Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Checkpoint #1 - 2017

Here we are, two months into the year, and now I must do a planned check-in.

I'll start off by saying I have a bit of a conundrum. I'm simultaneously trying to drum up business for my music publishing business, which takes up some time and also a little bit of money. This could get in the way of my goal to publish my space-opera novel. If I don't have enough time and money for the task, I may be better off working on my other novels and get them closer to publication.

Though it would be nice to have that one book out there for you guys to read!  We'll see how the money flows in the next couple of months -- that will help decide which way to turn for the rest of the year.

I did successfully finish and send in my short story "The Last Actuary" into the Actuarial Speculative Fiction Contest. Usually, I do a read and report on all the competitors' stories, but this year I've been too busy to do it. That's sad for me! I may read the stories anyway and not report.

If interested, you can check out my story and all the other contenders here. Also, feel free to vote for your favorite story.

Other than that, I haven't submitted any stories to magazines yet this year. What I should do is have a four-week streak of sending a story out each week to help catch up on my goal. It doesn't take money to send, so no excuses!

Though, I have increased the number of blog entries between this and my other four blogs. I'm trying to increase my internet presence.

How are you doing on your writing goals?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hidden Figures: A Hidden Delight

The first I had heard of Katherine Johnson was a couple of months ago when I caught an episode of Timeless, in which time travelers go back and try to save the first moon walk. It blew me away that a black woman played such a key role in the space race.

Then when I saw a trailer to Hidden Figures, I said, "There were three of them?!" It turns out there were even more than that. So, I had to go check it out. I went with my wife on a double date for Valentine's Day, and it was more than worth it. Now I'm wondering why this movie wasn't played up as much as it should be.

This movie tells the true story of three women: Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, who each rise up above prejudices and become leading figures in their field. While watching them succeed, we also get to remember why Jim Crow laws were so bad.

The script is well written. The music is great. The story is paced well. It even has a little romance, a little math, and a little science. It's a story of unsung heroes that needs to be heard.

Be warned, though. As usual in movies like this, some liberties were taken. The math and science is significantly simplified to be enjoyable to a wider audience. The stories of Dorothy and Mary actually happened in the 40's and 50's, but were made to be concurrent with Katherine's story in the early 60s. Also, segregation was done away with at NASA as early as 1958, though all three characters had dealt with it to some degree at some points of their careers.

If you're a stickler for history, first go see the movie, and then go read the book by the same name to straighten out the details. Either way, it's an amazing set of stories, as it's always good to hear when people persist amongst incredible odds.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie: Holy Snap!

The LEGO Batman Movie was awesome. Wait ... can we use that word? Hmmm, not sure if anyone used it in the movie. Anyway, this movie was a hundred laughs per hour. It pokes fun at most every incarnation of Batman and features some cool new songs.

I'm not going to give much away. It has Batman, Robin, the Joker, Alfred, and other favorites. Of course, it's all mixed together with crazy child-like humor, and features thousands of LEGO bricks.


For a dark movie, I was amazed at how represented all colors of the rainbow were. We didn't see it in 3-D, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Though, if you like 3-D movies, this looks like one to catch in that format. Evidently IMAX - 3D isn't available in the states, but that's okay.

No matter how you see it, it's fun for the whole family.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Death's End: All Good Things

Death's End is the last book in the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, bringing the Chinese masterpiece of Lui Cixin to a close. Just like the first two books (#1 and #2), this conclusion continues the epic story of Earth and the Trisolarians. And just when I thought there couldn't be much more to the story, Cixin pleasantly surprises.

The book follows Cheng Xin, a female scientist who visits different epochs of time thanks to the wonders of cryogenic hibernation.

And let me tell you, the imagery is so amazing and large, that I often felt small and depressed just from reading it. Cixin successfully captures the vast and ruthless nature of the universe, simultaneously instilling despair and hope at different times throughout the book, and he does so with his usual Chinese "legend" feel, all the way to the final sentence.

Cixin sticks with hard science, but takes it to limits I've never seen before, pushing the boundaries of the imagination, and presenting interesting conjectures. Though I enjoyed it, I know some physicists who would hate the science, as it relies heavily on String theory. Yet all physicists should enjoy most of the other science Cixin gets right.

The book series does have some minor plot holes and what I like to call science holes (things that could happen, but we already know it's not true), but I'll save that for a separate spoiler-filled post to come shortly. There's enough in this series to amaze and overcome these holes.

So, grab you a copy of each of these books, and prepare to be scienced away.