Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reviews 19 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg - The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka

Reviews 19
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka

The Flicker Men is a novel set at the intersection of math, physics, and The Soul.  It's about the nature of reality and where humans fit into reality.  

On this blog, we focus on Science Fiction Romance and Paranormal Romance, involving ourselves with the issue of Soul Mates and the Happily Ever After ending.  

The Flicker Men is about all of our topics, without being a Romance.  If you're writing science fiction romance, you need to read this novel.  Here's why. 

On the September 15, 2015 post, we focused on our surrounding "real" world and how readers who live in it are looking for the best romance books that fiction publishers are producing.


Readers who seek "escape" are looking to writers to lift them up out of the daily tizzy, to live in another world for a while and let their nerves settle down.  From that far vantage point, they can view their problems in a whole new light.

After a book vacation, a reader can return to the real world and make better decisions, execute better actions.  

Why do we seek escape reading?  Can we achieve escape from daily life by reading realistic fiction books?

We all live in different "realities" -- our subjective reality and some people believe there exists an objective reality.  Some people believe there is no objective reality, just shifting subjective landscapes.  We create our own lives as a bubble of illusion around us.  

Frankly, I lean more toward the idea that there is an objective reality, and it is a human's business to strive to define it, explore it, know it, master living in objective reality.  

But I also factor in the plasticity of human consciousness.  The things that really matter to us, as living creatures, matter because they are subjectively real.  The important part of reality is that which we perceive.  

There is one subject that brings the objective shape of Reality together with the individualistic, idiosyncratic, personalized subjective reality of each of us.

That subject is popularly known as the Art of Tarot, and it overlaps and interpenetrates the science of Astrology.

That is astrology as a science, an organized body of empirical observations, not astronomy which is also an organized body of empirical observations.  

Astrology is coincidences recorded, and maps out the ups and downs of our subjective reality where it interfaces with external events.  Tarot maps out the ups and downs of our subjective reality pretty as it responds to external Events.

Does that sound familiar to writers of romance books?  Your novel, or the stories you write, need a structure.  

Astrology can suggest plots, the sequence of life events that seem part of objective reality, outside the self, way out of a Character's control.  Tarot can suggest how a Character reacts to those Events consistent with character traits familiar to the reader.

For example, my first award winning novel, Unto Zeor, Forever, depicts the main character's Saturn Return as he walks through the Tarot lessons of the High Priestess and the Empress.

Science Fiction has been defined as the story of how discoveries in science impact single human beings, or civilization as a whole, or both. 

Who would you be if you lived in a galactic civilization with lots of aliens?  Or during Earth's first exploration of the stars, seeking First Contact?  

Reading a good book of that type can qualify as "escape."  But even better, it can qualify as another perspective on your life, your identity, and the possibilities for solving your current real-world problems to get on to the next phase of your existence.

For decades, the best astronomers accepted the mathematical analysis that said the existence of other planets, never mind planets enough like Earth to harbor life as we know it, was so improbable as to be impossible.

So Alternate Universes and Fantasy Genre became a very popular form of fiction.

Now Hubble and other imaging sources have provided proof that there are other planets, some of them within the "life as we know it" zone.  "Life" is still a big maybe, but traces and hints are turning up indicating there are DNA chains and complex chemicals "out there."  

So science fiction is coming  back into fashion with interplanetary and galactic stories such as we looked at last week with Jean Johnson's "Theirs Not To Reason Why" series.

She used an entirely plausible depiction of TIME as the basis for taking the reader into a new perspective.  Her main character, Ia, is a precognitive who can scan the life events of individuals and their descendents for a thousand years.

After the TV Series Numb3rs (available on Amazon Instant Video) popularized the practical applications of some very esoteric mathematics, we have seen more popular science articles explaining how astrophysicists are applying mathematics to unravel the fabric of space-time, defining and re-defining what a "particle" is/might be and what waves have to do with that.

Einstein's Relativity is holding up well, but there are applications where it does not seem adequate.

The part of the theory that pertains to The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka is neatly summarized here:

Here is a classic graphic showing the Earth's gravity well.  Note how as you get closer to Earth, the shape of the boxes changes, so it takes different amounts of "Time" to traverse a box depending on where you are.

Space and Time are not separate.  OK, some recent work is showing Einstein's model fraying at the edges.  It may not be the whole story, but it's very dependably real where it does apply.

Einstein didn't have any satellites to experiment with.  He came up with this idea via mathematics and physics.  It was a totally useless fantasy for his world.  It is the basis of our current space program explorations.  And it is the basis of discoveries being made in particle physics.

To understand the infinitely large, one must have a solid understanding of the infinitely "small."

"Large" and "Small" are concepts that can not be defined without using "space" (the 3 physical dimensions, Height, Width, Depth).

If a thing doesn't have "size" how can it "be?"

Well, how big is your Soul?  How much does it weigh?

We can measure the "brain" but have not yet "located" (in space) the Soul.  Therefore, people who study this kind of thing have a hard time including "Soul" in their model of Reality.

Thus reading Romance Novels is "escape" for them because the best romance novels are about Soul Mates.  Free Romance Novels are flying off Amazon's virtual shelves very likely because  spending time in a universe where Souls are real is just the escape that is sought by Romance Reader.

The most profound thing I've ever learned about Souls came via a course on Kabbalah, where I learned the soul enters the material world through the dimension of Time.  Not SPACE -- but TIME.  The Soul exists through TIME -- but not SPACE.  The brain exists through SPACE and TIME.

Another thing I learned from Kabbalah while writing the 5 books on Tarot
is that the Soul descends into the body in stages, starting at conception and proceeding (I think by quantum leaps) to the threshold of sexual maturity at about 13.  This theory produces a unique paradigm for child-rearing, setting expectations expanding as the Soul gains a better grip on the animal body.  Given knowledge of what will be expected of him/her at given birthdays, and training to rise to that new level, maturity unfolds in a more steady way.

A fictional character given the advantage of such an upbringing, such an understanding of Body and Soul and their Relationship is better able to cope with the challenges of meeting a Soul Mate.

Working on the current exalted level, cutting edge mathematicians are now inventing the mathematics being used to describe and hunt for particles such as the Higgs Boson and Dark Matter and mini black holes.

Armed with great new mathematical tools, particle physicists have revved up the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2015 to run  to see what happens at the smallest level.

Scientists will be watching for the existence of mini black-holes when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator becomes fully operational this spring, because the detection of those black holes could change what we know about how gravity works, according to a new physics paper.

The existence of the mini black holes would lend support to string theory, which posits that different dimensions could exist and parallel universes are possible, according to a paper by physicists Mir Faizal, Mohammed M. Khalil and Ahmed Farag Ali, published in the current issue of the journal Physics Letters B.
----------END QUOTE-------------

So the long standing science fiction premise of "alternate universes" --

Here is Jack of Eagles by James Blish (who wrote SPOCK MUST DIE many years later).  This cover

Jack of Eagles by James Blish

is from the 1982 Avon Edition, but it was probably first published in 1952, possibly based on a 1941 concept.

Here is a story description from Google:
Danny Caiden is on the run - from the FBI, the SEC, the Justice Department and the Mob. Only recently, Danny was an average New York copywriter, until he suddenly found he had ESP...
----------END QUOTE-----------

The kind of ESP Danny Caiden developed had to do with "hearing" telepathic voices and leakages across universes, across Time. Other than that hypothesis, the book was pretty standard, built on what might, today, be called a book writing template.

