DNA, Facial Recognition, and Notre Dame

I’ve been a writer for 18 months. Where’s my novel? You faithful blog followers deserve an explanation! While my novels are still a future dream, that doesn’t mean I’m idle. Read on to hear about my short stories, poetry, and topics I monitor for future story ideas.

Rogan’s Drone and Sam McGee

I’ve been creating short stories to develop my storytelling skills.

In my current front-burner writing project, a virus-infected stray drone helps a withdrawn teenager learn about friendship. I currently have Rogan’s Drone out to beta readers and will submit it for publication in the 2020 RMFW Anthology. (The anthology’s theme is “Wild”. What could be wilder than violent stray drones terrorizing an Iowa farm? My critique partners think I’ve watched too much Hitchcock.)

I hope to submit a second story to the anthology, an SF short story based on Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee. If you’re not familiar with this wonderful and horrific poem with a humorous twist, read it. I’m not yet ready to share the story’s details, but perhaps in a future update.

The Thompson River

I’m pleased to announce that I received my first recognition as a writer.

Northern Colorado’s Big Thompson River inspired my poem, The Thompson River Flows, which won the 2018 National Braille Press poetry contest.

“If You Want to Keep a Secret…

…you must also hide it from yourself.” But it’s a challenge to implement George Orwell’s privacy maxim in a world where anyone can identify you and track your location for $60. Widespread use of facial recognition is a given for any contemporary or near-future SF stories—either as a societal backdrop or central theme.

Editing the Human Genome

“Soon it will be a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease.” – Robert Edwards

The most challenging aspect of writing a DNA editing story is keeping ahead of the technology.

If you don’t think the technology is moving fast enough, you can always hack DNA yourself.

We’ve seen only a glimpse of this technology and its possible fruits and perils, leaving many opportunities for SF stories.

Patented DNA seems wholly unexplored in current SF (please flame me in the comments with author and title of any contradicting publications). The 2013 Bowman v. Monsanto Co. US Supreme Court ruling set a precedent regarding seeds created from previous generations of patented seed stock. This has significant ramifications for children of humans with patented germ-line edits, and might be a theme for a future story of novel-length work.

How Big is an Orange on the Moon?

The only thing more fascinating than the recent image of a black hole’s event horizon was the technology employed to obtain it. Please tell me I’m not the only math nerd that needed to know the angular resolution of a telescope capable of seeing an orange on the Moon.

If I recall my trigonometry correctly, we need the inverse tangent of the diameter of an orange divided by the distance to the Moon. Let’s work in meters. The diameter of an orange is 0.085m, and the distance to the Moon is 364,000,000m. The inverse tangent of that ratio is quite small: 0.000000013379509 degrees.

Whew. Now I can sleep at night.

Amputation de l’Âme

The tragic Notre Dame fire felt like we had amputated the very core of our soul.

It might seem tactless to discuss web accessibility in this context, but I must commend the New York Times on their excellent explanation of the fire. The presentation uses 3D graphics to visually illustrate the conflagration. At the same time, visually impaired readers can still enjoy the overlay caption text using a screen reader. This sets a high bar for web accessibility.

RMFW Education Event

Writing a novel-length work requires grokking and refining many new skills. The publication process only steepens the learning curve. Fortunately, I got my brain fed at the 2019 RMFW Education Event, a workshop intended to guide new authors through the publishing process.

Billed as a “book in a day”, this workshop covered preparing a manuscript for publication, working with literary agents and publishers, and tips for self-marketing. The presenters were intelligent, informative, and friendly, and I met and chatted with many new writers in every genre imaginable.

Butt in the Chair

Posting an update seemed somewhat vain, but was a good exercise for me to see where I’m at. Expect another update over the summer. Until then, keep your butt in the chair.

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