Thursday, December 29, 2016

Possible Futures – Firewood trees

As our understanding of genetics improves and we gain experience modifying or even creating genes, could it be possible to make trees that, instead of bearing apples or pears, produce blocks of firewood?  What I’m thinking is that the “fruit” would have a hardwood center with a softer outer layer with a rind that’s easy to light.  The reason for doing this, is the idea that over thirty or forty years – or however long the tree lives – you would get more “fruit wood” than you’d get by chopping down and cutting up the tree.  One tree wouldn’t heat a home for winter, but a grove of a hundred might. 

The biggest problem – other than figuring out the genetic engineering part – would be the ten pound blocks of wood falling from heights every autumn.  One way around this would be to make sure that the fruits blocks don’t fall.  Someone would have to go up a ladder and cut the stems, which would give some control over where they fell.  Or the tree could be designed so that only the lowest branches produce fruit, while all the higher ones would have leaves.  Or instead of a tree, you could have a bush.  Although I don’t know if a bush would be able to draw enough nutrients and all to make a big enough block of wood to make it worth it. 

Regardless of it all, I think it’s an interesting idea.


An earlier version of this post appeared on Persona Paper in December 2014.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Introducing Possible Futures

I primarily write science fiction.  Sometimes my stories are of starships warping off to meet aliens, but often my stories are set closer to home: maybe a few decades or a century from now.  I’m always thinking about how current technology will change in the next few decades.  This can lead to story ideas, or it can just be a fun way to pass the time.  So I have a bunch of random ideas of what we may have in the future.  Few of these can be the foundation of a story, although a few can fit in as part of “world building.”

Well, a couple of years ago I decided to write up some of these ideas on a website I wrote on.  Part of it was because I earned points for views which – if the site had lasted – I could have turned into actual money.  So you needed to have interesting articles that people would take an interest in reading.  But the main reason is that I feel we don’t spend enough time thinking of the future.  Regardless of how we feel about the matter, The Future is Coming. (That’s the title of my Kindle book of essays about science fiction elements that – I feel – will soon be science facts.)

I wrote a few articles on that site, then it died.  Some months went by and then I looked over these articles I had saved, and I wondered if I could get an ebook out of them.  What I figured I’d do was have short articles on these ideas, mixed in with short stories, and maybe just some random thoughts.  The title I came up with was “Possible Futures: short stories, essays, and random thoughts on life in the coming centuries.” So I had a title, I had the handful of posts I had written along with ideas for several more and … that folder just sat on my computer for months and I didn’t do anything with it. 

Because of life and other projects, my blogging pretty much fizzled out in 2016.  As the year is ending, I’ve been thinking of what I should be doing, and I figured since I already have a few articles, I could just revise them and post them here.  Hopefully, that will get me to finish more posts and maybe someday I will get around to publishing an ebook of possible futures.  I’m setting a goal of trying for at least one post a month, but we’ll see how that goes.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Thoughts about Rogue One

First off, I have not seen some early showing of Rogue One.  These are just my thoughts about the idea of the movie.  I do plan to see it, someday, but I’m really looking forward to its release because then I’ll stop seeing ads for it.

Back in the pre-prequel days when I still cared for Star Wars, if you had asked me my thoughts on the how someone stole the plans to the Death Star, my response would probably have been: “Someone stole the plans.” If you pressed me further, I’d probably have said that there was likely a novel about it, but it was probably on shaky – at best – canon ground.  If you pressed even further and asked what I thought likely happened, I’m not sure what I would have come up with.  Now that I’m older with more writing experience, this is what I would have come up with for the story behind stealing the Death Star plans.

The Empire would not be above using slave labor.  So there would be a band of humans and aliens, some are criminals while others are there for whatever trumped up charges the Empire came up with to get rid of certain elements of society.  Only a few would be full blown rebels.  There would be occasional acts of sabotage, but these would be dealt with by mass executions.  During these, Darth Vader might be seen in the distance, but he’d probably not have much interaction with the prisoners being the boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. 

What would happen is a small group would be working on escaping with the plans.  For added emotion, there would probably be a group that stayed behind to cause some sort of distraction, knowing that the result would be their executions. 

That would be my idea, so you can imagine me sighing when the first trailers for Rogue One came out and I realized that instead of something akin to The Great Escape set in the Star Wars Universe we’re getting a generic action movie set in the Star Wars Universe.  Don’t get me wrong, explosions, gun fights, and action can be great, it’s just not every movie has to have them.  It’s like my biggest issue with The Force Awakens is that – if they were going to shove another Star Wars movie down my throat – I wanted something new, but instead I got a rehashing of previous plot elements.  In theory, these side Star Wars movies are a chance to do something different.

Perhaps the trailers are misleading and Rogue One is a fantastic movie that I will love more than The Force Awakens.  But if I were to put money on it now, I’d say that Rogue One is just a way to make millions of dollars.  That’s it.  Probably an okay story, but really it’s just a way to make money.