Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What Futurologists Do Part 2 - Futuristic Conflict In Romance

What Futurologists Do

Part 2

Futuristic Conflict In Romance


Jacqueline Lichtenberg

In What Futurologists Do Part 1, 
I presented the meme-quote from Carl Sagan's 1996 book The Demon-Haunted World.

He encapsulated a vision we must ponder because it is so close to the world we are currently living in and plunging beyond.

Sagan was known for his non-fiction, and certainly not for writing Romance novels.  But Science Fiction Romance -- romance between human and alien, or just plain Relationship between human and non-human -- is the main topic on this blog.  To blend the Science Fiction genre with the Romance genre, we have to know a little science, yes, but also a lot more about how scientists think.

Not, mind you, a lot more about WHAT scientists think, but rather about HOW the thinking is done.  Where do the conclusions we read in popular science articles come from?

One of the first things to consider, to habitually ask yourself, is, "What do they know that I don't know?"

And second most important habit for a writer tackling alien dialogue creation is, "What do I know that they don't know?"

What the writer knows that the aliens don't know is precisely what the reader knows that the Alien Characters don't know.

The results of focusing on these questions can be seen very clearly in the film, STARMAN.  The 1984 version starring Jeff Bridges is the one I'm talking about here.

With the B&W very early THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL film, you have the beginnings of Science Fiction Romance in the video industry.

The captivating, moving and eternally memorable aspect of these Alien Romance stories is the "learning curve" -- the encounter with something utterly alien yet somehow familiar.

Futurologists do this kind of thinking along the time-line rather than between planets.

But the question the writer is asking inside their own mind is the same whether it is catapulting a self-image into some future world or bringing an "alien" (from the future such as The Terminator, from the past such as Iceman, or from another planet such as Starman, osr both such as DOCTOR WHO) into the reader/viewer's present reality is always the same.

"What do I know that this (alien/time-traveler) does not know?"

This key question has an answer that lies in the reader/viewer's blind spot -- the psychological black hole that forms the center of consciousness.

A newborn baby comes into this world knowing nothing, learning a million things a second.  The votex at the center of our being from which our sense of "reality" comes, our sense of "right and wrong" and everything we judge acceptable or which must be exterminated is rooted in that big blind-spot at the center of consciousness.

Exploring that big, dark, churning mass of experience is often the main occupation of adulthood, especially for artists of all sorts.

But audiences are composed mostly of people who don't want to explore how they know what they know -- and in many cases, want to avoid knowing what they know that convinces them of the validity of their current opinions.

Challenging current opinions, boring into the black hole at the center of consciousness is the function of fiction in general, but especially of science fiction.

Fiction is an artistic, selective representation of reality.  Science is the organization of our tested knowledge about reality.

There is a contradiction between those two mental processes -- organizing facts and testing them vs. depicting the truth we associate with what we know.

Science vs. Art -- many assume they are mutually exclusive and one must necessarily be superior to the other.

Science Fiction is about the seamless blend, the harmonious unity of these two modes of thinking so that the reader is treated to a vision of how the world works when science and art blend perfectly.

Nowhere in the Literature of science fiction is this blend better illustrated than in the First Contact story.

That is the category that Starman belongs to.

There are many classic stories in this First Contact category -- one of my favorites is In Value Decieved by H. B. Fyfe, November 1950 Astounding.

It has the flavor of a Gordon R. Dickson story -- or one such as Lulungomeena
https://youtu.be/P5KSmPHqKcQ  -- YouTube audio of a Galaxy Magazine story done for Radio - X-Minus One.

Notice I'm citing items that have lived in memory of thousands of people for many decades.  Do you want to write a Classic science fiction romance?  Study the classics of the field that is just barely old enough to have classics!

These are all-time classics because they explore with a delicate probe and half-smile the sensitive depths of that black-hole at the center of the audience's mind, the one place we are most loath to explore.

Put it "out there" as "alien" and certain people will look at it willingly, and perhaps like and remember it because it allows them to access the depths of their own minds without shuddering.

What you know that the Alien does not know, and how the Alien reacts to learning what you know, teaches you about what what you know that you didn't know you knew and didn't want to know you knew!

Literature Professors often refer to the sensations this causes as Cognitive Dissonance.

In fiction, in Art, it can be induced in mild forms and be examined in a pleasurable context.

But in everyday reality, as Carl Sagan has indicated ...

...when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority;
-------------end quote-------

... factions are chipped off the social whole, the social fabric frays, or whatever metaphore makes sense to you -- when communication FAILS, and individuals have "lost the ability to set their own agendas" then emotion erupts.

It is incomprehensible how a member of society, how a citizen of the country you consider yourself a citizen of -- how the OTHERS you have always thought were "like me" can possibly think what they (seem to) think!