So speculation such as Jean Johnson used in her Theirs Not To Reason Why series has been around since the 1930's, but though there has been a lot of work done in the field of Einstein's Relativity, it's only recently that hard-science experiments and long-range-observations from orbit have inched us closer to understanding Space-Time and the whole Wave/Particle thing.

Ted Kosmatka has picked up the thread started by James Blish -- even if Kosmatka had never heard of Jack of Eagles -- and breathed Soul into the speculations of mathematicians and particle physicists.

What if there are other "dimensions" -- whole universes adjacent to ours?  What if the "fabric" of space-time was thinned at some point and penetrated?  What would we learn?  What would we risk?  What has that to do with Space, Time, and Soul?

The TV Series Warehouse 13 explored this to some extent, as did The TV Series Sliders, but even more to the point, the TV Series Fringe gave us more possibilities.  These shows popularized the basic idea, as did Star Trek (the famous ST:ToS episode Mirror Mirror, and also did Time Travel).  Quantum Leap took us back in time, and focused on "repairing" or fixing things that went "wrong."  But Quantum Leap didn't dwell on the mathematics of Space and Time.

If you travel in "Time" -- you will likely land in empty space because the Earth MOVED as did the Sun.  So if you travel back in Time, you must also move through space to where the Earth was "then."  So Sliders seems to me more plausible than Quantum Leap.  But Quantum Leap dealt with the concept of Soul in a quantized universe.

All these popular TV Series have given the general public a notion about alternate realities formerly familiar only to science fiction readers, but that notion is, "It's a nice story, but I know the difference between fiction and reality."

Any scientist working on the cutting edge of these astrophysics and particle physics investigations knows the difference between objective reality and subjective fiction.  Most of these people live in objective reality, using imagination to push at the edges of human knowledge.

Most of these people are very certain the Soul does not "exist" because it has never been "found."

If the Soul has no spacial dimensions, then it will never be "found," unless we learn something about "time" that we don't know now.

So currently, scientists working at the edge of this "alternate universe" discovery are very certain about a few things they do know and they tend to be dedicated to objective reality.

One distinctive hallmark of good science fiction is that the plot turns on a discovery.  When that discovery confounds the scientist and derails the very sanity of the discoverer, you get the very best science fiction.

That is the issue that Ted Kosmatka deals with in The Flicker Men.

Kosmatka starts with a man, Eric Argus, a theoretical mathematical physicist who is renowned in his field for papers published.  Nobody knows why Argus quit, walked away, disappeared.  We meet him when he's just barely recovering from bouts of drunken stupor.  A friend gives him a job in a think tank, -- no assignment, just do some new original research, we won't tell you what to do.

He languishes around the place, meeting people seemingly at random, knowing he's on probation and has to write up something to present to the board -- but has no ideas.

He refuses to touch the work he was doing just before he walked off into a drunken haze.

Then "out of the blue" he discovers a bit of antique equipment in storage, unpacks it and replicates the classic double-slit experiment that demonstrates the wave/particle properties of a photon.  He also rigs up the detector that illustrates that an observer changes the photon being observed.

But his time-wasting doodling around with an unproductive experiment produces an odd discovery.  If it is an animal that observes, the change in the observed particle does not happen.

So he tests other scientists, and they all produce change when they observe.  He tests all kinds of animals at the zoo, and none produce change.

An anti-abortion group gets wind of the experiment, decides the difference in results of observation changing reality and decides the agent of change upon observation is the Soul.  They want to prove that fetuses have Souls in the womb and therefore must not be aborted.

Their experiment on the unborn produces mixed results.  Some fetuses produce the change, and some do not.  The results are the same regardless of developmental stage - some do, some don't.

The question then is do all adults have enough Soul to create change when observing?

So one of his colleagues takes off to test a lot of people to see if their observations change "objective reality."

The answer he finds is that no, not every adult human can observe and produce change in the observed.

This is confounding beyond belief.

The social fabric is stressed.  People try to kill him, destroy the place he works.

Against his will, Argus is driven to pick up the threads of the work he had dropped -- and we discover what scared him to the depths of his soul, left him deranged, depressed, and unable to think about the subject.

He has created a window into an alternate universe.

Things get even stranger from there.

You have to read the book to discover what Eric Argus does about all this, and what effect his actions have on his objective and subjective realities.

Is "The Soul" real?  Does it matter?  Can science detect Soul?

This is not a Romance Novel.  Eric Argus barely interacts with anyone.  He has known and related to people previously, but does not connect with them now.  He meets a lot of people now, but does not deeply connect with them though he obviously is capable of caring about others.

The story is about Eric Argus making his personal peace with the concept that The Soul is real.

The plot is about the scientific community and the general public coming to grips with the concept that The Soul is real.

The ending is about the question, "Does humanity really need to know that The Soul is real?"  That question is complicated by discoveries about how alternate universes are generated.

There's some cutting edge speculative mathematics woven into Kosmatka's ending involved in seeing our world as a hologram.  That's a subject hitting the popular press now.

Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram
Physicist Brian Greene explains how properties at the black hole’s surface—its event horizon—suggest the unsettling theory that our world is a mere representation of another universe, a shadow of the realm where real events take place.

When we learn to model our universe as a complete hologram, we generate another Universe in the chain which causes destruction of prior universes.  Those living in prior universes naturally want to stop us from modeling the universe as a hologram, thus destroying them.  Can the Soul fix that problem just by observing?

How would you feel if you had no Soul, but others did?

There is a lot more to be written on this topic, especially in the Romance genre.

While the Large Hadron Collider is in hot pursuit of Dark Matter, is NASA in hot pursuit of The Soul?

If there is no such thing as a Soul, then there can be no such thing as a Soul Mate, and thus the Romance Genre can only write about sex, not happiness.

Do you want to escape to a world where Souls are real?  What if you had a Soul, but others don't?  What if the reason so many people don't believe the Happily Ever After ending can be objective reality is that you can't have it without a Soul?

Maybe everyone has a Soul, but not every child is raised under conditions that allow the soul to descend and possess the body?

Maybe that non-possessed-by-Soul condition is the source of all the spooky stories about Possession by demons or whatever?

If you want to write your romance novel, you should read The Flicker Men and James Blish's Jack of Eagles.

Neither has any Romance in it, but they describe a world that would be confounded by scientific evidence, undeniable proof, of the existence and function of Soul.

Think about how climate science has become "settled science" - that denying what we know presently is tantamount to being without a Soul.  Suppose the general public accepted scientific proof of the Soul with just as much fervor as we now accept man-made climate change?

What sort of an objective reality would that be?  What sort of fiction would be created to escape that reality?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Forced Consent

Forced Consent.  Now, there's an oxymoron for you, but that is exactly what "Consent Decrees" are--in my opinion--and I am talking about Government and big business imposing their will on writers, not old-fashioned romance.

Where is the consent when a Government-backed internet retailer decides to pay authors 0.006 per page read?  (Source: The Guardian ) (Aso Erica Verillo)

Where is the consent when Government-backed radio decides to pay music authors 0.004 per spin played?  (Source: The Trichordist )

Notice the similarity of the zero-point-double-0-digit rates!

Through "consent decrees" dating back to before most still-active musicians were born, the Government has treated songwriters as would-be exploitative monopolists, and has protected otherwise-hapless terrestrial radio broadcasters and internet music service providers by having one or two unelected, Government-appointed judges decide how much (or how little) a music copyright owner should be paid every time their music is played.

