Saturday, August 06, 2011

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Texas has had record hot temperature this summer, and we've been in a drought too, so I guess it's one for the record books. At least I hope this doesn't become the norm. I did my yard work early in the week, and to tell you the truth felt a bit of a sunstroke afterward, just sort of a headache. So the next day, I kept it pretty light and decided to go to the library. I found some pretty cool stuff there to, which I'll get to in a minute. The Tyler library is fine, but having lived in Odessa, I compare the two in my head at times. Both towns are comparatively the same size, around 95,000 people, and the libraries are similar in a lot of ways too. I think the Odessa library offered a little more. Both have public computers available, and for this day and age seems almost a necessity. Both have magazines that one can peruse, but I think the Odessa library had a far better selection. You'd think the Tyler library is hurting for funding in comparison. The Odessa library had Rolling Stone magazine, Consumer Reports, all sorts of art magazines, and the assorted newspapers too. Both have a pretty ample supply of DVDs and CDs to pick from, though I think Odessa's might overshadow Tyler's selection there too. What I found sort of interesting was that Odessa still offered quite a few video titles on VHS, whereas I'd think most libraries might have dumped this format. For whatever reason, I still have a VHS, so can still use that media, if I run across something that interest me. I even think Odessa had a bit bigger selection of books to choose from, but one of the bigger errors, I think, is that Odessa even had graphic novels, and Tyler doesn't have any (at least that I could find).

Some might not think graphic novels should not even be in a library, I'm sure some librarians still feel that comics, graphic novels and the like are juvenile, trashy items, and they should focus youngsters, teens, and children on prose. Although I don't get that snobbery. Heck if that's the basis, why have CDs, DVDs, magazines, or newspapers? No, I think if you have a child that's sort of adverse to reading in the first place, if you're going to hook him into the world of literature or reading, comics might be a good way to do that. Yes, they have artwork, but the stories are just as imaginative as any novel. I was amazed at some of the graphic novels that the Odessa library had. They had some Batman and Superman novels, Maus, some Sandman stuff, some Justice League, Conan, Fables, and so forth. But I have to give them top honors for handling The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman. The librarians there are either very progressive thinking, have read the books themselves, or read good criticism on the books. I'd think most librarians would dismiss the very idea of having a zombie book available, no less for children. I understand the attitude, I guess--rotting flesh, and zombies lumbering around wanting to devour the living, who have to blow their brains out just to survive in this nightmare-like world. Sounds grotesque for sure, but heck if you want to hook a young male (and probably a few females) give them something that they'll want to read. And believe me these books were always checked out.

Anyway, enough soapbox, while I was at the Tyler library as I said I ran across a few things. I checked out a book called Draw by James Reasoner. It's a book on the gunfighters of the American West, some of which I've heard of, but there's many here that I haven't. There was a western that came out not long ago, which I wondered if there was any truth in it, called The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. It was a pretty good western, sort of atmospheric in the way it was directed, but I wondered if the events in the film were similar to the history of what we knew about that gunfighter and his gang.

I also found some True West magazine to buy for a quarter, which I'd seen before, but honestly never really picked up or looked at. I thought I'd buy a few just to see what they were about. I also found a rock biography on Grace Slick, who was one of the lead singers of the Jefferson Airplane, which mutated into the Jefferson Starship later on. I never thought she had much of a vocal range (though she could belt out a song, and added nice harmonies sometimes), and I've read even she agrees on the matters of range as well. But I was more interested in reading about the time period, and about some of the other events surrounding the band, etc.

I also found a book on Isaac Asimov titled, Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters, edited by Stanley Asimov (his brother). The letters I wish had been longer, granted probably some editing probably would be needed, but as they are, they're scatter-shot on several subjects, and not very in depth. Still as a whole you do get a perspective on Asimov. For example, he talks about his most famous series, the Foundation trilogy, which were written in the 1940's, and then a gap of 30 years before he returned to them (expanding it into a series). In 1964 he stated that he would probably not return to the series as he was a more mature writer at the time in one of his letters, and presently enjoyed writing nonfiction. At the time he was writing a huge work on Shakespeare. However in 1982 due to his publishers insistence (being sort of forced) he returned to the series with Foundation's Edge (the fourth book of a tetralogy). It was his 262nd book, he was pretty darn prolific, and it became his first bestseller.

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Oddly enough, I hadn't thought about the movie, Fantastic Voyage, in some time. Asimov was approached to write the novel adaptation of the movie, which came out before the movie, but he didn't write the original story or screenplay. That said though, there's a letter where he describes some flawed logic, which he had inserted into the novelization, he inserted a half page of gobbledygook to make up for flaw in logic. It had something to do with the climax of the book/film where the miniaturized sub runs out of air. He got the idea to plug up a snorkel into the man's lung (as I remember from the film, he was a famous congressman). He realizes his logic is flawed: How much air can a submarine the size of a bacterium hold? The tiny micro sub would be smaller than an individual oxygen molecule. Basically he figures out that he would have to miniaturize the air as well, before it could be used. Ha, the problems with writing fiction.

Asimov also comments on other SF writers, like which SF writers are a few of his favorite ones, religion, politics, his parents, youth, and memories, traveling, fans, the business side of writing, and many other topics. So it looks like a fun read as well. It appears we won't be getting any break in the scorching temperatures in the immediate future. I guess the best thing to do is to grin and bear with it.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

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Part 2

Outside the dome the air was unbelievable–not stale with the scent of metallic. I’d never smelled anything that fresh, so pure. I’ve always been down below. Artificially born a slave drone, and born to die a captive. I continue my advance at a stead clip. In the distance I see mountains. The valley glows verdant all around me, and I walk in amazement as I hear odd birds chirping for the first time, odd sweet smells of the natural landscape engulf my senses. At first I don’t know what to make of it all checking my thoughts and wondering if it’s some aftershock of the bomb blast or possibly a delusion from some of the drugs they kept us on. The birdsongs were subtle, like a ringing in the ears of angels.

I look back behind me from time to time, making sure I’m not tailed. I see black smoke billowing from out of some of the domes. I hope some of my friends fared as well, and that my family weren’t hurt or killed in the revolt and the ensuing mayhem we’d mounted. The mooks in downbelow have mounted a posse. I can see as they saddle up their black steeds, something a cross between a horse and a hellion hound. They also have some form of hideous, shaggy cat-like animal, a bailtoff, but more like the size of a sabertooth to track the escapees. If you are lucky, they’ll find you before the bailtoff does. Otherwise, you’re dinner. I’d once read or was it merely something I half remembered or downloaded into my memory about a weak point under the neck of the beast? I pray it has an Achilles’ heel if ever I encounter one. I can’t recall, and for the moment I keep my thoughts on escape. How quickly the false bravado made while talking about this to friends fades now that I'm out and on my own.

It’s all mixed up now, my thoughts are just a chruning whirpool as I make my way across a plain of scrub brush, bits of tangled vegetation rips and claws at my exposed skin. I’m exhausted, but once I can get to the mountains, I hope to find a place I can hold up in, hide, and get a bit of rest. At any rate, one time, birth was different, not so sterile and detached. Family meant something. Not some artifice made up by some obscene gesture for exploiting. It was more natural. The natural world speaks of this as I trot, watching my footing as I go. I don’t need a sprained ankle now. I’ll have to get used to the idea of this new found freedom, and of being hunted. Something half remember though, makes me think it was more warm, carrying. I wonder how much of the past is passed down through genetics, and how much they erased. My intuition tells me that some of that is never extinguished. How could we lose something that sounds so radiant? The downloads to forbidden knowledge said it was detrimental to our species. Ain’t that a kick in the head? The world is mad, and I’ve got to deal with it all. The light in the sky glows blood orange. Is it on fire? Regrettably I wish I had learned more, gained more from their computers. I hunker down in a dark spot, and drink from a skin flask that I found in the store room. The water is a salvation. At least I have brought along a skin port. It doesn’t contain as much knowledge as a mainframe, but will at least provide some answers if needed. I do know this outside world cycles, when the fire in the sky goes down, I won’t be able to see as clearly, and it will harbor more dangers. God, I'm scared, I cap up the water skin, and move on. I really need to make it to the upper elevations, and then I’ll rest.

Monday, August 01, 2011

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(This is an early draft of a Sci-Fi story that I've been working on. I don't have it finished, but I thought I might put up what I have. If there are misspelled words, bad syntax, etc. well, I haven't gone over it with a fine toothed comb. It sort of has a few blemishes on it for now, and I work on it from time to time.)

Fear Itself by D.W.


Cracked out on ice, keeps going through my head. Addiction eases. Swoop...so the saying goes. I’m out, but not out of my head yet, but near there.

A guard comes by and checks on me. “Kennedy,” he bellows towards me, but he really doesn’t expect a response. I just nod, and look busy.

I’m busy in the repository for records. I act busy to easy his suspicion, and he goes about his check points. Take each day at a time. Small steps, but I’ll get there. The domes are a nightmare. Electro shock, drugs, torture, the deformed human enemies–what am I thinking, I’m not even full human, nobody is. We’re all supplementals–part human enhanced by machines. I’ve searched files that said it wasn’t always this way. I know they’re suspicious of me. I act meek though to fly under their radar. I’m basically self-educated, but undetected. I make sure I cover any of my electronic tracks on the computer grids. After I straighten up enough to fly under the mook’s radar, they allowed me more freedom. That’s when I started hacking into their computer and learning. A little at first, storing what I could in my cranial chips that I refitted myself. The chip implants I used as a storage, I also fitted a few friends to increase storage capacity. As hours pass I think of my wife, Janna and boy Nathan, that diverts my attention from grave matters that are about to happen to change this world. It calms me down so that I focus, as hard as that may be. Gradually, gradually. I’ll get there, freedom will prevail for me and my family under the domes. Hopefully that will come true for some of the other down dwellers as well, the ones I call friends.

A noon clarion bleeps and the first bomb goes off. It was nearly deafening when it explodes. Time twists out of joint, and I dry swallow a handful of pills. The ringing in my ears sets my head spinning, a ringing vertigo haze, and people and guards scattered like ants coming out of a disturbed mound. A guard comes around the corner and I clothesline him, knocking him sprawling to the ground. I grab his phaser, and crack him over the head with the butt of it. He’s out, and I scramble.

“Kennedy,” this way, yelled one of my co-workers. I turn around as I see him get shot in the back.

“Bastard scum,” I yell, and fire back that direction. As the second bomb goes off, it’s deafening. Nothing but a loud roar of white noise inside my head now. Deafening silence, and shadows moving in slomo. Two guards come round the corner, and I take cover inside a crevasse as they run past.

“He-yah,” I stand up and gun them in the backs. Another mook grabs me from behind, and I throw him over my head. One of the workers now has found a gun and starts shooting anything remotely looking like a Marveen. He gets shot, and falls towards me. I grab his body as a shield and run towards the exit sign. People are scrambling in all directions. Two mooks comes towards me, spraying plasm all over the area. The dead body takes the brunt of it, I crouch down and spring towards the first one. I head butt him in the nose, hear a crack, and blood sprays. He goes back into the other one’s chest, but another drone is on me, and I swipe my foot under him, tripping him to the floor. I gain a bit of time, and I’m running away. I hear others within the domed caverns, “He-yah, he-yah, for freedom!” They are yelling the battle cries. Faster, faster. Ahead I see smoke, debris, and chaos. I check my vitals on my wrist, my heart is pumping wildly about to explode, and I take to the shadows.

I stay close to the perimeter of the domes, and low. I grab a mook’s jacket and helmet to disguise myself. I try to avoid detection and for the most part, it works. When cornered I spray the area. In one light burst, oh my God, it flashes on me, I’ve taken out some of my own. Unintentional. What’s it called? Collateral damage. I say a prayer and move on. The guards have got their pets out now. They are clawing and mangling some of the workers. I hear the horrid screaming and cries. It sounds like a zoo burning down. I know though that I can’t do anything short of a few laser blast as my blaster needs recharging. Now’s not the time for sentimentality, if caught that would mean my head on a stick. That’s what happens to revolutionaries down here. This age is mad. I’ve got to save my skin until freed. I’ll come back for my family. It’s not a perfect plan, but what is?