Such thoughts, and such thinking is so evil, so anti-life, so apallingly counter-survival that it is necessary to eradicate the thinker of such thoughts, to expunge the pollution from the social fabric.

The rejection of the "Other" is visceral, and the more virulent because at some point that person or people like them were considered "us."

It is the seminal Horror trope -- that which is killing you is inside you, eating your guts.  Yes, like cancer.

Sagan is talking about (what was to him) the future in which society is fractured by an inability to communicate about the highest levels in technology (Artificial Intelligence was purely fictional concept back then!), and the most abstract issues of social cohesiveness (such as race relations, gender pay-equality, and the proper role of government in civilization).

Each faction "knows" something with absolute certainty that the other factions don't know or could never believe (or don't want to believe).

This "knowledge" resides in that black hole at the center of being which gains its content in the first, pre-verbal years of life.

As Sagan notes, something drastic has changed and it is reflected in the media now relying on brief sound-bytes to "inform" the general public.

It is clear there is a "they" who knows things the "we" don't know.

Transmission of that knowledge from they to we -- or from we to they -- is just not happening.

All the factions seem to be talking different languages, chattering on about different topics, and when no listening is happening, the conclusion is reached that the "Other" must be irradicated.  At all costs.

This is the situation readers now live in -- the futurologist writer has to leap over this maelstrom and depict the situation that will prevail 30 or 50 years from now, perhaps a thousand or two years from now.

Science Fiction does not have to be futuristic.  It has to blend Science (the study and organization of our knowledge of physical reality) with Fiction (the study and organization of our knowledge of emotiional reality).

The classics of science fiction romance will be about "What do I know that this one does not know?"
And with the Romance genre angle completely blended in, the classics of our genre will be about, "How Do I Transmit What I Know?"

You can transmit what you know without knowing you know it -- all parents do that with their infants -- but you can't recognize successful transmission unless you actually know what you know.  Parents are always shocked when their three year old behaves the exact way the parents have behaved.

Children learn at a stupendous rate, but adults depend on what they have learned.

What do you know that your readers do not know? 

Your readers are adults -- so they learn more slowly.  Can you transmit your knowledge of human emotional reality to your readers by using agreed upon scientific facts?

Carl Sagan has pinpointed the crux of the conflict that drives all Romance, particularly science fiction romance in this modern era.

The plain lesson is that study and learning - not just of science, but of anything - are avoidable, even undesirable.
-----end quote--------

There is such a thing as "The Battle of the Sexes" -- and the battle is over "I know better than you!"

Put another way, the Battle is over whether what men "know" is true, or not.

Today, this is played out on the public stage by Conservative vs. Liberal -- "What I know is true is really true but what you blieve is true is actually false."

That is the core conflict of all Battle of the Sexes Romance novels - what I know is true but what you know is actually false.

As Sagan wrote, we don't want to study or learn what OTHERS think is true because that might call into question what we know.

Do we even know what we know?  And how do we know it?

In his non-fiction work, FUTURE SHOCK, Alvin Toffler explained as of the 1970's how the acceleration of acceleration of "change" in society was making change run so fast that the basic human organism can NOT adjust fast enough.

Humans are adaptable and adjustable as infants -- our genetics and epigenetics discoveries are showing how individualistic and adaptable humans are, and later how very slow to adapt in elder years.

Even in the 1970's, what older people knew (from the content of their Black Holes) had already become false or irrelevant in that decade.  Look how many who were adults in the 1970's did not adapt to the computer revolution of the 1980's.

What you KNOW is the enemy of your survival in a fast evolving world.

Even younger people are subject to this as their "black hole" was filled by yet older people.

There is a trend among Millennials to have their children later in life -- those children are being filled with OLDER truths.  The rate of change of this society may slow down because of that.

This human limit is the essential source of all Romantic Conflict.

Can "Love" conquer this aversion to study and learning?

That is an important question to explore in fiction, using all the social science and brain studies you can find because  studying and learning your spouse is the key to the Happily Ever After.

You can not agree to disagree -- therein lies misery ever after as the gulf of knowlege unshared grows ever wider with our accelerating rate of change.

Men must learn to look at the world through their woman's knowledge of truth, while women must understand the world through their man's understanding of facts.

Truth and facts should coincide, but due to black-hole-programing, they don't always quite make it.

The truth/fact dichotomy is the "All" that love must "Conquer."

Now the question is: "Does Conquering Actually Work?"

Does winning a war cause war to end?  If so, how come we still have wars?

With all our change, have we "progressed" or have we "regressed?"

Ponder the Battle of the Sexes.  Does the winner have a survival advantage?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 29, 2017

**it Happens. Or Doesn't.

In a week when Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world, David Gaughran writes of the perils of promoting your book more than Amazon thinks you should, in more places that Amazon thinks you should, and of making more sales in a short time than the behemoth's bots think you should and of getting rank stripped without recourse as a publishment for apparently "cheating".