(BTW.  Consent Decrees are the reason that, come election time, a right wing politician will choose a theme song, and use it, and the left wing musician who wrote that song will object in vain.)
"...the consent decrees effectively substitute the opinion of a federal judge for that of a fair negotiation to set the rates at which those services compensate my fellow songwriters and me. After 73 years this has effectively become an unlegislated compulsory license. The consent decrees walk and talk like a compulsory license and after decades of practice they effectively are a compulsory license..."

Source: The Trichordist "Consent decrees violate individual rights..."

It's been a slow ride to the bottom for musicians, and book authors may find themselves in the same sinking boat.

The old music labels may have exploited musicians, but at least they promoted, edited, identified and groomed new talent and put out a quality product. Also, they stood up for the sale of albums as well as singles (with B-sides).

(Source: http://thetrichordist.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the-old-boss-full-post/)

Likewise the traditional publishers may have exploited authors, but at least they paid advances, edited, and groomed and sometimes promoted new talent.  Also, they promoted new authors by putting out multi-author short story anthologies.

The music consent decrees applied to the Labels, but it also applies to the independents.... to the musicians who have their own labels.

Since Amazon allegedly complained to the Government that Apple and the 5 major publishers were endangering its monopoly of the ebook market (some would call it a monopsony), the door has been opened to consent decrees setting the market price for ebooks.

The Government did so, that time, for two years.... but even if agency has returned, it is "modified" and the new terms are applied to small press and indies as well as to the 5 publishing houses that may have "consented" to the "settlement".

AG's more measured explanation:
As part of a settlement with the Department of Justice, the publishers signed consent decrees requiring them to use the “wholesale” pricing model, where the publishers would sell books to retailers at list price, and retailers could set consumer prices as low or high as they wanted. Each publisher was free to return to agency pricing with Amazon after the expiration of its consent decree with the Department of Justice.
For an explanation of the original musical consent decrees,which are being reviewed:
In the United States, royalties from the performance of musical compositions are collected and distributed by the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) ASCAPSESAC and BMI. Of these organizations—which distribute revenue to their songwriter and publisher members—ASCAP and BMI are governed by “consent decrees” originally issued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as a means to curb the anticompetitive tendencies of the publishing sector.
Consent decrees are limitations agreed upon by parties in response to regulatory concern over potential or actual market abuses. Back in 1941, there was only one legally recognized copyright in music—the musical composition—and the balance of power in the industry was heavily tilted to the music publishers and ASCAP. At the time, ASCAP acted as a kind of gatekeeper to the world’s most valuable musical repertoires, to the extent that the DOJ took action that same year to balance the scales. The result of this intervention are consent decrees that, to this day, govern how radio, whether AM/FM or digital, licenses compositions. BMI was placed under a similar set of conditions in the same year. ASCAP’s consent decree was last updated in 2001; BMI’s in 1994.
In the old days, for musicians, the tour was the marketing strategy (or a second revenue source) and the vinyl sales were the bread and butter.  Now, musicians are forced to subsidize internet start ups such as Pandora and Spotify, they are told that touring is their bread and butter, and having their music distributed by anyone who wants to distribute it is a marketing strategy.

Upside down!

Authors aren't being told to perform on stage, but incomes are down, and they are being encouraged to allow their stories to be all but given away, and their income is supposed to come from marketing, advertising and affiliate fees. How sustainable is that?

Especially since, it appears, that the cat is about to come out of the bag regarding how effective internet advertising really is. http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-click-fraud/ (Hint, a lot of the eyeballs that "see" "traffic" are merely bots, which will never buy the advertisers' products, even if the bots click the links.)

According to the Authors' Guild,

"Overall, the survey results showed that author incomes are down, hybrid authorship is up, and authors are spending more time marketing than ever before. In short, the business of authorship is both more varied and less profitable than just six years ago. The following document summarizes the results in more detail.
Click here to view the survey brochure that summarizes the results in more detail. "

My apologies for the somewhat disjointed flow.  I prefer to write, print out, edit on real paper.

Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why We Like Animals

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has a special "Collector's Edition" on sale titled "The Science of Dogs and Cats." (Try to find it in your local store; it's quite substantial.) Articles cover the latest research on topics such as how dogs and cats evolved from wolves and wildcats, the inner emotional lives of cats and dogs, canine and feline communication, whether animals display true empathy, whether they have anything that could be called "ethics," and whether they have a "theory of mind" (modifying their own behavior on the basis of what they think other creatures know or believe), among others. The piece on the Toxoplasma parasite especially intrigues me; that's the organism that makes infected rats attracted to the odor of cats instead of scared away from it. The effect works on the same part of the rat's brain involved in the sexual drive. A real-life biological analogy for one of the familiar fictional tropes I apply to my naturally evolved vampires—that vampires exert an irresistible allure to make victims eager to be preyed on!

"Dogs are unique in the animal kingdom because they have figured out how to join the community of an entirely alien species"—what a cool concept! The first essay in the publication (something between a thick magazine and a thin trade paperback) explores "Pets: Why Do We Have Them?" My first reaction was along the line of "duh," as this question seems to me like asking why we like to eat or breathe. As the tagline of the article says, "People have an innate interest in other species." The familiar reasons are discussed: Pets reduce stress, as proven by objective measurements such as blood pressure. Many domesticated animals trigger affection because they fit into the "cuteness" pattern of large, round heads, soft contours, and wide eyes, like human babies. Some people value pets' capacity for "unconditional love" and actually regard their dogs as "role models for a better life." As a fantasy fan and writer, however, I like to believe there's an even more fundamental motive for our attachment to animals.

C. S. Lewis says in the chapter on "Affection" in his THE FOUR LOVES, "The higher and domesticated animal is, so to speak, a 'bridge' between us and the rest of nature. We at all times feel somewhat painfully our human isolation from the sub-human world. . . . It [an animal] has three legs in nature's world and one in ours. It is a link, an ambassador. . . . Man with dog closes a gap in the universe."

Lewis's friend Tolkien in "On Fairy Stories" puts the same thesis even more eloquently, when he considers why talking animals and magical comprehension of animal speech play such a prominent role in fairy tales. He remarks on the profound human desire "to converse with other living things," a wish "as ancient as the Fall," rooted in "the sense of separation of ourselves from beasts.” He says, "A vivid sense of that separation is very ancient; but also a sense that it was a severance: a strange fate and a guilt lies on us. Other creatures are like other realms with which Man has broken off relations, and sees now only from the outside at a distance, being at war with them, or on the terms of an uneasy armistice. There are a few men who are privileged to travel abroad a little; others must be content with travellers' tales."

As I see it, the same desire to know the mind of the Other impels us to imagine talking with animals as well as communicating with trees, machines, or nonhuman aliens.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reviews 18 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg: Theirs Not To Reason Why by Jean Johnson

Reviews 18
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Theirs Not To Reason Why by Jean Johnson 

The general topic of this blog is Alien Romance which means Romance between someone like you and someone very much not like you.

Perhaps the alien is a ghost, a being from another planet, a human/alien half-breed like Spock, someone from another Dimension, or as the Ancient Greeks had it, a "god" who mates with a human to produce a Hero whom they then proceed to torture with various forms of abuse.

The best science fiction takes the current bleeding edge scientific theories and applies the speculations:
A) What if ....
B) If Only ....
C) If This Goes On ...

The kind of science fiction I like best plays out those speculations against the human dimension of Relationships.

