This week’s TMQ, after the jump…
Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
The City of Austin has flushed the low-flow toilet rebate program. However, you can still get a free low-flow toilet: you just have to fill out an application and, if you’re approved, pick up your toilet from an approved toilet vendor.
The 2010 Bulwer-Lytton contest results are out.
Edited to add 2: Derek Lowe has a new post up in the “How Not To Do It” series. It appears that a lab at the University of Missouri underwent explosive renovations after some hydrogen and oxygen got together for a hot date. Photos of the aftermath at the link.
Edited to add 3: The HouChron has interrupted their “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” watch to let us know that Dr. Demento is ending his radio show. Why, yes, this is the same story that Slashdot and Lawrence brought you almost a month ago.
Edited to add 4: As I’ve noted in the past, my newspaper reading during the weekends can be spotty. So I missed this Ben Wear article in the Statesman about the MetroRail ridership figures. (Hattip: Blue Dot Blues, by way of Battleswarm.)
Edited to add 5: Headline from the HouChron: “Dear Abby says what to do when grandma spoils the kids”. Somehow, I suspect Dear Abby’s answer does not involve a Taser.
A weird confluence of things over the weekend left me with an idea for a SF novel (or possibly a trilogy). Since:
- Ideas are a dime a dozen. What you do with them is what counts.
- I don’t have the tools to write this novel right now.
I’m throwing this out for anyone who wants to make use of it.
The basic idea is similar to John Varley’s “Eight Worlds” stories: the aliens come and start throwing humans off the Earth. Only the aliens don’t stop there; they continue to drive humanity past the outer planets. Much of the action of the book would be the battle between humans and the aliens. I’d probably want to assume a radically extended human lifespan, or transfer of consciousness between cloned bodies (also like Varley) so that I could tell the story over several hundred years, using the same viewpoint character. (Thing one that fed into this: picking up a copy of The John Varley Reader at Half-Price Books.)
One thing this character would notice is that the aliens are using unusual weaponry; the character would attribute this to alien psychology, and wouldn’t think too deeply about this until the end of the story. Assume the character is smarter than the average bear, but also pissed off about events, and thus somewhat blinded by their anger.
The punchline at the end of the story, once our viewpoint character is able to communicate with the aliens, is that they aren’t trying to wipe out the human race. The aliens are actually trying to save the human race from a galactic disaster, along the lines of this post over at TJIC’s blog. What they’ve been trying to do all along is the equivalent of herding cats into a safe zone. And this particular race of aliens has, for want of a better word, a “charter” to do this kind of thing; intelligence in the Universe is so rare that these aliens travel around, looking for endangered intelligent civilizations, and then try to save them.
One of the limitations these aliens face is that they can’t communicate well with the lesser evolved intelligent civilizations they’re trying to save. What they see as equivalent to a lifeguard trying to save a drowning man, those civilizations see as an attack, and they tend to respond with force. Saving intelligent civilizations is so important to this race that they’re willing to sacrifice their own members to do so.
Playing into that theme is the alien weaponry; it turns out that the aliens have attempted to design weapons that are “non-lethal” to humans. The problem is, because of circumstances and their limited understanding of human biology, those “non-lethal” weapons aren’t always non-lethal. Humanity isn’t their first go-around at the rodeo; our protagonist finds out they’ve done this a couple of times before with other races, and their first attempt resulted in the total extermination of the race they were attempting to save.
So, yeah, after writing all this down, you’ve got a novel in which the entire plot hinges on a giant misunderstanding between humans and aliens. Still, I think someone with more talent than I have could do something with this; I like this idea better than I do aliens driving humanity off earth to save the dolphins.
(It wasn’t a major contributing factor to this idea, but this thread over at Popehat did make me decide to actually throw the idea out there.)