As interesting as the original piece are the comments.  Especially fascinating is the exchange between the David and Kevin, who says that he used to do intelligence work against black hat operations and shares some insights into scammers and gamers of the KU system.

The musicians share a couple of really excellent videos (hosted on vimeo for obvious reasons) of a bearded musical songwriter type conversing with a Silicon Valley Goliath executive type to show the problems that copyright owners face in trying to use the DMCA to stop copyright infringement.

The Trichordist wonders why "librarians", or the American Library Association, are actively campaigning against individual authors having the right to sue alleged copyright infringers in small claims court.
Do genuine bricks-and-mortar public libraries infringe copyright?  I doubt it. Some online "subscription" libraries hosted behind privacy walls or in foreign countries appear to do so, but one doubts that they are members of the A.L.A.... especially the ones that post blurb claiming to respect the coyrights of the authors and not to host any files but only to redirect subscribers to where the files are actually hosted.

And now for something completely unrelated to copyright.

But, ours is a sedentary business, with hazards in the **IT department.

Happy reading! And write-on.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Microbiome Universe

Here's another article about the microscopic ecology inside our bodies:

Microbes Rule Your Health

The microbes that use us as a habitat outnumber our own cells by 1.3 to one. Many of them dwell in symbiosis with us and serve beneficial functions. Living in a state of complete sterility would not be good for most people. Jack Gilbert and Rob Knight, authors of DIRT IS GOOD, referenced in the article, explain why exposure to germs and other "impurities" in the environment strengthens our immune systems. Not only that, "Microbes in the gut talk to the brain." So it's to our advantage to encourage our "good" internal tenants to thrive and multiply, and the article mentions several ways to accomplish that goal.

This topic reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's novel A WIND IN THE DOOR, in which Meg and her companions become submicroscopic to enter the body of her critically ill brother, Charles Wallace. There they meet the farandolae, sapient creatures dwelling in the mitochondria of Charles's cells, to whom his body is a galaxy. Meg and these infinitesimal beings, whom she helps to heal, awaken to the interdependence of all things in the universe, from minute farandolae to distant stars.

Considering our microbial inhabitants along with other creatures we harbor, such as eyelash mites (I know, squick), an alien observer might think our main purpose for existence is to provide a home for trillions of smaller life forms. If our tiny tenants had intelligence and could communicate with us, what wisdom might they impart?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Futurologists Do Part 1

What Futurologists Do
Part 1
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

I found this highlighted image post on Twitter, posted by Brandon Morse ( @TheBrandonMorse) 

It is a quote from a book by Carl Sagan, titled The Demon-Haunted World and the post had amassed over 27,000 Likes.

Would you like to sell another 27,000 copies of your latest novel?

Study this quote, and note it was written before 1996 - travel back into history and study the previous 10 years Sagan had just lived through.

Think about what his world and the younger people in it seemed like, what they wanted and what they were willing to do to get what they wanted.

One more consideration -- think about what actions the 20-somethings of 1996 believed would cause the result they wanted.

Sagan is talking about a mis-match between how the currently emerging into power generation thinks the world works, and how it actually does work.

And by "the world" I mean physics-math-chemistry-spirituality.  Notice his disparaging remark about mysticism, which you might expect of Sagan.

By "the world" today most people mean politics, social justice, what the majority have the right to take from the rich minority - the 1%, and the loss of a distinction between a right and a privelege.

Now, sitting in the head of a futurist in 1996, look at 2016 -- a nice 20 year generational shift.

Note what information he had to work with, and what conclusions he drew.

Match his conclusions to the actual reality of 2017 (and pretty soon, 2018).

Now you are sitting in 2018 -- what does 2038 look like to you?

What can you write today that will be quoted on Twitter (or its successor) in 2039?

We are convinced Love Conquers All -- but we rarely consider what "all" there is to conquer.

We hear politicians adamantly affirming they "fight for you" -- for your rights, for the betterment of your life -- but they never say who they are fighting against or define precisely why that enemy of yours is out to destroy you, and why you can't defend yourself without their help.

And we continue to read novels about Love Conquers All -- most often without actually defining what there is that has to be conquered.

Write THE definitive novel about "the all" that must be conquered, define it, nail it, name it, and show its weakness, show how it can be conquered by Love.

Consider whether you are the enemy that must be conquered by love.

Look at what Sagan wrote -- he sketched an "all" that needs conquering by Love.  Consider how that can be done.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Copyright-Related Reading and Dirt

This week, a publisher wrote to authors about the dismal prospects for newbies and traditionally published "mid-list" authors.  "Mid-list" is probably a euphemism for everyone who is not a bestseller.

If commerce is about "supply and demand", the supply for digital versions of books is mind-boggling (just Google any title and author) but also, the internet and auction sites have made it possible for anyone to find a used paperback (and sometimes a "used" digital version) for less than a publisher or author can afford to sell a royalty-earning version. So, where is the demand for bricks and mortar store copies?