The very-very best have Human Relationships galore plus a Romantic Ignition of real Love, a Soul Mate, and a huge scientific problem that, if not solved, will destroy the Relationships and prevent the Romance from culminating in Happily Ever After.

In other words, the "stakes" in the main plot involve the HEA goal of life.

The opposition, or conflict, that causes Characters to take chances, make decisions, commit to insane courses of action, to play for high stakes in order to be able to solve the problem and attain the HEA, is Ignorance.  What you don't know can kill you.  Or worse, destroy you.

Some really great novels turn on the Ignorance of Characters where what they do not know is already known to others -- e.g. secrets, international intrigue, spying, or just the "secrets" adults keep from children.

But in science fiction the "ignorance" obstacle is about something that nobody knows, no human has ever known, that may in fact be (at this point in time) unknowable by the human brain which has yet to evolve the capacity to know it.

In order to bring the Romance to fruition, that Ignorance must be dispelled.

To live Happily Ever After in a science fiction romance novel, the Characters must discover something nobody has ever known before.

Sequels are generated as these Characters try to disseminate their new Wisdom.  They may be living the Happily Ever After life they fought to achieve, but now that they are happy, they can not endure the misery of others.

"If only everyone knew this!" then everyone would be happy like we are.  But of course, nobody will listen.

When was the last time you lost an argument and just changed your whole view of the universe to the winner's notion, changed your religion and politics, to the opposite of what they were just because someone proved you wrong?

In comics aimed at children, you often see a plot where a character just Changes from one illustrative panel of the story to the next because they learn something from another character.

In real life, we all know how stubbornly we cling to the views we have invested in emotionally, regardless of new facts uncovered.  Even when we profess to have adopted a new belief, even when we believe we have adopted a new belief -- the old belief still creeps into our behavior.  Real change takes years, even decades, to integrate into behavior and values, into emotional responses.

New science describes certain brain functions that make some people more capable of changing their minds about their beliefs than others.  Humans differ from each other, and some differences are hardwired into the brain structure, or so new science reveals.


In old fashioned science fiction (published to the market of adolescent boys), new facts changed minds if only the main character could prove them.

In modern science fiction, and a lot of Fantasy, the main character has to kick butt and go their own way to save the universe.

Jean Johnson
has given us a wonderful example of the lone woman from a tight-knit and loving family who accepts the responsibility to save the galaxy's civilization as she knows it, just because she discovers something nobody else knows.

This is the 5 book series, Theirs Not To Reason Why by Jean Johnson.  The main character is named Ia.

Here are all 5 books as a single Kindle download.


You can get the paper ACE Books editions, but several of them are very thick with small type.

Note the volume titled Hardship is more slender with larger type as it was split off from the 5th volume, Damnation.

The series was planned as 4 books, then the final volume split.  Hellfire is 476 pages in paper, and the type is telephone book size.

The 5 volumes tell one continuous story focused tightly on the character named Ia.  The writing cleverly allows you to enter the series at any point.

Each volume is a complete story, and the backstory is well enough sketched that everything makes sense and reads smoothly.  But the series is a series -- it's more fun in read order.

A Soldier's Duty
An Officer's Duty

Hellfire and Damnation are ship's names.  Hardship and Damnation were to be one book titled Damnation.

It is military SF set in a galactic war situation, tightly focused on the main character, a woman named Ia who enlists in the Service, does boot camp, rises from an enlisted grunt to top Admiral with a lot of power-titles bestowed on her by various allied civilizations.

The reason I enjoyed it so much is that the story is a mature, adult version of the standard "Mary Sue" fanfic that I love so much.  Then the last book in the series ends off with a surprise "reveal" that changes your perspective on whether it is a "Mary Sue"  because well, maybe it's not.

On her website http://jeanjohnson.net Jean admits she did go to professional writing after writing fanfic, and she knows the fanfic field.  I consider that a plus.

Theirs Not To Reason Why as a series, is a very well constructed multi-volume story arc, and has a standard Galactic War plot line, standard (if ridiculously successful) military career arc complete with a change in service branch.

But to this familiar structure, Jean Johnson adds the Fantasy dimension of Precognition raised to the level of science.  And that makes the rocketing rise in military grade completely plausible.

There is no explanation though for the maturity level of this 18 year old girl who over the course of a few short years becomes trusted with the destiny of the galaxy by older, wiser, heads.

Predicting the future accurately (even with a fudge factor for lesser probabilities that manifest) does not give you judgement.

So suspend disbelief and just gobble up these novels.  They comprise one huge, great read.

In the Theirs Not To Reason Why series, many people (human and otherwise) in this galactic civilization have working precognition that spans anywhere from a few minutes to maybe weeks or months.

But ONLY our Heroine, Ia, can "see" up the timestream for more than a thousand years.  Such a person was prophesied and at least one planet has believed such a person would come onto the scene.  She wins their recognition as that prophet of a thousand years.

Ia sees a galactic invasion coming, tries to find a way for her galaxy to survive it, and can see only one way through.  She knows it will cost her all hope of an HEA at the end of it all.  It will cost her every good thing that life brings -- and eventually it will cost her life itself.  But it will save the galaxy.  One life to save trillions.

The threat Ia sees coming will arrive in about 300 years.  She could choose to live out her life, claim her HEA, and a cozy familiy life.  But she can't because she can see the disaster looming via Precognition.

She tries to find another way and can't, so she launches into a career to make the reputation she needs to gain the credibility and political power necessary to save the galactic civilzation.
Her every move is guided by her Precognition.  She anticipates the results of each move everyone in a pivotal role will make and because of her accuracy in prediction, she gains support.

That's a Mary Sue premise -- that people will accept someone who is correct because they are correct.
All you have to do is prove you are right, and people will accept you even if not exactly love you.

Real life doesn't work that way, so suspend disbelief to read these novels.  Ultimately, it will be worth the effort because there's plenty here to enjoy, and Ia does take a lot of flak because she is correct which adds a dash of realism.

So with a background in fanfic, Jean Johnson grabbed my heart, and with a background in professional Romance Novels, she warmed my heart.  In July 2015, the top page of jeanjohnson.net carried some comments by Jean about Fifty Shades of Gray and where it fits into the Romance genre.

-----QUOTE from Jean Johnson  http://jeanjohnson.net ----------

It's normally considered polite to "not say anything bad" about another author's book, as a sign of professional respect...but during the recent media storm and counter-storm regarding the movie adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Gray" being released on Valentine's Day (which I will call FSoG for short), I have decided to put my reputation as an author on the line.

Now, to get this absolutely clear: I do not object to the existence of FSoG. I think it has every right to exist as a written work. Furthermore, I came from fanfiction myself; I know what gets written in fanfic genres. I know the quality of writing can also vary widely from...well, juvenile quality of the sort which most people would never dare show in public, to highly sculpted, truly beautiful prose of a level I myself am still trying to somehow magically attain (i.e. take several more years of hard work and practice). I therefore have no problems with that side of things, either. And if the novels (there are 3, fyi) were written to be, say, psychological horror stories / abuse survivor stories, I'd have no problems with the subject matter at all.

However, I do have a problem with FSoG being promoted as something good, desirable, and emulatable in a romantic relationship.

