Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus sale!

So you’ve been stuck at home for a week or so and you’ve burned through all your Kindle ebooks.  What do you do?  Why, you download more, of course.  To help you out, from Monday March 23 through Friday March 27, the following six of my ebooks will be free to download.  That’s over one hundred short stories for the price of a few clicks. 

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet is a collection of forty stories covering various genres and themes ranging from six to over 4,200 words in length. Some I began writing well over a decade ago, while others were written especially for this collection. All together, they are a buffet of my writing. As such, I encourage you to read as much as you want. Go back for seconds, thirds, fourths even. I won’t mind if you skip over the stuff you don’t like, but, to quote your mother, “How do you know you don’t like it? Have you tried it?”

“Brain for Rent and other stories” is a collection of five of my short scifi stories to give a sampling of my writing. The collection includes: “Brain for Rent” about a ne’re-do-well failed writer with a conceptual implant who discusses his work with a young woman thinking of getting an implant herself. “The Demonstration” is about a different young woman wanting to show off her latest body modification. “Self Imprisonment” offers one solution of safe keeping the backup copy of yourself. “The Best Job Ever” is about a necessary – yet unpleasant – human/alien interaction. And the collection ends with “Why Stay?” which explains why, after years of fighting the humans, the robots just deactivate.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. “A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories” contains five of my short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.

Like most people, Jason Fisher wanted to make the world a better place, but he doubted he would ever have the chance to make much of a mark. Then a “woman” came to him, asking his help to save humanity by threatening it.

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Register to vote/Check your voter status

It seems every four years the political talking heads come out and say that “This election is the most important election of the modern era.” And you know what, for 2020, they might actually be right.  Because whether you think everything is hunky-dory, or you think the best description of the country is a dumpster fire, there will be major repercussions whoever wins this November.

Now you could just sit back and say, “Why bother voting when the system is broken?” Well, one aspect of why the system is broken is because too many people don’t bother being a part of it.  The only way to have a government that reflects the country is if the majority of the people participated in choosing that government.  Our government is not perfect – it’s very, very far from perfect – but not voting is you saying you’ll just take whatever happens.  And if you don’t like what you’re given, well, you can’t complain because you had the chance to make your voice heard and chose not to.

The way to make your voice heard is to register to vote.  How to register should be laid out on your state’s website.  But even if you’ve already registered, you should take the time to check your registration status, which I think is an option on most state websites.  (You may also wish to double check on your polling place.)  An important reason to do this now, is that there are several reasons why your status could be wrong: you moved and forgot to update it, a clerical error, or maybe you were caught up in an overly enthusiastic purge.  Whatever the reason, if you check now and find a problem you can get it all worked out before Election Day.  Election Day is hectic enough without people waiting in line only to find out there’s an issue.

So register to vote, or check your status, so everything will be in order come November 3rd and you can make sure your voice will be heard, in this, the most important election of the modern era.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Uploading a cat

Something that pops up in science fiction a lot is people uploading their consciousness to a computer.  Currently there seems to be an overly optimistic camp who think we’ll be able to do this in the next five years, and an overly pessimistic camp who think our brains are too complex to ever run on a computer.  I believe that we may have a 5% chance to pull it off in the next century, but in the long run it will be a near certainty.  In fact, I think the only thing that would actually stop us from eventually uploading our consciousnesses would be our extinction. 

But the point of this blog is that this won’t be something we figure out overnight.  There will be intermediate steps, such as uploading the consciousness of a lower animal, like a cat or dog.  Would there be a benefit to doing such a thing?  Yeah.  If you can upload a cat, you could also build some sort of interface.  Now, if you ask your living cat “Why do you have to be in my way?” you may get an odd look and a “Mrow.” But with an interface, you could get an answer from your virtual cat.  It wouldn’t be “Because I, Grithnar the Magnificent take pleasure from your discomfort,” but something more akin to a series of computer code of the “If this situation, take this action” type.  We can get a feel for some of these codes from observation of the living cat, but an interface could give us an actual view of the evolutionary programming code at the core of behavior. 

And once we know such animals work, there’s a chance we could change them.  We could run simulations to see what training methods would actually work.  Initially, the uploading process might be destructive, meaning we could only apply it to other animals.  But as the technique improved, it’s likely your cat or dog would survive and you could take what you learned from the uploaded version and apply it to the living version. 

But if we can upload from a dog to a computer, it’s possible we could download from the computer into the dog.  Give it a sort of obedience patch.  Imagine getting a puppy and housebreaking it with a few keystrokes.  And in a few years you could get the patch to make it a “quivering, snarling, white-hot ball of canine terror” at the snap of a finger.

Which makes you wonder, what will they do once we can upload humans?