That publisher blames the economy, and Amazon. The publisher does not mention piracy, but piracy is ubiquitous and unstoppable.

For more, read the red-haired legal hero George Sevier of Gowling WLG on online infringement. It is a very good piece. You should look at it.

This author mentioned his hair hue because there is a vigorous debate online (in some quarters) about whether or not novelists should buck perception and make their heroes ginger.

But... Talking of Amazon....
Douglas Preston writes about an alarming "grey market" for books, and how and why authors "get zilch".


FWIW This author is a seller on Amazon, and the Amazon fees for selling an author's stash copy of a paperback are typically $4.24 (for Amazon) for a new, unread, untouched stash paperback copy advertised for $5.70 with free postage paid for by the author.  Or $4.14 for a new, never opened paperback being sold for $5.00 with free shipping.

Just for comparison/reference, I am also trying to sell a very rare, factory sealed Pocher Rolls Royce model kit for $1,085 and Amazon's fees would be $165 if I sold it, but even though no one else on Amazon has one to sell, Amazon shows the world that there are none available, and may never be available. You see, I don't pay Amazon $30 a month, so I will never get the "buy button".


I'll be taking it back to EBay within the week. (I do not consider this self-promo because no one reading an alien romance blog is likely to be a rare and outrageously expensive car kit enthusiast.)

I cannot imagine why this author identified this (below) as being one of the most interest copyright-related reading of the week. With hindsight, it seems pretty dry reading.


However, for authors who may not be absolutely convinced that their publisher submitted a best copy of their published work to the Library of Congress, it might be instructive bedtime reading. Or not!

Finally, some odd goings on behind the scenes at Facebook.

And the legal view of the matter from Peter S. Vogel of Gardere.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Value of Horror

"Horror Is Good for You (and Even Better for Your Kids)," according to Greg Ruth. I wish I'd had this article to show to my parents when I was a thirteen-year-old horror fanatic and aspiring writer, and they disapproved of my reading "that junk" (not that they'd have paid any attention):

Horror Is Good for You

Greg Ruth leads off with a tribute to Ray Bradbury, who was my own idol in my teens—based on his early works collected in such books as THE OCTOBER COUNTRY, full of shivery, deeply stirring, poetic stories. Here is Ruth's list of reasons in defense of horror's value for children. Read the article for his full explanation of each:

(1) Childhood is scary. (2) Power to the powerless. (3) Horror is ancient and real and can teach us much. (4) Horror confirms secret truths. (5) Sharing scary stories brings people together. (6) Hidden inside horror are the facts of life.

The article ends with, "The parents that find this so inappropriate are under the illusion that if they don’t ever let their kids know any of this stuff [the terrors of real life], they won’t have bad dreams or be afraid—not knowing that, tragically, they are just making them more vulnerable to fear. Let the kids follow their interests, but be a good guardian rather than an oppressive guard. Only adults are under the delusion that childhood is a fairy rainbow fantasy land: just let your kids lead on what they love, and you’ll be fine."

Stephen King's fiction often highlights the connection between childhood and the primal, timeless fears haunt the human species. Particularly in IT (which I recently saw the excellent new movie of), King's central theme focuses on the power of childhood's imagination, a wellspring not only of fear but of the strength to overcome it. The boy hero Mark in 'SALEM'S LOT realizes, "Death is when the monsters get you." In his nonfiction book DANSE MACABRE, King offers the opinion that all horror fiction is, at its root, a means of coming to terms with death.

Ruth's defense of horror reminds me of C. S. Lewis's comments, in "On Three Ways of Writing for Children," about the mistaken belief of some adults that fairy tales are too scary for children. Lewis says it's wrongheaded to try to protect children from the fact that they are "born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil." That would indeed be "escapism in the bad sense." He goes on, "Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. . . . And I think it possible that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing at all alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable. . . . if he is going to be frightened, I think it better that he should think of giants and dragons than merely of burglars. And I think St. George, or any bright champion in armour, is a better comforter than the idea of the police."

I might add that, in my opinion, the best supernatural horror (which is the type I mainly think of when contemplating the genre) has a numinous quality. In a secular age, human beings still crave something that transcends the mundane and merely physical. It's no accident that the Gothic novel was invented during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and the peak of the classic ghost story occurred during the industrialized, science-minded late Victorian era (along with a craze for seances and psychic research in real life). Ghosts, vampires, etc. feed our yearning for and curiosity about life beyond death, even if they frighten us at the same time.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Index To Posts About Or Involving Tarot by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Index To Posts About Or Involving Tarot
Jacqueline Lichtenberg 

Over time, I have talked about or referenced various esoteric disciplines such as Tarot and Astrology on this blog.  Below you will find a list of some of these posts where the references appear.