This series has been repeatedly analyzed by experts in fields of psychology, psychiatry, domestic abuse, AND the kink communities out there, as an utterly unhealthy relationship. These experts in their fields pretty much all agree that the majority of the three stories are not at all romantic, and in fact are rather alarming when considered in the light of the way FSoG and its sequels have been promoted as something which men and women should want, should aspire to, should seek out, and should emulate in their own lives. Indeed, the experts pretty much agree that the FSoG books appear to be romanticized domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is a subject which I take very seriously. It is not romantic.
---------END QUOTE-------

I read that quote after I finished reading the novel series Theirs Not To Reason Why, so it did not color my enjoyment of the books.

I've been thinking lately that we're lacking in TV Shows, films and books that portray characters worth emulating, portray someone you want to become, or whose existence is a breath of fresh air energizing you to become a better self.  Heroes who enjoy life, challenge, risk, and throw themselves into it with zest like Star Trek's Captain Kirk seem to be missing in action.  Jean Johnson's work may change that.

These two facts obtained from her website explain exactly why I fell in love with this series.  I respect this author -- vastly, emphatically, and unshakeably.

She's got two factor identification with me -- fanfic and Abuse Is Not Romantic.

This two-factor-identification between author and reader is a point I've made in several series of writing craft posts about targeting an audience and using theme to target an audience.

Ultimately, the people who like to read your novels are people who have an affinity for something you are saying, and therefore are willing to listen to you say it if only to disagree with you and discuss that disagreement with their friends who they will insist must read your books.





There are a lot of technical craft problems with Theirs Not To Reason Why, a lot of scenes I'd have cut or condensed, many words I'd have cut, pacing that's just a bit off, characters I'd have framed differently, but there are two things Jean Johnson nailed to perfection that are worth studying:

1) Military Career (telescoped in time due to precognition, but realistic), 2) Precognition.

Johnson has postulated a theory of the nature of Time itself, and depicted it with ruthless consistency.

She has allowed for the vagueries of probability, thrown some curves at her Heroine, baited her with temptations to seek happiness instead of saving the galaxy.

This postulation of a theory of Precognition based on a concept of "Time" that holds water (well, tightly enough for fiction), makes these books "real" science fiction, not just a military action story set in space.

The presence of a Love Interest that is not allowed to blossom into full Romance because of the need to save the galaxy from invaders makes this not-quite-but-almost Romance.

The combination sets up an opening for other writers to explore.
The publishing industry is morphing and genres are being redefined.  Theirs Not To Reason Why by Jean Johnson is a pivotal, watershed work in the combining of Romance and Science Fiction.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the Alien Romance angle.  Ia, the Heroine, is only half-human --- she is half energy-creature with teleporting powers.  Her love interest is a human male.

Already a National Best Selling Author with a number of genuine Romance Novels to her credit (and more to come) Jean Johnson has our hearts in her hands and our minds in her clouds (or timestreams).

If you read nothing else the rest of this year, read Jean Johnson's Theirs Not To Reason Why series.

There are more novels set in this series universe yet to come, so you will want the series in your background.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Intellectual Property Rights, Hypocrisy, Transparency, Immorality (By Others)

I mean to write about government "consent degrees", which seems to me to be an Orwellian term for the situation where authors (whether of music or of literature) are forced to accept reduced royalties and loss of negotiating rights by the heavy hand of the government which favors Big Business political contributors, and enables these "disruptors" or exploit writers.

However, my thoughts aren't fully formed, so for now, I will post some thought-provoking links to other writers' blogs and articles in honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day, which was yesterday.


(Credit and kudos for this collection goes to The Trichordist although I am re-mixing their links and adding comments of my own here and there.)

For instance, I am surprised to find myself agreeing with Robert Reich (an advocate for the redistribution of property)... or at least with his headlines. IMHO, the "sharing economy" takes from the copyright owners the right and ability to be paid --or paid fairly-- for their work.

Robert Reich: The sharing economy will be our undoing | Salon
Robert Reich: Is Big Tech Too Powerful....

Amazon, Facebook and Google have the same secret  | Salon
* Our modern tech monopolies made billions and transformed the economy in different ways, but this was the base.
This Salon article points out that Microsoft has enjoyed a monopoly because its business model is based on intellectual property.
"Apple, Oracle, Google, Facebook, Amazon) have been accused of antitrust violations. But even when the antitrust cases have gone against them, the basis of these monopolies in intellectual property has limited the effectiveness of remedies." 

Randolph May and Seth Cooper explain why the Founding Fathers valued copyright protection for creators.
Why intellectual property rights matter | The Washington Times
* The Founders believed ownership of one’s labor is a natural right
"...a substantial amount of online piracy is attributable to the contemporary “downgrading” of IP rights by otherwise law-abiding people. With so much information so readily available on the Internet and so easily copied, distributed, recopied and redistributed, ad infinitum, many suppose online content is there for the taking."
IMHO Consent degrees suggest that a single, appointed judge in New York should decide who decides on what is a fair price for a song or for an ebook and whether or not the creator may negotiate. 
Film Producers Sue 16 Popcorn Time Users in Bid to Curb Piracy | PC Mag
IMHO, the suit against Popcorn Time USERS could be a turning point, because it is the viewers, rather than the piratical uploaders, who may be being pursued.
"Survivor Productions admitted that it had not personally identified the users, but had obtained IP addresses and their general location. The company also knows that they are Comcast customers and says it may be able to identify them with the provider's help."
Allegedly, Popcorn Time is "Netflix for pirated movies". Given the possibility that xfinity or u-verse service providers have the ability to help, this sort of piracy might not be worth the risk.
The MovieTube Litigation Part I: Who Needs SOPA? | Law Theories
IMHO, this doesn't sound like current, compelling reading.... but it is! Allegedly, MovieTube was a movie pirate site based in Singapore, and since the copyright owners had little chance of shutting the pirates down in Singapore, they parsed the existing DMCA (nothing to do with SOPA, which failed) and found arguments that an American court had the power to compel the American sites that made MovieTube possible (and perhaps profitable) to disable links to it.
"Nonetheless, a group of tech giants, comprised of Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Yahoo, filed an amicusbrief arguing that “the proposed injunction violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 and the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA.” Specifically, the amici claim that an injunction against MovieTube couldn’t bind third parties such as themselves because Rule 65(d)(2) and Section 512(j) of the DMCA wouldn’t allow it."
IMHO, that is a weird. reading of Safe Harbor.  The tech giants weren't being fined, or anything like that. They were simply --as I understand it--being deprived of an illegal revenue source that they shouldn't have been exploiting in the first place.
This is a follow-on story:
Hollywood, Silicon Valley Sharpen Their Swords in Piracy War | Variety
Here's hypocrisy (exposed by Jonathan Lamy):
"Jonathan Lamy, spokesman for the Recording Industry Assn. of America, painted the anti-copyright forces as hypocrites. “During the SOPA debate, the common response was that existing law or agencies like the ITC were the appropriate ways to deal with overseas rogue websites,” he said. “Fast forward three years, and apparently those statements are ‘no longer operative.’ Our job is to hold them to their word.”
Of hairy legs and cross-hairs....
"of Carl Crowell, a one-man police force for Hollywood studios seeking to protect the value of their movies. He’s waging a battle against a widespread belief many Internet users hold: that content should be free, regardless of who produced it or under what conditions."
Go Carl!!!

