Archive for the ‘SF’ Category

Obit watch: January 14, 2013.

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Steven Utley, Texas SF writer.

Tributes from Lawrence here and here. Tribute from Rick Klaw here.

Speaking of Armadillocon…

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Here’s a little linky love for Lawrence’s series of photos from the convention:

Part 1.

Part 2.

A man’s got to know his limitiations.

Monday, April 26th, 2010

A weird confluence of things over the weekend left me with an idea for a SF novel (or possibly a trilogy). Since:

  1. Ideas are a dime a dozen. What you do with them is what counts.
  2. 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.)