I did 20 posts on the Minor Arcana written as Tarot Just For Writers -- in other words, you don't have to "learn" Tarot to use it in characterization or plotting or worldbuilding, but you do have to understand "what" is being done when someone "reads" Tarot.

Here are the index posts to these 20 discussions of two of the four suits of the Minor Arcana:

Here is the index to 10 posts on the Suit of Pentacles

Here is the index to 10 posts on the Suit of Swords

These 20 posts are here for free reading, and also rewritten and incorporated into handy Kindle Books.  There are 5 volumes plus an Omnibus combination of all 5 which is cheaper than buying them individually.


The word Tarot and the word "Card" does not ever have to appear in a novel for worldbuilding to be rooted in and growing from the view of the universe that is behind what is behind Tarot.  You don't have to be able to "read" Tarot to use these concepts.  In fact, it is more authentic if you don't practice "reading."

Tarot is not about magic or power or making things in the world work the way you want them to.

It does not solve problems.

But Tarot is more closely related to the "the scientific view of the universe" than most people think -- wherein lies a vast number of dramatic themes.

Here is an index post to the discussions of how a writer can incorporate Astrology into theme-plot-Character integration without letting the reader know you know any Astrology or ever think of any of that.


Many more posts on writing craft technique and various review discussions of other writers' books use the posts on Tarot and Astrology to build further craft techniques.  Mastery of all these techniques is the goal of reading and discussing all these various topics.











Those are a few examples of gigantic topics that can be factored out and recombined into story material if you can learn to see the world through the eye of a different structure of the universe.

Some readers come to science fiction to have their view of reality challenged, changed, or even proven wrong.  Some people thrive on the excitement of being WRONG about everything they thought they believed.  Those people are ripe for becoming engrossed in a science fiction novel.

Science Fiction is not so much about "escape" from this ordinary world and your current life as it is about "entering" another world and learning to regard the bizarre place as ordinary.

Science fiction novels don't "teach" science or the facts of reality -- they inspire readers to learn science by taking them for a ride into a Character's life who does know and understand science.

Most people do understand Tarot and Astrology -- without ever knowing that those empirical sciences are the source of what they know.

This is a cultural mind-block -- and it is just the sort of mind-block that science fiction has specialized in clearing away.

There is a "science" (a rigorously organized body of peer-reviewed and tested knowledge) behind the view of the world presented by Tarot and Astrology.

That science is often referred to with the word "Kabbalah" -- but that word is as misused as the word "Tarot" -- having been sold to the public as a magical shortcut to power over the behavior of other people.  Or power over the world to bring you wealth, love, or whatever reward you crave.

If your source of definition for these words is rooted in someone trying to sell you something to fix your problems, then very likely you have no clue what these topics are really about.

And I can't say that I do know what they are "really" about because all I have discovered is how vast my ignorance is.  These 5 books on Tarot just for Writers don't tell you answers -- they just show what I've been doing to learn this view of the universe.  I'm a long way from being done learning.

That's why they call it a Path -- it goes somewhere, but without a map you can't even guess where.  It is well trodden - clearly others have trudged up this mountain of knowledge, but none of them are in sight.  Explore.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Writing With A Plank In My Eye....

The copyright agent countdown is on.

Websites and blogs that host user-generated "content" will lose their safe harbor protections under the DMCA this December, 2017, if they don't register their copyright agent.

Legal bloggers Carol Anne Been, Kate Hart, Monica B. Richman, and Tiffant Scwarz for the copyright team at Dentons law firm give fair warning that time is running out for bad actors and all-too-innocent actors as well.

To register your copyright agent, go here: https://dmca.copyright.gov/osp/login.html

For a Copyright Office offered tutorial, go here: https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/onlinesp/NPR/

As for that plank in my eye, I haven't registered the copyright agent for this alien romances blog. But, then,
Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Margaret L. Carter and Rowena Cherry don't host user-generated materials. I've noticed Blogspot sites that do appear to offer allegedly infringing content... such as pig8... and I allege that in good faith, because they appear to be publishing illegal links to copies of my works according to Blasty.co alerts.  They don't have a working copyright agent link or a DMCA link, or a Contact link.

2018 could be an interesting year for hosting sites.

For impoverished copyright owners, here's some advice from Scotland. "Sue here!" (That is, if your copyright-infringing Nemesis has a presence in Scotland.... an office, a site.) Suing a copyright infringer in Scotland costs GBP 300 (much less than $600.) Or so Buchan says.

Find out more from Robert Buchan of Brodies LLP.

A recent blog on THE HILL, makes the point that 84% of businesses in the entertainment industry (that would include musicians and authors) have fewer than ten employees. One wonders why successive governments claim to be supporters of small businesses, yet their actions support big Silicon Valley businesses.