Finally, if "finally" can refer to a steam of five more urls, here are a bunch of links to very much music related stories. I include them without further comment because, IMHO, authors--even alien romance authors--should watch what happens and has happened to the intellectual property rights of songwriters.  They are probably canaries in the coal mine.
The More Money Spotify Makes, The Less Artists Get Paid | Digital Music News
A Stream on Apple Music Pays Songwriters And Publishers 33% More Than A Stream On Spotify | Hypebot
WashingtonWatch: Pre-’72 Royalty Battle Adds Another New York Lawsuit | Grammy Pro https://www.grammypro.com/advocacy/news/washingtonwatch-pre-72-royalty-battle-adds-another-new-york-lawsuit
Radio Giants Facing Bicoastal Legal Demands to Stop Playing Pre-1972 Songs | Billboard
What EMI’s six-month sample amnesty means for the music industry | The Guardian
Have a profitable week,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dragon Life Cycles

Specifically, the reproductive and growth patterns of the dragons in Naomi Novik's wonderful alternate history Temeraire series, parts of which I've been rereading recently. In this version of our history, dragon-riding aviators fight in the Napoleonic wars. These dragons are natural, not magical, beasts, which come in numerous different breeds. They're typically at least as intelligent as human beings but with distinctly draconic personalities. They have an amazing facility with languages; a newly hatched dragon fluently speaks the language (or languages) it heard while in the egg.

In rereading the first two books, I started wondering about the creatures' life cycles. Typically, in terms of reproduction and growth organisms fall into "r-selected" and "K-selected" types. (According to Wikipedia, however, this dichotomy is now thought to be oversimplified, since some species have aspects of both.) An r-selected species chooses quantity over quality—reproducing fast, bearing large numbers of offspring, typically providing minimal or short-term parental care, and hoping a few survive. A useful mnemonic reminds us that R equals "rapid." For example, bacteria, dandelions, and most insects and rodents. K-selected species have few, widely spaced offspring, prolonged childhoods, relatively long lives, and significant parental care. They also tend to be large. Typical K-selected animals include gorillas, elephants, whales, and us.

Novik's dragons look like a typical K-selected species. If not killed by violence or disease, they far outlive a human lifespan. They're huge, most subspecies considerably bigger than elephants. On the other hand, a dragonet hatches not only talking but walking and otherwise self-reliant. And they seem to grow to adult size in a year or so. How do their K-selected traits fit with the precocity and rapid growth? Well, human babies grow faster in the first year than at any other time of life, so there's some precedent to draw upon. And, as mentioned in the Wikipedia article, some creatures (redwood trees and sea turtles are mentioned) combine elements of both reproductive strategies. In addition, Novik's dragons have one other trait that could explain their precocity: They spend a very long time in the egg, sometimes up to six years. Presumably the maturation K-selected mammals undergo after birth happens to dragons between the laying and hatching of the egg.

That hypothesis satisfies me except for one question it raises. How does the eggshell hold enough nutrients to sustain such a long period of rapid growth? Since Novik's dragons are naturally evolved creatures, we can't invoke magic as an explanation. However, the detailed world-building in these novels and the delightful personality of the dragon Temeraire (seen through the viewpoint of his human partner, Captain Laurence, a naval officer drawn, at first reluctantly, into the corps of aviators) make suspension of disbelief smooth and enjoyable.

Here's a forum on Novik's website where fans discuss the biology of dragons, the physics of flight, and other aspects of this alternate Earth:

Questions About the Series

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Targeting a Readership Part 11 Futurology And Romance by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Targeting a Readership Part 11 
Futurology And Romance
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Previous Parts in this Targeting a Readership series on writing craft are listed here:

Today is Rosh Hashanah the New Year 5776, so I'm writing this in advance to be auto-posted by Blogger.  The general writing craft topic today is Futurology which is an element of Science Fiction, and of Romance which is a literary genre of eternal merit.

We are right in the middle of the month when the 5 Volume work on the Tarot based on 20 Blog Posts on writing craft is being released.  A 6th, single volume, containing all 5 volumes will be released last, but can be pre-ordered now.

Those twenty posts on Tarot Just For Writers are indexed here for free reading:

Here is the schedule and links to order or pre-order the Kindle-only editions as books.  The material is substantially revised.

The Not So Minor Arcana: Never Cross A Palm With Silver Aug 30, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Wands Sept. 1, 2015  99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Cups Sept. 11, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Swords  Sept. 17, 2015 99 cents

The Not So Minor Arcana: Pentacles  Sept. 21, 2015 99 cents

The readership targeted by these works is Intermediate Students of Tarot and Writing.  It's all about combining the mystical with the pragmatic, or "Love" with the "All" that it conquers.

This co-blog is titled Alien Romance because we focus first and foremost on the Romance novel genre, but with special attention to the admixtures with almost any other genre.

The major, envelope theme we deal with here is Love Conquers All.

In my everyday reality-life, I do generally see that theme working, though most people looking at what I'm looking at do not see it.

To learn to handle Point of View in writing craft, the principle to apply is, "That which we take for granted becomes invisible."  Characters never see the ordinary things in their lives, no matter how bizarre their world is from the point of view of the reader.  That blind spot makes Characters seem real to readers because readers know people like that -- but of course the reader herself is not at all like that.  

What the reader does not see is the core of "art."

The Talent that makes an "artist" is two-fold:

1) An artist can see what others do not
2) An artist can depict what the artist sees in such a way that those who do not see can glimpse what they were certain did not exist.

Here is the other big clue we have worked with throughout all the writing craft blog posts I've done here (search this blog for the tag "Tuesday" to find my posts) --


Just like singing, acting, stagecraft of any kind, writing is a performing art.

Writers don't write novels.  Writers PERFORM novels.

Novels have a structure, just like a symphony has a structure.  If a piece of music doesn't have the symphony structure, it is not a symphony.  "Novel" is defined by having one of several structures.

The structure the novel has determines the audience that will respond maximally to it.

The same story can be written in any of several different structures and with each structure that story will "reach" a different Readership.

Targeting a Readership is a matter of understanding which structure the readership you want to talk to prefers.  The structure does not matter to the writer trying to say something, except that the message won't "reach" the intended audience unless the writer chooses the most popular structure.

However, in publishing, structures change and shift with the wind.

So writers learn a structure, just as a pianist learns a Chopin piece.  Then the writer PERFORMS that piece, adding in their own interpretation, their body language, their emotional punch.

How does a writer create, define, distill, and express that emotional punch to a specifically chosen set of people?

Just as an artist looks at a scene, or a model posed against a background, selects certain brushes, certain pigments, certain bits of charcoal to sketch the perspective lines, a writer looks at the world, at what their readership is looking at out there in reality, sees something the readership generally is missing, and depicts that scene with the missing bits colored in.

The missing bits, the color, the suggestion of a figure hiding in the shadows of the drapes in the murder-mystery room as the body is discovered, are what the writer adds to the events "ripped from the headlines."

Then the writer "performs" the story that's been ripped out of the real world of the readership.

Another analogy is the stage play or opera.  All the productions may be using (almost) the same script, but each production is "mounted" differently.  Each director, each cast, each costume designer creates something new and different from that script.  So certain classic plays get mounted over and over, because those scripts were written to allow for other creative artists to reshape the performance, adding their own nuances for a specific intended audience.

To write a novel that lives from generation to generation, that is re-created over and over by other creative artists, the original writer must leave room, leave the texture open, to invite the readers in.

Now, this idea that writing is a performing art was taught to me by my first writing teacher, a professional writer named Alma Hill, whose workshop I joined when I was in 7th or 8th grade (yes, I'd already decided I wanted to be a science fiction writer, but I determined that I would do it or die trying only when I was 16.)

So I learned WRITING IS A PERFORMING ART when I was in elementary school, and that maxim has withstood the test of time, over and over again.  It is so incredibly true, so deep, and as difficult to understand and master as SHOW DON'T TELL.

Now I'm going to add my own extension to that maxim:  Reading Is A Performing Art.

That's another way of saying the well known observation: "The story the reader reads is not that story the writer wrote."

And in fact, that ambiguity is what writers strive for when performing a well known piece -- such as a classic Star Crossed Lovers novel.

Readers deem a book "good" if they create it for themselves, and during reading, discover something  they did not know.  The knowledge discovered is knowledge they already had but didn't know they had.  In other words, the writer only pointed out the shadowy figure behind the drapes, and the reader then saw that figure.

This artistic process of showing a customer what they hadn't noticed before is what makes a classic live from generation to generation.  It is delivering the Revelation that the customer already had and making it seem like new information.

It is already there in their world, in everyday life, but just is not noticed until an Artist points it out.

Transmission of that artist's vision happens by a process spiritually analogous to the physical process called "resonance."  When one Guitar string is plucked, and the other an octave away vibrates, that is energy transmission by resonance.  We are now moving to charging our portable devices such as cell phones by electromagnetic resonance -- induction is how those charging pads work.

Art works the same way to transmit the "Oh!!!  NOW I SEE!!!" revelatory moment to the art consumer.

You get that from songs -- popular music, folk music, classical music, dance music -- and stories, and stage plays, and opera, and movies, and TV Series, and oil paintings, and book covers, and Photoshopped images of the highly improbable.

So, our current culture does not see (is blind to) the concept that Love Conquers All.

Yet, at the end of June, 2015, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled 5-4 that all the states of the USA must marry Gay couples, and respect the marriage documentation from other states that marry Gay Couples.

That ruling came the day after the 6-3 ruling on Obamacare where dissenting Justice Scalia said that Obamacare is now actually SCOTUS-Care.

Most people (perhaps 75% of the US voting public) were completely oblivious to these Rulings in June when they came down.  Most didn't even know the cases were pending before the court.

Being aware of developments such as these two is the business of Artists.  Paying close attention to all the nuances, political jockeying for position, and forces moving large populations is the business of Science Fiction writers.

Understanding the invisible currents moving the visible pieces of our world around is the business of the Futurologist.

What is seen to be happening right now is important, but what is not seen by most observers is the commodity purveyed by Artists.

Artists, especially in the Performing Arts, acquire their stock-in-trade, the payload they deliver to their retail customers, by looking at what their retail customers are looking at, (SCOTUS decisions, for example) and seeing something their customers are not seeing.

This does the artist no professional good at all if the artist is unaware that their market has missed this shadow among the drapes.

So paying attention to what people know (Rasmussen Polls etc.), what they think and feel, and especially why they think and feel this and not that, is the business of the professional artist.

The professional performing artist makes their living selling people clues about what they are not-seeing, what they are missing.

The Professional Performing Artist must:
1) See something others don't see
2) Understand what others think they are seeing
3) Evaluate the difference in Vision between Artist and Customer
4) Generate an inductive current charging up the customer's night-vision-goggles

Right now, and very likely for the coming year, we have a heated, highly charged, argument going on between Heroic People Doing Good and Heroic People Doing Good.

Vast amounts of sheer human energy is pouring into achieving Good.

Both sides of this knock-down-drag-out fight are operating on the presumption that Love Conquers All.

Both sides are denying that Love Conquers All, one side more vociferously than the other.

And then there's all the people (maybe a third of the USA) who look at this with bewilderment, saying, "What are you guys fighting over?"

The Performing Artist's job is to reveal what is being fought over to those who can't see it.

Half the battle is already won with that particular readership.  They have a suspicion that they've missed something.  Many of them think the vicious fighting is over nothing-important.  Some think those suckered into fighting are just not very smart.  Others are bored by the conflict.

In previous series of posts on this blog, we've discussed in depth how Conflict is the Essence of Story, and how writers can "rip from the headlines" the raw material for dynamite best sellers.

As the SCOTUS-Care/Gay Marriage (even abortion figures in) issue erupts with volcanic fury, tearing the fabric of American Culture apart at the roots, the Performing Artist has a chance to make peace and strengthen that fabric.

At the same time, there are explosive issues coming in from abroad with the Middle East, Russia, China, (even Mexico, Central America, South America), and the U.N. all moving pieces of a huge puzzle.

By reading foreign sources for other angles on a given Event, writers can gain that perspective that allows creative Worldbuilding to flourish.  Find the truth behind Reality, step sideways into another reality where one of those Truths is not-True, and build a consistent world around that one difference.  That will give you a stage upon which to "mount" a powerful production of what seems an old-standard play.

All of these social issues have a deep connection to economic issues.  All of the corruption scandals have a tap-root into the social issues.  We are a Nation (and now a World) of one fabric.  Find the warp and woof, find the colored threads, find the design embroidered over that background, and depict what you see for your customer.

Here is an example of how to reduce this confusing mess to a simple principle you can use to charge your readers by induction.

Back in June, we got the SCOTUS ruling that the simple language of the Obamacare statue that said "established by the states" was actually "vague."  "Vague" is a legal term, and when a law is "vague" it is to be determined by non-elected regulators, by Elected executive branch officers (such as the President), and what they determine then becomes law.  That is an old, established principle.

SCOTUS ruled that clearly the Legislative Branch "intended" the Obamacare statute to function in such a way that those who had, hitherto, been unable to obtain healthcare could now have what everyone else takes for granted.

So SCOTUS upheld Obamacare (from its second major challenge) by saying the words, "by the states" didn't mean "by the states" because then the law wouldn't deliver healthcare to those it was intended to be delivered to.

Futurologists, accustomed to thinking 4 or even 5 moves ahead in Chess, will see that this ruling rewrites almost every law on the books in unpredictable ways.

But anyone living in today's world, especially those who do have decent access to healthcare, wants very much to share that wondrous marvel (modern science) with everyone.  Who would ever want to "deny" healthcare to anyone?

Providing for the least capable among us is our mandate from the provider of all, God.

So those who take their religion seriously have to be in favor of healthcare access for all.

Those who are convinced we're on our own regardless of whether God is real or not also want everyone to have access to healthcare -- for simple economic reasons.  The healthier you are the more productive you will be, even if you don't have a job.

Our economy was founded on Marriage.  A woman bore children, kept house, grew a vegetable garden, made things like clothing and blankets.  A man went out hunting, worked the fields, fought wars, defended the nation, founded companies, and decided national policy.

That's the old division of labor via sex-role.

The Futurologist can see the churn in our cultural base from the old division of labor along gender-based-rules to a new division of labor based on individual capability.

We have no advanced yet to the new position, and we have not left the old position behind.  We are in transition, and vacillating back and forth.  It is a dizzying confusion, and in one lifetime any individual may fight on various sides of this controversial process without understanding it as a thousand-year-transition-process.

Reveal the overall shape of the Division Of Labor Transition, and you'll have a best seller.

But you have to say something (make a thematic statement) that will "resonate" with the public.  That is the Performing Artist transmitting energy via Vision.

In the instance of a centuries long transition in Division of Labor, you can argue the justice of it on any side.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover Universe novels mix Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance, even Gay Romance, and militant Feminism with sciences and economics based on Psychic Abilities (telepathy, telekinesis, trans-location, teleportation, just about everything).

Those few families that have strong enough psychic abilities are required to use them for the benefit of all.  From one point of view, it is enslavement by the majority of the minority for the benefit of the majority.  The slaves are kept in well appointed gilded cages, given wealth, prominence, respect and total control of the government.  But a few of them see the enslavement for what it is.  Thus the series of novels is a running commentary on our modern life.

Read it, and write another commentary in your own universe.

Consider this idea.  Where once, being born female relegated you to child bearing rearing and housekeeping, supporting a man who did everything else, now being born female does not determine your career opportunities.  Likewise, being born male doesn't determine that you will be drafted into the armed services before or just after college.

In fact, being born a particular gender does not irrevocably determine the gender you will live out your life within.

Today, gender is not a determinant.

Does that mean the old, tribal based, hunter-gatherer gender-based division of labor for the sake of survival now does not operate at all?

Does that mean that Division of Labor as a social principle is gone?

Perhaps not.

Perhaps, what will become the main determinant of your career potential is your Intelligence or "Talent."

Smart people (or mechanically talented, or whatever talent) work and produce all the goods and services our civilization requires, just as ALL MALES once did, and everyone else does everything else that ALL FEMALES once did.

Thus the unintelligent who can't get a job or create a business and employ themselves will do the child rearing, housekeeping, sewing, gardening, cooking, cleaning, shopping.  The intelligent of whatever gender, or shifting-gender, will provide for them.

In other words, the concept we are using now of "Welfare State" -- as an economic model for "Income Redistribution" -- will shake out into a new kind of "Marriage" of the Intelligent to the "Not-so-intelligent" which turns out to be "male-to-female" only sometimes, and by accident?

The problem with Obamacare is not that it provides healthcare to the poor, but rather in how the project is funded.  Nobody objects to providing healthcare.  Everyone objects to having their hard-earned money snatched from them against their will.

America is a charitable nation.  But people don't want charity.  They want rights.

Women arbitrarily consigned to housekeeping by gender at birth (even if they had an I.Q. of 140 and were married to a man with an I.Q. of 90), knew that their work earned them rights, that at least half if not more than half what their man was paid was actually earned by the woman's work.  The woman's work turned the man's salary into clothing, food, children, and a well ordered house.  Every morning she sent her well-rested husband off to work with a packed lunch and not a qualm or worry about whether the household would run well in his absence.

The theory in the 1930's was that a man was paid twice what a woman was paid because a woman didn't have a family to support, but a man did.  In fact, being married was a criterion by which men were hired.  It showed stability.  It showed the man was supported so he would show up every day and pay attention to his work.  And with a family to support, a man would strive harder to get his job done right.

Today, about an equal percentage of men and women are in that "employed" worker position, or running their own businesses.

We are seeing issues developing in schools with children who have both parents working, or actually have only one parent at home.

Raising children is a full-time, hands-on, undivided attention job.  Women used to be consigned to that role whether they were suited to it or not.

People forget the reason the anti-abortion laws were abolished was that we had a huge crop of "unwanted children" (even within marriages that had kids already).  Thus a big push developed out of the Love that Conquers All to avoid unwanted births because so many of those rejected children grew up to be troubled adults.  Criminal behavior was ascribed to being "unwanted" at birth.

And there was a lot of attention paid to the plight of children whose mothers were not suited to raising children.  Just because you're female at birth doesn't mean you are good mother material.

So all factions of society united behind gaining control of reproduction, and now we have the phrase "reproductive rights."

The biological fact that women get pregnant and men do not is considered the root of the social concept called, "Division of Labor."

Today, that division is no longer along gender lines.

Thus Gay Marriage seems a perfectly reasonable idea.  Who can possibly object to Love?  It does conquer all.  We all know that.  Making Love illegal just smacks of pure evil.

Gender, it turns out, (via nomadic tribal division of labor by gender) is the root of our economy.

Again, the problem with Obamacare is not that it provides for the poor (or unemployed, those knocked out of paying jobs by automation, and the unemployable because of disabilities), but rather that the way it is funded disrupts our economy.

Marriage and Healthcare are the same issue, and that issue is Economics.

An Artist can reveal that connection among three huge pillars of our lives to those who have missed it.

Division of Labor by Gender is the foundation of our economy since time immemorial.

We are in transition to a division of labor system that is not based on Gender.  What it will be based on has yet to emerge.

Intelligence/Talent might be one choice.  If that is the choice this year (the whole redistribution of wealth concept is based on division of labor by intelligence, enslaving the capable minority to feed the incapable majority), then how long will that system endure and what will replace it?

Remember, the key to answering this question is LOVE CONQUERS ALL.

There is one other principle of reality largely neglected in generating possible solutions to the problem of technological innovation disqualifying the majority of humanity from productive work.

Remember we don't define "productive work" as including "women's work."

Here's the principle.
You can't do a Good Deed by doing something Wrong.

Or put another way, "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Writers can mine all headlines, and real-life-situations for Conflict to generate story and plot by applying that principle.

In the case of Obamacare, redefining the meaning of "state" to include the Federal Government is a "wrong" even though it was done in a determined fury to do a "right" thing (provide healthcare.)

We MUST provide healthcare -- nobody disagrees with that.  The current plan though is based on a bizarre system that only enriches the accountants and invites theft because there's no way to get all that accounting done properly.

In the case of Gay Marriage, redefining the meaning of Marriage redefines the entire "division of labor" based on biology.

We MUST allow Love to bond people together.  Because of the "liberation" of women to work a man's job for a man's salary and become the main "bread-winner," we have seen a "disintegration" of the traditional family structure.

Psychological studies prove that humans need bonding with other humans.

Arranged Marriages, Marriage for Romance, Marriage for social-climbing, all the variations, all result eventually (sometimes after decades) in a sort of Bonding that is beneficial despite being strife-filled.

The objective is the Bond itself -- the strife may be the cost, but the Bond stabilizes the personality.

How can we, as a society, deny that stabilization to people who happen to be born LBGT?

But on the other hand, is "Marriage" the word that has to be redefined?

What will "Marriage" mean in the future?

Why is the definition of marriage so important to the religious segment of the population?

Is "Marriage" about Love, Bonding, Division of Labor, Reproduction, Supporting a Worker, social status, -- or is it about some mystical issue on the level of the Immortal Soul?

Is redefining "Marriage" worth the social price?

Is there another solution?  Before you go looking for another solution, look at the definition of the problem a little longer.

Apply the principle, "You can't achieve something RIGHT by doing something WRONG."

The problem is defining what is right and what is wrong.

How we "see" the difference between right and wrong, and choose what deeds, events, and ideas go into which category has to do more with what we do not see, than what we see.

People form opinions about what is "right" and what is "wrong" based on what they see, and for the most part people get it correct based on what they see.

If you knew only what they know, you'd believe what they believe.

It is the Artist's job in the social structure to Reveal what is hidden in the shadows, what the average person just does not see and thus does not know.

Given a wider vision, most people would gradually change their classification of what is "right" and what is "wrong."

It's the Artist's job to create that larger canvass and illuminate the shadows behind the curtain.

To Target a Readership, the writer has to discern what a particular readership sees, and what they do not see.  Then show the entire picture, leaving the reader to answer the questions that new information suggests.

In the case of the connection between SCOTUS-Care and Marriage Equality, the questions revolve around where the fury of technology will lead humanity in our quest to re-define Division of Labor.

Good fiction asks questions.  Good fiction does not answer questions.

Find an issue that energizes you, has you jumping up and down and screaming red-faced, then write about that one issue -- and show don't tell how exactly love conquers all.

Just don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg