Archive for Rambling

25 Days of TNG, Day 4: Meet the New Ship, Not the Same as the Old Ship, Part 1

One thing that we as Star Trek fans had to deal with was the idea that there was going to be an entirely new Enterprise on our screens. While the pause between the original series and the first film allowed the production designers and model-makers to put together an upgraded version of the Enterprise, after all this time — almost 100 years since TOS was supposed to occur — we were expecting something different.

Well, we got it.

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25 Days of TNG, Day 2: Episode Review — “Encounter at Farpoint”

I find it hard to even remember how I felt, 25 years ago, sitting in the living room with my parents and waiting for Star Trek: The Next Generation to premiere. I’d seen some clips from the first episode courtesy of our VHS copy of The Voyage Home, but that was all I knew.

The day finally came. We tuned in WCIX. We waited for the news-at-eleven tease. And then…

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her continuing mission: to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Stretch. Snap. Zoom. Flash. And an era began.

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25 Days of TNG, Day 1: An Introduction

I was exposed to Star Trek a lot as a child. It was something my father was into, and being a kid, I wanted to like the same cool stuff as my dad. So I got into wrestling, and The A-Team, and Knight Rider, and this old TV show that seemed to be on Channel 6 a lot called Star Trek. In it, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock traveled the galaxy, learning about stuff and getting into fights in their giant spaceship. It was cool, and even if it made me a bit of an outcast at school, so what? I still liked it.

And then, in 1987, my dad came home with the VHS tape of Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home, which we’d seen in theaters the previous fall. Attached to the beginning was a trailer for a new version of the show called Star Trek: the Next Generation.

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Product Placement: the Next Generation

A few days ago, I came across this article on BoingBoing about author Holly Lisle and the issues she was having with getting iBooks to carry one of her how-to books because in it she mentions Amazon — which is one of the biggest revenue sources for self-published writers.

I think Ms Lisle’s story opens up a much bigger can of worms, and it starts with this: in the novel I’m writing, the main character uses a Kindle. What happens if I want to get my book in the iBookstore? Do I have to have her use an iPad instead? And, more importantly, how will that change the character?

I’m not thinking that Apple’s going to reject my book out-of-hand just for that reason, but it’s certainly conceivable, right? I mean, I might get a little leeway because, in Chapter Four, she does throw the Kindle against the wall in frustration*, but still — it could happen.

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Obsessed With Doing Something Else. ANYTHING Else.

Last Sunday, I took advantage of the fact that it was Father’s Day and (in the words of my daughter) “you should do whatever you want” to play about seven hours of Civilization V. I got the game a few weeks ago in one of those software bundles* never having played Civilization in any form. In fact, all I knew about it was that Brentalfloss made a song about it which includes these catchy lyrics:

So keep playing Civilization, take good care of your little nation
Start a war with ancient Egyptians, spread your equally valid religion
Win with science, culture, or napalm
Watch out, Gandhi might drop the A-bomb

This isn’t actually an article about Civ V, by the way. It’s an article about how some writers (like me) get obsessed with a thing to the exclusion of what we should be doing.

Perhaps you can relate.

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How Bad Technobabble Hurt A Good Episode: “Our Man Bashir”

For the past few months, I’ve been doing a re-watch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I missed a lot of episodes (maybe 40 percent) while it was in first-run, and I’ve never seen it in syndication, so I figured… why not? It’s on Netflix; might as well make good use of my $7.99 monthly fee.

Last night, I watched “Our Man Bashir”, and I was reminded just how flimsy the “malfunctioning transporter/holodeck” plot can be.

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The Speed of Sci-Fi, Revisited

In 2007, I wrote a book. In 2010, I finished editing it*. Either this year or next, it’s going to be published**.

This is not a post about book contracts.

It’s a post about technology.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about how fast data storage technology is expanding. My example was my USB drive, which holds eight hundred times as much data in something the size of my finger than my very first hard drive, which was about the size of half a frozen dinner.

This morning, I was catching up on my news feeds and I found another technological change that struck me.

You may already know that BlackBerry — once the bastion of corporate offices and enterprise e-mail systems everywhere — has recently been on the ropes. Their tablet wasn’t perfect when it came out, and you have to be perfect to compete with the iPad. Their first touch-screen phone wasn’t so great either. They don’t have an app store with even close to the number of offerings that Android and Apple do. And — let’s be honest here — BlackBerry devices just aren’t cool.

This is very close to the BlackBerry I used to have, except mine had more soft-keys.
That’s now. In 2012. But in 2006, I got my first (and only) BlackBerry, and it was awesome. It was the precursor to the Pearl, the first one with a narrow keyboard, and I thought it was the best phone I’d ever have. I could text, e-mail, surf the web (in a limited fashion), read stories online, play games, use personalized ringtones and message sounds, and, well, if I wasn’t able to take pictures, that wasn’t a big deal, because I had a camera already, right?

In early 2007, I started writing a novel (as I mentioned a few paragraphs ago). Because my main character was kind of a tech-geek, I made sure she carried a BlackBerry and knew how to use it. I don’t know which one it was, but I’m sure it was a good one. It may even have been the one I had. The point is, by the time I finished the book in the summer of 2007, BlackBerry was still the standard by which I judged phones. Anyone who was anyone had a BlackBerry.

Of course, the iPhone happened shortly after that, and that was most definitely a game-changer.

Between the end of the writing period for the book and the time it’ll be released to the public, I’ll have gone through five cellphones. Five cellphones in five years.

  • My aforementioned BlackBerry.
  • The HTC Tilt/TyTn II, a monster phone that I would’ve kept if it hadn’t started crashing on me all the time.
  • An iPhone 3G.
  • A short-lived Samsung BlackJack — a capable enough device, intended to be a BlackBerry replacement, it was given to me at my old job. I didn’t think I needed it, since I already had an iPhone, but they wouldn’t pay for it so I had to carry two phones.
  • My HTC Evo, which I wrote about a year or so ago.

I’m writing another book right now, and my main character has a touchscreen device — either an iPhone or an Android; I’m not sure which. The point is, I’m being a little more vague because (a) I don’t know when I’m going to finish writing this book and (b) I don’t know when it’s going to be sold once I do. I like to be as accurate as possible when I write, which is why Sarah (in the 2007 book) had a BlackBerry, and which is also why Andrea (in the current book) rides very specific bus routes to get around town. I believe little details make a story better — not too many of them, but enough to let the reader know that the author really put some thought into every aspect of the story. Get the small details right, and people in general will believe you if you fudge the big ones***.

But I’m still amazed that, only five years after finishing the book, the device that I gave my main character because it was so freaking cool is now so out-of-date that literally only one person on my entire floor here at work actually has one.

Technology is moving faster than ever. We writers have to keep up with it.



* I know, I know. It took me way too long.

** The contract is in my e-mail box. I’m reviewing it with my attorney, just to make sure it’s 100 percent aboveboard.

*** Story of my life.

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