?


photo credit: Î’ethan via photopin cc

Friday, 21 December 2012

Happy Dalek Day!

Happy Doomsday everyone!

The 21st of December is of course slated as the end of the world. Being in Australia; the 21st is almost over; so I can say that the sun rose; and the sun has (Almost) set as it always did.

Those of us who understand; those of us who know, are aware what this means. For those who follow the exploits of The Man With The Blue Box; this Marked Day of Destruction has a special meaning, and warning.

21st December! The Daleks first made their appearance on screen on the 21st December 1963.

Hence the date has been declared International Dalek Remembrance Day!

The sceptics and the naysayers will scoff at this; the way they did the certainty of solar flares; massive quakes, and spontaneous combustion of the earth. But those of us who know; do not take the Dalek lightly. No army of Man or Alien can undo the machinations of the Exterminators; for they are a plague of Anti-Life that has swept across the vast expanses of the universe.

There is no science of man that can predict them; no NASA expert that would be able to warn of it; nor any army on earth that could hold them back.

There is however a man. A remarkable man that has stood alone against the Great Space Dustbin's; fighting them back across billions of light-years, and aeons of time. He has promised that protection for the earth; and the Fury of The Time Lord sweeps away any who try to move against his favourite place.

The sceptics will say that when this day came and went; there was no massive event; because the Mayan prophecy was a myth.

But of course; The Children of Time know the truth.

The Doctor always speaks the truth to his Companions, and he is not one to mince words about the end of the world. At the discovery of yet another scheme to tear down the human race; The Doctor would give warning, just in case. And so the now Infamous Calender was drawn and carved... and after six thousand years history became story; then story became legend, and then legend became myth...

But hidden in the walls of the Ancient Halls; where the soothsayers looked across the Ether and saw the truths hidden from the cold unnatural tools of modern science; there is, hidden by obscurity, the proof of what truly happened; and what inspired that ancient warning of doom for all mankind.

On International Dalek Remembrance Day; the monsters no doubt turned their inhuman glowing eyes toward our Pale Blue Dot; as have so invaders many before them. For two Combatants that can step between millennia as easy as both our Invaders, and our Defenders can do... what is that amount of time?

But the sun rose; and the sun set; and those of us who know the truth, also know why the world kept spinning, as it has for so many days before. 

This is not a lone voice of madness; for there are many more of us who stand and speak with open gratitude to a man who has done so much; lost so much; and fought so hard against Nightmares, with nary a word of gratitude in return. To all those who know the story of The Doctor ("Doctor?" I hear you ask. "+Doctor Who ?") this is a special day; when the Human Race escapes the Wrath of the Daleks, once again.

And so I close with the immortal words of Jackson Lake, a man who knows the particulars of being a Time Lord better than any of us:

“Ladies and gentleman, I know that man! That Doctor on high! And I know that he has done this deed a thousand times. But not once, no, sir, not once, not ever, has he ever been thanked. But no more, for I say to you on this Christmas Morn, bravo, sir!”

#EndOfTheWorld

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ingress


This is simplicity itself.

http://www.ingress.com/

An android game that is basically a computerized scavenger hunt. You go out and find information about various place/businesses/attraction and upload it to the game.

Though they haven't declared it as an intention of the game, Google has taken advantage of this information mine; as a crowd-sourcing tool. The scavenger hunt says to find out the opening time of a store or company; and the players involved seek this information out.

The reaction to this is mixed; some saying it's an invasion of privacy, or that it's lazy, getting people to get information that Google wants.

This is, in my humble opinion, simplicity itself. It gives the consumer a way to make information gathering fun and interesting; and gets the supplier all the information they need on any area. I've long been fascinated by the Alternate Reality Game; to take a normal place and make it exciting; like a secret world that others do not see.

The downside is that I live in a town that doesn't have such things set up. It takes a lot of work to organize something like that. Making it a downloadable app is the best of all possible worlds for my own self.

This is the best way to get things done: To make them fun to do. This is Elegant, intelligent, and hopefully as addictive as a game can be.

I'm in Australia, and Ingress isn't available in my country yet; as it is in Beta. I eagerly look forward to the day that it is. Google has reported that making it available in Australia/New Zealand is on the cards.

For more information:
http://www.techgoondu.com/2012/11/22/what-googles-new-augmented-reality-game-ingress-is-really-about/
http://www.rediguana.co.nz/gav/2012/12/02/what-are-the-ulterior-motives-of-ingress/
#Ingress

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Zen; and The Questions That Don't Need Answers

There are questions that are meant to pose deep philosophical thoughts; to put one in a Zen frame of mind.

I don't see it.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Open and close your hand quickly, so that your fingers smack into your palm. The Simpsons answered this one years ago. One hand clapping is the same sound as two; just quieter.

If a tree falls in the forest; but nobody's around to hear it; does it make noise?

No. When you hear something; the air carried the vibrations to the bones of your inner ear. The vibrations hit these small bones and are processed by your brain as noise. Different vibrations in the air make different noises. This is why there is no sound in space. If a tree falls in the forest and nothing records the vibrations; or there is nobody around to hear it; there is still that vibration; but with no ears to pick up the vibration and brain to process; there is no sound.

Why is the sky blue?

Earth's atmosphere scatters light from the sun. Depending on the composition of the atmosphere; the length and angle of the light; the atmosphere diffuses it at a certain wavelength; which our eyes interpret as blue. This is why you get different colors at sunrise/sunset.

How long is a piece of string?

Twice the distance from the center to either end. This is true of a string of any length.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Heading For The Future

I may just be the only person left in the western hemisphere that does not have a cell phone; but I've seen people check the time by pulling out their phones; taking photos with their phones, checking the map by using their phones...

We've brought back the fob watch, and added a street directory, a camera, a zeitgeist, a portable office, an arcade... I understand you can make phone calls with it too.

You know you've got the life altering bit of technology when you see it everywhere. These things have dangers, these things have untapped potential. The little matter of who will explore that potential is a billion dollar question waiting for an answer.

While we wait for that answer, the way we held our breath during the Blu-Ray vs HD Wars, the competitors roll out their view on the future.

Take a look at the difference:

Google Glasses/Nexus:

Project Glass: One day...
Nexus 7: Curious

Microsoft's Vision of the Future:

Microsoft Future Vision Montage 2019 Office Labs
Productivity Future Vision (2011)

Apple Introducing iCloud/Siri:

Apple - Introducing iCloud
Apple - iPhone 4S - TV Ad - Siri, Snow Today

This is the same view on what the future brings; with technology being a simple, seamless part of our universe; but with very different philosophies.

If I had to make a decision about either company, based on these two commercials each and little else, I would say that Microsoft's view is that technology replaces most things with their products; and Google's aim is to slip technology into the life we have now.

Take a look. Microsoft's vision of the future is clean to the point of being sterile; I see nobody over the age of forty. The building interiors, are all white and shades of grey...

Then look at the Nexus/Glasses commercials. These things are set in the world we have now. People walking down the street, using their link; families making use of the book readers or the video conferences to keep in touch with family, play games while camping, take candid shots of the baby...

Finally the Apple commercials. Same idea as Google, but every question asked is asked of the tech; even by the kid. The apple commercials have each user on their own; talking to people via their phones, or getting information from Siri. Where are all the other people, while you're talking to your phone?

There's a fundamental difference between the three.

Microsoft: This is the world according to us; hope you enjoy it.
Google: This is the world according to you; hope to be part of it.
Apple: This is the world according to you; and we plan to be a big part of it.

Ten years ago; nobody had a smart phone or a tablet; and nobody even realized they were missing something; and today you don't dare go as far as the mailbox without your phone. It was an evolution we never knew we never wanted.

So, there's plenty of future left in these platforms. Where are we going?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Indie Authors

Hello everyone!

Sorry it's been so long to get back to this blog, but in my time away from here, I've been hard at work.

The first draft of my first original story is now complete, currently standing at 141,036 words, or 322 pages; the story itself is finished.

It's been an exciting ride, and it's not over yet; as there's still plenty of polish to go; but don't despair, I haven't forgotten you; my faithful readers. (All three of you, lol)

As I crafted this universe, I knew that taking it to a publisher is out of the question. With each passing week we get more stories about the collapse and closure of Bookstores, even bookstore chains across the world.

This is bad for the publishers, and bad for the printers, but it's good for the readers, who have clearly spoken their minds; switching to ebooks in their millions; getting their book cheaper and faster than ever before.

If it's good for the readers, it's fantastic for the authors.

Finding good Indie Writing online is about as hard as finding Indie Music. The great stuff is out there, but you have to sift through the rest to find it; and most people just don't have the will to keep going.

There are a steady stream of forum posts, websites, directories and reviews out there to help you find good Indie Writing.

As a huge supporter (Soon to be participant) in the field, I started one myself.

For those who are interested in the field, or better yet, writing stories of your own; I also have a G+ page, with useful articles on writing and self-publishing.