Creative people need strong protection for their copyrights. If your State has elections this coming November, and you have an opportunity to put a flea in the ear of your candidates at a town hall, please do so. You might also write to your incumbents, to ask that NAFTA protects authors, and other entertainers.

Miranda Mulholland blogs about her theory that the Internet is responsible for a nose-dive (paraphrasing) in the quality of music and writing. It's because creators are under pressure to perform (write/create... not play!) faster, and they receive less income.

Quality work takes time...as Malcolm Gladwell proclaims.

 The countdown is also on for NaNoWriMo... the contest against oneself to get a first draft of a novel written entirely in the month of November. No worries if the quality is not there in the first draft. One can edit a volume of drivel. One cannot edit a blank page.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Villainous Motives

Supervillains generally aspire to destroy or conquer a realm, whether a country, a continent, the planet, or even an entire solar system or galaxy. In a kids' cartoon series current when our children were little (I don't remember which one it was), the league of villains had one goal, "to destroy the universe for their own gain." To me, a drive for conquest purely for the sake of power makes no more sense than that. Why would anybody bother? Who'd WANT to rule the world?

In the new Marvel TV series INHUMANS, there's a society of people with Inhuman powers living secretly on the moon. The antagonist, Maximus, stages a coup to depose his brother, the king, and become the ruler himself. Maximus has several plausible reasons for this goal: As a child, he wanted the kingship, while his brother, the destined heir, had no great desire for the crown. Maximus grew up without Inhuman powers, so others looked down on him; therefore, he's driven to seize power in compensation for his "inferiority." Also, he seems to hold a sincere belief that his brother's policies are bad for Inhuman society and his own rule would benefit their people.

A three-dimensional villain needs plausible motives, especially supervillains with fantastic powers and global or cosmic ambitions. According to an often-cited principle, every villain is the hero of his own story. Why would he or she want to conquer a country, a continent, or the world? A sheer maniacal lust for power isn't enough of a motive to make a credible antagonist. Maybe the character truly believes himself or herself to be the only one who can rule wisely for the good of the country or world. Maybe the character perceives an outside threat to his or her people and preemptively expands his or her dominion before the "threat" can strike first. Or perhaps the antagonist craves power in compensation for some personal hurt suffered in the past or from a secret fear of his or her own inadequacy. If the ruler of the "threatening" country or planet happens to be a relative of the antagonist (as many of the European royal families at the time of World War I were related through Queen Victoria), family jealousies and resentments could contribute to the villain's drive for conquest. On a smaller scale, why did the evil King Ahab (in the Bible) have a neighbor framed for a fictitious crime and executed in order to seize the neighbor's vineyard? Why would a king feel the need to commit such a petty theft? Could it be that Ahab did this BECAUSE he was king and, perhaps, feared for his position when constantly challenged by the prophet Elijah? Maybe Ahab wanted to prove, "I'm the king, so I can have anything I want."

To me, a drive to become a multimillionaire doesn't feel any more credible as a motive than a craving for absolute power. One person can usefully possess only a certain number of houses, cars, or boats. Even at the most rarefied levels of wealth, there has to be an upper limit to the amount one can spend on food, drink, clothes, jewelry, or collectibles. After a certain point, money probably becomes just a means of keeping score. Billionaire Roarke in J. D. Robb's Eve Dallas series—a good guy (although a former crook) rather than a villain—seems to enjoy acquiring more money on the scorekeeping principle, as a move in a game. Also, he does productive things with his wealth; when he buys a building or a company, he makes it better. Maybe a supervillain driven by a craving for money has personal reasons to value the "score" and therefore wouldn't be satisfied even by infinite wealth. Or maybe, deep inside, he's insecure, seeking wealth to make him feel safe, and never able to accumulate enough to fulfill that need. In effect, it comes back to using money as a means to power.

Along the same line, why do rich, powerful men sexually prey on their employees, when they could find any number of women who'd gladly welcome their advances without being forced? Probably because it's the display of power in itself these men crave. It's all incomprehensible to me, so to believe in a power-hungry villain of any kind, I need to know what underlying drive produces this kind of motivation.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Recommended Reading for 14 Year Old Girl

Recommended Reading for 14 Year Old Girl
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

I was asked by an old friend to recommend science fiction books for a 14 year old girl -- the child of a friend of theirs I had never met.

I have no idea what her favorite reading, TV or movies are, just that she recently got into science fiction.  I've no clue what got her interested!

Talk about a scatter-shot list!  Whee, I don't know where to start!

One clue is that she was interested in borrowing from the library - but she lives nowhere near me, and I've no clue what sort of library she has access to.  Or even what her reading proficiency level might be.

I don't know what restrictions her parents would want, either!

I don't know if she has library access to ebooks -- here, my library lends ebooks.  Some libraries provide books via the app KOBO in all the app stores.

So I am basically stumped on this request -- and will just toss out some suggestions using Amazon.

Once you locate a book on Amazon, you can usually find it on iTunes or B&N, KOBO or wherever you prefer to do business.

So top of my list these days, for series currently being published and reprinted:

Gini Koch's ALIEN series.

C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner Series (all of C. J. Cherryh's books, actually).

For pure action, space adventure with emphasis on science and sociology (with and without Aliens, mostly no sex or romance):

All of Jack McDevitt's novels

All of Taylor Anderson's DESTROYERMEN series.

All of Jack Campbell's LOST FLEET series, and the spinoff series.

All of Mike Shephard's Kris Longknife series (young woman changes the galaxy)

To fill in Historical Understanding of the Science Fiction Field:

The best place to get these backlist gems of times gone by
http://wildsidepress.com/  where you can get any ebook format, but on Amazon you can handily get the Kindle editions and paper edition if you prefer.  This is my current publisher, now publishing my new titles.

But here are some Amazon page links -- buy anything on these pages and it is likely Amazon will lead you to the rest especially if you buy any of my novels because my fans read from this collection, so all the good books turn up in "Customers who bought this also bought .."

Wrinkle In Time

All of Andre Norton's novels, but particularly Star Rangers

All of E. E. Doc Smith's Lensman Series

You can download the MEGAPACK for various authors for about $0.99.

For more non-Romance, general science fiction, well thought out and presented, read David Brin's books, David Gerrold's books,  Alan Dean Foster's books, and all the Robert J. Sawyer books, especially WWW trilogy.

For women of galactic consequence, the Honor Harrington series (like the Kris Longknife series) has taken the science fiction world by storm.

And of course, Robert A. Heinlein and Marion Zimmer Bradley, all titles.

That is a lifetime's worth of reading!

But wait!  There's more!

Here is my Amazon page with almost all my extant titled:


Scroll down to see various editions of all titles (several year's worth of reading).

For young women, I would recommend my first novel, House of Zeor.

For a Doctor Novel approach to science fiction, my first Award Winner, Unto Zeor, Forever, praised by Robert A. Heinlein by asking if I were in fact a physician!  And this novel was credited with being the first Science Fiction Romance published in Hardcover by a mainstream publisher.

For young teenage protagonists on adventure that changes their world:

But for Science Fiction Romance, my Romantic Times Award Winner, Dushau, would be the place to start. |But it is available (new) only in Kindle. The paperbacks have deteriorated, or are expensive collector's items.

For Vampire-Science-Fiction Romance:

For space-adventure-romance

And this is hardly a complete list of top recommendations.

The field is broad, deep, and rich.  Unfortunately, most public libraries do not have these novels or provide access to them, though my books were notorious as the most stolen from libraries across the country.  I know this because my readers have said so, and because many of my fans are librarians who have noticed this phenomenon.

I know that, as soon as I post this, I will think of dozens more authors to recommend!

The nice thing about Amazon is that once you buy or download for free any of the books by any of these writers, you will be led to others of comparable content.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Reputable Companies Don't Fund Piracy... Or Do They?

David Newhoff writes, "The majority of the ads on many sites are 'non-premium', which is a polite way of saying sleazy...."


It's an interesting, and encouraging article, and I think that you should read it.  However, today, I decided to check David Newhoff's premise before I shared it. (Which is why I am a little belated in posting.)

What does that tell you about Audi motors, Delta Dental, Weebly, Norton, and Serra Chevrolet?

Here's the kicker, the pirate site "cheapmybooks.co" appears to be sending every clicker to "download-geek.com" even if they try with great determination and persistence to click through to Serra Chevrolet, or Weebly, or Delta Dental, or Audi.

Isn't that possibly click-fraud? Judge for yourself. The url to one of my massively pirated books is

The DMCA link does not work, the "Contact Us" link does not work, so it is possible that the pirate site truly is undergoing maintenance.

In the course of this morning's research, I discovered that the firebaseapp is being used for a lot of piracy, as is Google Drive, and Google Docs.
Also Blogspot.http://mampfereien.blogspot.com/2017/05/read-online-full-knight-fork-by-rowena.html

For busy authors, and hasty would-be copyright infringers, don't overlook sites that use "Review" as a prefix for the title of a work. There may be a review, but the "DownLoad" or "Read Online" links may not go to the reviewer's opinion of the work's literary merits.

The Trichordist has some really gripping dirt this week. (I was going to go for alliteration, and write "riveting" dirt, but the mixed metaphor disturbed my pedantic soul.)



All the best!

Rowena Cherry
PS... screen shots.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Trusting the Experts

I'm rereading FOR HER OWN GOOD: TWO CENTURIES OF THE EXPERTS' ADVICE TO WOMEN, by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English (actually, the first edition, titled "150 Years of..."):

For Her Own Good

The book deconstructs medicine and psychology in particular, as one would expect, but also new disciplines such as "domestic science" (aka home economics, invented in the late nineteenth century). The venerable doctrine that overuse of the mind, especially in pursuit of "masculine" fields of study, ruined women's physical health and rendered them unfit for their natural purpose, reproduction, is only the most blatantly appalling of the now-discredited theories exposed in this historical survey.

The book serves as a reminder of how "science-based" recommendations offered to the public can change from century to century, decade to decade, and sometimes year to year. Around 1900, American housewives were encouraged to protect their families' health by obsessive cleaning in an attempt to make the home germ-free (an impossible goal in a normal household anyway). Nowadays, it has been discovered that an excessively clean environment in childhood promotes allergies. In the first half of the twentieth century, some doctors recommended smoking as a weight-loss strategy (as mentioned in Stephen King's novella "The Breathing Method"). In the same period, mothers were urged to put their babies on rigid schedules and told that picking up a baby between feedings or cuddling and playing with him or her would lead to all sorts of mental and moral ills. At the time of my first pregnancy, obstetricians badgered pregnant women to starve themselves into a weight gain of twenty pounds or less (not only almost impossible for most women but unhealthy). Eggs used to be considered evil because of their cholesterol content. Now we know dietary cholesterol has little or no direct effect on blood cholesterol; the main culprits are trans fats.

That's what we know now, at least. What guarantee do we have that the latest findings of modern science will remain THE authoritative truth instead of being superseded as many earlier truths have been? Yet the average layperson has to trust the experts, since she doesn't have the background to evaluate the research herself. (And then there are pseudo-scientific fads, which the Internet sometimes makes hard to distinguish from legitimate science.) The best we can do is exercise critical reading and thinking skills as we compare claims—which a liberal education is supposed to teach us to do, as mentioned in last week's blog post. Faith in the pronouncements of authorities is often scorned as a fallacious mode of thought, but we all accept authority as the basis for many of our beliefs. Even the most widely educated genius can't be an expert in everything.

I once came across mention of a story (don't know the author or title) in which the magicians of the world "came out" and revealed that all the alleged technological marvels of modern society were, in fact, created by magic. For many of us in relation to many fields of technology, "a wizard did it" would sound just as plausible as the scientific explanation.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Con Report - Westercon70 by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Con Report
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Over the July 4th weekend in 2017, I went to Westercon in Tempe, Arizona.

I expected to have a good time. Instead, I had a GREAT time.

I hung out in the Star Trek party suit, the Sime~Gen Party, the Con Suite, and was on a number of panels, and an autographing.

It was a busy weekend, but I managed to grab some phone-photos for our historical archives.

You can see some of them below.

Freebie Table

Hall outside Dealer's Romm

Hosts of Star Trek Party with Bjo Trimble GoH

At ongoing Star Trek Party

 Bjo Trimble and me (in blue and black)

Bjo, her husband, and our Party Host

Con Suite

Before Sime~Gen Party

Sime~Gen Party Hostesses

Sime~Gen Party Begins

On a Panel

The panel audience

Another panel

I kept forgetting to take pictures because I was having such a good time!

Jacqueline (happy) Lichtenberg

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Bad Behaviour In High Places

According to the DOJ,
"Thomas Jefferson wrote: 'The most sacred duty of government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.' This sacred duty remains the guiding principle for the women and men of the U.S. Department of Justice."

Maybe so. Maybe not so much so when it comes to equal and impartial justice for copyright owners, book authors, song writers, musicians, and other creative small businesspeople.

From Mountain View to Capitol Hill, from Menlo Park to the metaphorical foot of the Seattle Space Needle to the high buildings of the DOJ, to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, to the Library of Congress, there's rampant bad behavior that's gone virtually unnoticed for far too long (in this writer's humble opinion.)

Please read this week's selection of copyright-related works:

For the Authors Guild, Douglas Preston discusses how deeply embedded (even in the highest ranks of law makers, educators, and the judiciary) is the piratical idea that it is unseemly for writers to be paid; that books
are worth less than a bad cocktail; that the greatest disaster for American culture is the important book that is never written because publishing it does not make financial sense..


The Trichordist makes a similar point about the short songs that may never be written because writing them, and publishing them no longer makes financial sense.


Also, on the effect of copyright infringement on musicians' incomes since 1999,  even though music consumption is now at an all time high:


Here's a startling allegation. The government of the USA is like the governments of North Korea, China, Rwanda, and Vietnam. These are the only governments in the world that refuse to pay musicians for radio airplay.


Apparently, a prominent Chinese music executive quit his job, and opened a restaurant. When asked why, he explained, "When I make good roast duck, people pay and thank me. When I make good music, nobody pays me and some even ridicule me."


It seems that, if you are a creative person, the Senate is not your friend. From a copyright perspective, the American Senate is where good legislation goes to die.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry