A science fiction story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content.
Etiquette tip: It's okay, more or less, to ask an author to sign your arm, but not good manners to then nip around to the tattoo parlor next door and return half an hour later to show them the inflamed result.
Actually, however, science fiction has but one overriding aim--an aim never diverted by its occasional sociological, technological, or philosophical implications in the realm of reality--and that is to entertain.
Ah, Christmas in Bethlehem. Manger Square is ablaze with colorful lights. The weather is usually a bit chilly. Aggressive merchants bombard passersby with “special sales” on all kinds of cedar wood statues and religious carvings.
And like clockwork, the mainstream media descend upon this city every year to ignore rampant Muslim intimidation of Christians and instead blast Israel - often with completely inaccurate information - for ruining Christmas and for the drastic decline of Christianity in one of the holiest cities for that religion.
Through it all, Rowling didn't really fight back. Talk too much about her faith, she feared, and it would become clear who would live and who would die and who might actually do both. After six books with no mention of God or Scripture, in the last book Harry discovers on his parents' graves a Bible verse that, Rowling says, is the theme for the entire series. It's a passage from I Corinthians in which Paul discusses Jesus' Resurrection: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
The secret of becoming a writer is that you have to write. You have to write a lot. You also have to finish what you write, even though no one wants it yet. If you don't learn to finish your work, no one will ever want to see it. The biggest mistake new writers make is carrying around copies of unfinished work to inflict on their friends.
I am sure it has been done with less, but you should be prepared to write and throw away a million words of finished material. By finished, I mean completed, done, ready to submit, and written as well as you know how at the time you wrote it. You may be ashamed of it later, but that's another story.
What do you mean by faith? Is faith enough for Man? Should he be satisfied with faith alone? Is there no way of finding out the truth? Is the attitude of faith, of believing in something for which there can be no more than philosophic proof, the true mark of a Christian?
I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that's my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again ... the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.
I worked on a kibbutz in Israel for a couple of summers while I was in college. On Saturdays, the Israelis would drive me and the other foreign workers to various parts of the country so we could see the sights. Once, we made trips into the occupied territories of the West Bank to visit the city of Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, intending to do a bit of sightseeing. I had visions of shops and buying souvenirs.
As we got off the bus, we noticed a group of perhaps twenty or thirty people gathering off to our right. Within minutes, they were pelting us with stones. The Israelis who had brought us to the city quickly herded us back into the bus and we left. According to the expectations that some pundits have, I suppose we had done something to “provoke” them. But I can’t recall any other cities I’ve visited—except Ramallah—that ever treated tourists like that. I should also point out that the Israelis who were with us—about six of them—were all heavily armed with Uzis and M-16 machine guns. Remarkably, no Palestinians were gunned down—in fact no shots were fired—despite the belief of many pundits that Israelis are bloodthirsty savages who delight in shooting unarmed Palestinian children.
The search for peace in the Middle East is a desirable thing, and occasionally peace actually happens there instead of war. One of the more spectacular examples of that occurred between Israel and Egypt in 1977, when Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt, unexpectedly flew to Israel and addressed its parliament. Within a year, Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement and normalized relations. In exchange, Israel gave up control of the Sinai Peninsula which it had acquired following the six day war with Egypt in 1967. It should be pointed out that the Sinai had the only oil wells that Israel had ever had access to.
Why did peace happen between Israel and Egypt, and later between Israel and Jordan in 1994—which also normalized diplomatic relations with Israel—while no peace has yet been achieved between Israel and the Palestinians or between Israel and Syria? Some try to argue that Israel is to blame, but that seems hard to demonstrate given Israel’s track record of repeatedly attempting to achieve peace with its neighbors, and a demonstrated willingness to give up territory captured in war in exchange for it.
Many seem to forget how the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and Golan Heights happened to come into Israel's possession in the first place. Hint: several nations attacked Israel in 1967 but lost the war with them. Oddly, although the Arab states had controlled those regions from 1948 to 1967, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), formed in 1964 never attacked Jordan, Egypt or Syria. They only threatened Israel. No Arab state ever suggested, between 1948 and 1967, that Jordan, Egypt or Syria establish a Palestinian state, despite the fact that the original UN mandate that had created Israel as a Jewish state in 1948 had also created a Palestinian Arab state that Jordan, Egypt and Syria merely annexed for themselves in 1948.
In 2006 the terrorist organization Hamas took control of the Palestinian government after winning an election. Hamas’ attitude toward Israel and their thoughts about finding a peaceful solution to their problems are discussed in Article 13 of its charter:
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. "Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know."
Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Moslem problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?....
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with….
Obviously, such sentiments as Hamas expresses would seem to make the achievement of peace much more difficult. Given that the majority of Palestinians currently agree with such sentiments (based on their vote in 2006) makes the prospect of achieving peace anytime soon between Israel and the Palestinians improbable. Just because we in the United States want peace and just because the Israelis want peace, does not mean that peace will happen if the Palestinians don’t want it. If one side is not actually interested in solving the problem, is it possible then to solve it? And how then is it Israel’s fault if peace cannot be achieved?
All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.
Why do so many people dislike science fiction? The answer goes like this: You have to think of science fiction in contrast to its nearest competitor, heroic fantasy. In heroic fantasy, by and large, things are pretty stable, and then some terrible evil comes along that's going to take over the world. People have to fight it. In the end they win, of course, so the earth is restored to what it was. The status quo comes back. Science fiction's quite different. With science fiction, the world's in some sort of a state, and something awful happens. It may not be evil, it may be good or neutral, just an accident. Whatever they do in the novel, at the end the world is changed forever. That's the difference between the two genres — and it's an almighty difference! And the truth is science fiction, because we all live in a world that's changed forever. It's never going to go back to what it was in the '60s or the '70s or the '30s, or whatever. It's changed.
A little electronic device that triggered one of the most dramatic technological explosions in history turns 60 on Sunday. The humble transistor and its descendant, the semiconductor chip, which made the digital revolution possible, today touch nearly every facet of our lives.
All around us, billions upon billions of transistors are quietly at work in computers, cellphones, radios, TVs, printers, copiers, CD players, cars -- in anything with electronics in it. Transistors enabled space exploration and the personal computer revolution. (In the words of Bill Gates, "Without the invention of the transistor, I'm quite sure that the PC would not exist as we know it today.") Without transistors there would be no iPod or hand-held cellphone. No Internet. There would be no multibillion-dollar semiconductor industry, no Intel, Nokia, Microsoft or Google. No Silicon Valley.
Today, the most complex silicon chips can carry more than 1 billion transistors each -- and we manufacture billions of new chips each year. It's nearly impossible to comprehend the numbers. Each year we manufacture about 10 million times as many transistors as there are estimated stars in the Milky Way.
If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one — the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.
I gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute Sept. 10th at which I gave an alternative history of the last six years, because the more I thought about how much we're failing, the more I concluded you couldn't just nitpick individual places and talk about individual changes because it didn't capture the scale of the disaster. And I had been particularly impressed by a new book that came out called Troublesome Young Men, which is a study of the younger Conservatives who opposed appeasement in the 1930s and who took on Chamberlain. It's a very revealing book and a very powerful book because we tend to look backwards and we tend to overstate Churchill's role in that period. And we tend to understate what a serious and conscientious and thoughtful effort appeasement was and that it was the direct and deliberate policy of very powerful and very willful people. We tend to think of it as a psychological weakness, as though Chamberlain was somehow craven. He wasn't craven. Chamberlain had a very clear vision of the world, and he was very ruthless domestically. And they believed so deeply in avoiding war with Germany that as late as the spring of 1940, when they are six months or seven months into they war, they are dropping leaflets instead of bombs on the Rohr, and they are urging the British news media not to publish anti-German stories because they don't want to offend the German people. And you read this book, and it makes you want to weep because, interestingly, the younger Tories who were most opposed to appeasement were the combat veterans of World War I, who had lost all of their friends in the war but who understood that the failure of appeasement would result in a worse war and that the longer you lied about reality, the greater the disaster.
And they were severely punished and isolated by Chamberlain and the Conservative machine, and as I read that, I realized that that's really where we are today. Our current problem is tragic. You have an administration whose policy is inadequate being opposed by a political Left whose policy is worse, and you have nobody prepared to talk about the policy we need. Because we are told if you are for a strong America, you should back the Bush policy even if it's inadequate, and so you end up making an argument in favor of something that can't work. So your choice is to defend something which isn't working or to oppose it by being for an even weaker policy. So this is a catastrophe for this country and a catastrophe for freedom around the world. Because we have refused to be honest about the scale of the problem....
....What truly bothers me is the shallowness and the sophistry of the Western governments, starting with our own. When a person says to you, "I don't recognize that you exist," you don't start a negotiation. The person says, "I literally do not recognize" and then lies to you. I mean the first thing you say to this guy is "Terrific. Let's go visit Mecca. Since clearly there's no other state except Israel that is based on religion, the fact that I happen to be Christian won't bother anybody." And then he'll say, "Well, that's different."
We tolerate this. We have created our own nightmare because we refuse to tell the truth. We refuse to tell the truth to our politicians. Our State Department refuses to tell the truth to the country. If the president of the United States, and again, we're now so bitterly partisan, we're so committed to red vs. blue hostility, that George W. Bush doesn't have the capacity to give an address from the Oval Office that has any meaning for half the country. And the anti-war Left is so strong in the Democratic primary that I think it's almost impossible for any Democratic presidential candidate to tell the truth about the situation.
And so the Republicans are isolated and trying to defend incompetence. The Democrats are isolated and trying to find a way to say, "I'm really for strength as long as I can have peace, but I'd really like to have peace, except I don't want to recognize these people who aren't very peaceful."
I just want to share with you, as a grandfather, as a citizen, as a historian, as somebody who was once speaker of the House, this is a serious national crisis. This is 1935 or 1936, and it's getting worse every year.
None of our enemies are confused. Our enemies don't get up each morning and go, "Oh, gosh, I think I'll have an existential crisis of identity in which I will try to think through whether or not we can be friends while you're killing me." Our enemies get up every morning and say, "We hate the West. We hate freedom." They would not allow a meeting with women in the room.
The Advanced Tactical Laser can place a 10-centimeter-wide beam with the heating power of a blowtorch on distant targets for up to 100 shots. The Advanced Tactical Laser can produce a four-inch-diameter beam of energy that can slice through metal from a distance of 9 miles....
...The ATL is not subject to direct attack by small arms or shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. In fact, it can be far enough away that its action is almost covert. The laser beam makes no sound and is not visible. The effect of the beam may not be easily associated with a presence of an aircraft several miles away!
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
XCOR Aerospace and Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) completed tests on a methane-burning rocket engine for NASA. This engine could help return America to the Moon and allow astronauts to tap extra-terrestrial sources of fuel. The engine work was funded by NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program at Langley, as part of the Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development Project based at Glenn Research Center.
The 7,500 lbf thrust liquid oxygen (LOX)/liquid methane (LCH4) Workhorse Engine is being used to develop and refine methane rocket technology for possible use on lunar expeditions. Methane offers higher performance relative to other storable propellants, is less expensive to handle because of its lower toxicity, and is easier to store long-term than liquid hydrogen.
An additional factor that makes this propellant combination unique is the possibility that Oxygen and Methane can be obtained or manufactured from In-Situ Resources on the moon and other planets.
A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You're there now doing the thing on paper. You're not killing the goose, you're just producing an egg. So I don't worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It's a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I've heard about it. I've felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I'd much rather go fishing. for example. or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, 'Well, now it's writing time and now I'll write.' There's no difference on paper between the two.
It was just like some ancient electricity-powered computer; it didn't matter how fast, error-free, and tireless it was, it didn't matter how great a labour-saving boon it was, it didn't matter what it could do our how many different ways it could amaze; if you pulled its plug out, or just hit the Off button, all it became was a lump of matter; all its programs became just settings, dead instructions, and all its computations vanished as quickly as they'd moved.
It was, also, like the dependency of the human-basic brain on the human-basic body; no matter how intelligent, perceptive and gifted you were, no matter how entirely you lived for the ascetic rewards of the intellect and eschewed the material world and the ignobility of the flesh, if you heart just gave out...
That was the Dependency Principle; that you could never forget where your Off switches were located, even if it was somewhere tiresome.
- Walk up to random people and say "WHAT YEAR IS THIS?" and when they tell you, get quiet and then say "Then there's still time!" and run off.
- Stand in front of a statue (any statue, really), fall to your knees, and yell "NOOOOOOOOO"
- Stare at newspaper headlines and look astonished.
Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.
In the 1970s, Kingsley Amis, Arthur C Clarke and Brian Aldiss were judging a contest for the best science-fiction novel of the year. They were going to give the prize to Grimus, Salman Rushdie’s first novel. At the last minute, however, the publishers withdrew the book from the award. They didn’t want Grimus on the SF shelves. “Had it won,” Aldiss, the wry, 82-year-old godfather of British SF, observes, “he would have been labelled a science-fiction writer, and nobody would have heard of him again.”
Here is what I wrote about SF. If it has a familiar ring, my publishers liked it well enough to make it into a postcard for publicity purposes. 'I love SF for its surrealist verve, its loony non-reality, its piercing truths, its wit, its masked melancholy, its nose for damnation, its bunkum, its contempt for home comforts, its slewed astronomy, its xenophilia, its hip, its classlessness, its mysterious machines, its gaudy backdrops, its tragic insecurity.'
Science fiction has always seemed to me such a polyglot, an exotic mistress, a parasite, a kind of new language coined for the purpose of giving tongue to the demented twentieth century.
Science fiction, outside of poetry, is the only literary field which has no limits, no parameters whatsoever. You can go not only into the future, but into that wonderful place called "other", which is simply another universe, another planet, another species.
Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.
Torchwood is a science fiction drama television programme, created by Russell T Davies and starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles. It deals with the machinations and activities of the Cardiff branch of the fictional Torchwood Institute, who deal with supernatural occurrences. An initial 13-part series was commissioned by the BBC as a spin-off from the long-running science fiction programme Doctor Who with which it is closely interlinked. ...
The series is set in Cardiff and follows the Wales branch of a covert agency called the Torchwood Institute which investigates extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges alien technology for its own use. To paraphrase Torchwood Three's commander-in-chief, Captain Jack Harkness, the organisation is separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations. Their public perception is as merely a 'special ops' group.
Our fellow passenger was Major Grogan, who thirty years before had been the first white man to go from the Cape to Cairo. It took him three years, one whole year in the marshes of the Sudd; his two companions died. It is said he ate them; I think so. He looked like a sensible man.