Recommendation Tuesday – The Summer Bird and The Winter Wolf

The Summer Bird Cover The Winter Wolf Cover

Hello My Imaginary Friends.

I’m picky about my Fantasy novels except Urban-Fantasy which runs through my veins (No blood just Urban-Fantasy and coffee). As much as I love the “Magical Detective” clichés, I hate the “Farm boy / chosen one” clichés. I also find that a lot of fantasy authors embellish for embellishment’s sake.

S.M. Carrière finds a great balance between lush fantasy worlds and straight storytelling. I reviewed her first published full length novel last December.

The Winter Wolf

S.M. has written a series of Fantasy books called The Seraphimé Saga. I’m ashamed to admit, I haven’t read The Summer Bird but I did have my Nord Spy steal me a copy of The Winter Wolf.

Quick Review

A perfect blend of High Fantasy and Military Fantasy with a great big dollop of Shamanistic Magic. The author balances a fascinating world with a plethora of characters, each character with a satisfying journey and story. It’s a book that will run you through the gamut of emotions, from joy to sadness and everything in between.

I highly recommend you pick up this book.

Giveaway

image

The author is giving away a free Ebook version paperback through a Goodreads giveaway. Go check it out.

Availability

The book is in pre-release now and you can preorder it on the author’s website.

I’ve heard there will be some available at Can-Con and there will be a book release party near Halloween. I’ll let you know the details closer too.

 

What are you still doing here? Go preorder or get the first in the series.

Eric

Why I Write

I’ve realized that I never explained why I write. I’ve mentioned my love for stories and that I write because I love stories and not the other way around. But I’ve never told you wonderful people why I do it.

It’s not because I like Telling People

If you’ve met me in public you’d probably have no idea that I write. It’s not something I like to talk about with people. I’d much rather hear their story, I already know mine.

It’s just awkward to tell people something that feels so personal. And people usually make it even more uncomfortable.

I’ve encountered multiple different reactions but I can boil them down to five kinds of people. The Disbelievers, The Suggest-ers, the Critics, the Disinterested, and the Encouragers.

The Disbelievers

These are the people who just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that anyone would bother writing a book, let alone try to get it published. They’ll give you a confused look and say some variation on, “Oh why?” Or “I haven’t read much since high school”

They are generally nice but will classify you as odd and probably avoid you or try to forget about your weirdness.

I suggest leaving these folks alone or changing the topic to Game of Thrones.

The Suggest-ers

“Vampire books are really in right now.” Or “Have you considered self-publishing that’s where the money is.”

These are my second favourite type of people. They are generally well meaning and trying their best to help you out. They’ll tell you everything they know or read somewhere on facebook. They’ll offer to help and talk to their third cousin’s neice’s ex-fiancé for you.

The major downside is if they try to tell you about their novel idea that they think you’d be better at writing.

The best way to deal with them is know that they’re trying to be supportive. Try changing the topic to what they like to read.

The Critics

They just met you and really don’t care about your writing but they will tell you how horrible the state of fiction is right now. Nothing but crap and magical-teens. They’ll complain about everything.

If you’re really unlucky, you’ll get those who will criticise the industry as a whole and tell you that you’ll never be published because of such a reason etc.

It’s best to smile and nod until they get it out of their system, then go find someone to give you a hug.

The Disinterested

These are the people who ask you what your passions are only so they can tell you about theirs.

They are more interested in telling you about their book/idea/life than hearing anything about you. Heck once they’ve started talking, they might not notice you leaving.

Again it’s best to smile and nod, then find someone else to talk with.

The Encouragers.

These are people who will want to hear about what you’re saying, about your story, and about your life. They’ll let you talk and they’ll comment in the right places.

They will freak you out completely. They are the ones that will understand your pain when you get a rejection letter and not go, “Well Tolkien submitted LoTR blah times before…” They’ll know to give you a hug.

If you find them, treat them well, you’ve just met a rare specimen.

I don’t do it for the Money or Fame

Let’s be clear, the amount of people who make enough money to quit their jobs are the minority. If you think you should start writing because it’s an easy way to make cash, you’re going to be severely disappointed.

It takes years of practice, and years of patience to get enough money to cover your own costs. Brandon Sanderson said that it was bitter sweet to be nominated by the Hugo awards for “Best New Author” since he’d been writing, and trying to publish, for over a decade.

As for fame, if I’m never recognised in public, that’s ok with me.

The Real Reason I Write

I enjoy it.

Yes it’s that simple. I enjoy it.

Do I want to make a living with it? Absolutely, if you found something that you loved doing, wouldn’t you?

Will I stop because of my annoyance and dislike in the publishing industry? No.

I plan on writing as long as I enjoy it. Seeing as I’ve enjoyed it for most of my life I doubt it’ll change.

 

What’s your passion? Are you trying to turn it into a career?

Eric

The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Four

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

With a hissing voice, a human sized reptile riding a giant cyborg ape declared, “Felix Felicis, you are tried by the Sauran court and found guilty of crimes against time and space. Prepare to die.”

It was strange and frightening; especially the part where the lizard was pointing a machine gun at him, but it wasn’t as frightening to Felix as knowing that they had bombed his apartment.

“If they had been smart they’d have taken my brother or niece hostage,” Felix shook his head at the lizard’s poor planning skills.

“What about your sister in-law?” asked the now familiar voice of Miss Eris. Like an annoying itch he couldn’t reach, she was still following him. She must have walked up to stand next to him while he was gawping at the cyborg ape and its rider. He was amazed at how quietly and quickly she could move in her heels.

“I don’t have one,” Felix answered.

“Oh?” she asked.

“My brother has a husband not a wife. I have no sister in-law but I do have a brother in-law,” he answered curtly.

“Ok. What about him?”

“What about him?” Felix was confused, having already forgotten what he’d muttered. He turned to her, looking down into her green eyes. He couldn’t decide if she was being purposely obtuse or just annoyingly innocent.

“Why wouldn’t the Sauran kidnap your brother in-law?”

“He’s in Amsterdam for work and won’t be home for a few weeks. It would be highly inefficient for them to take him as a hostage. There would be little chance I would find out in time for them to get anything out of it.”

“Excuse me. I believe we were in the middle of something,” hissed the lizard.

“Ah yes, you were about to execute me,” Felix said, standing to face the strange creatures.

“That’s better, now stand still,” the lizard seemed quite pleased with itself.

“Felix, you can’t do this,” whispered Miss Eris.

“Trust me,” he half whispered, half sighed. Raising his voice he yelled, “Oh my god, watch out behind you. It’s a bear with sharks for arms.” Pointing behind the lizard he tried to look panicked.

There were a lot of things that irked Felix, but only one thing that he hated. Pranks were vile tricks played by bored or mischievous people. If he had yelled that out in a normal situation, he’d consider it a prank. Now he considered it a distraction.

The moment the lizard’s head turned, Felix started running. He turned into an alley and hoped the lizard hadn’t seen him. He’d never admit it but he was worried that Miss Eris would fall for the distraction. She didn’t and was magically keeping up with him as he ran down alleys.

It didn’t take long for his ruse to be discovered, however he was surprised that it wasn’t the lizard but the cyborg ape that noticed. In a loud booming British voice the ape yelled, “Poor sport, my good man” and took chase.

“So what’s the plan,” asked Miss Eris. She didn’t seem out of breath at all.

“Right now… Just run… and find someplace to hide. Good it’s chasing me…” he wasn’t being sarcastic. He’d rather that they chase him rather than stay and hurt his family.

“Do you want my suggestion?” How was she not out of breath?

“I was thinking the subway station, they can’t fit into there.” There were some screams as the large ape crushed fences.

“Why don’t we hide in the past?” she asked not having the decency to sweat. She could be having a polite conversation in an air-conditioned room for all she showed strain.

“Don’t be silly,” he snapped.

“Oh you think the future? No, no, the past is safer. Harder to get to.” With that she slapped his back and the world melted around him.

In total darkness he stopped running. He felt her warm hand on his shoulder and felt a little nauseated. Then the world came back in a flash. He was standing in the same alley and looking out into the street, only the street was filled with antique cars.

“See, isn’t that better?” Miss Eris asked chipperly. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, there was a loud clicking noise.

Felix recognized the noise from a few old movies he liked. They were the sound of guns being cocked.

Three men in nice pinstriped suits walked around the corner. Then another three came up behind them, “Mister Felicis, the boss wants to talk to ya. And don’t go trying no disappearing acts again. You won’t surprise us twice.” With that the rat faced man who spoke gestured at him with his gun to start walking.

“Much better,” he grumbled at Miss Eris.

Read Part 5

Writers aren’t their Characters, or their Plots

I read a news story last week and brushed it off as some sort of misunderstanding, prank, or click-bait. Today I saw another one. In short a man in Maryland was detained and forced to have a psychological evaluation, then suspended from teaching English in a grade school. All because he’d published a Science-Fiction book about the worst school shooting in America, he published this book under a pen name in 2010. This was before he was hired.

The police apparently closed down the school and swept it for guns and bombs, they did the same to his house. All despite the fact that he had no police record, had no red flags in his public records free for anyone to check, and didn’t have any firearms registered in his, or his alter ego’s, name.

This is by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

I will allow that maybe we don’t have the full story and there’s maybe something that we haven’t heard about yet but I wouldn’t be surprised that this is the whole story.

It reeks of a bad movie plot and is scary for anyone who’s ever written anything violent. It also makes you wonder if the fact that he’s African American has something to do with it. (It’s sad that this article makes a little more sence in a racial context. Really sad.)

The book looks like a bland YA mystery novel with some science fiction aspects thrown in. From what I’ve read it looks a little derivative but that’s still no reason to put a man in jail or the psych ward.

In high school I published several stories in the newspaper that were murder mysteries, written from the point of view of the murderer instead of the investigator. I thought it was clever. The worst that happened was one teacher asking me if I was ok and that she was willing to talk if I needed it. Who knows what would happen to me now.

If a writer is criminally responsible for writing something that makes the authorities worried, we’re about to live in a very bad world.

The idea that someone could be mentally unstable or violent because they wrote about it in fiction isn’t new but that doesn’t me its ok.

Fiction is supposed to be a safe way to explore our feelings and our world. It’s an exploration for both writer and reader. It’s a way to work through difficult themes and emotions. It’s no more a barometer for mental stability than the kind of cereal someone eats.

This kind of overreaction isn’t new. It often seems that in an effort to make everyone feel safe we’re attacking everything that may be dangerous.

It’s not a far jump from, “He wrote a book about school shootings, let’s investigate every part of his life and keep him away from the children,” to “He wrote about a banned subject, let’s throw him in jail for subversion of people.”

And it’s not just the “Man” or police. We live in a world where “SWATTING” is a thing. Sometimes my faith in humanity wavers.

What do you think? Was he violently investigated for being a writer, being African American, or is there something else going on?

Éric

Welcome to the Land of Everdome

Hello,

Some days I sit down to write a short story and then I blink and I have an intro chapter for a novel. That’s what happened on Monday. I looked and I had 300 words around 2pm and then suddenly I noticed it was 4pm and I had 2000. I love those kinds of days.

The idea came to me while watching The Quest. What if the contestants in a fantasy reality show discover they’ve actually been transported to another world? I’m fascinated by the little scenes that would lead to them realizing what’s going on. The end of the second act would either have a death or a serious injury to make them understand they’re playing for real.

Description

The world’s most popular video game, based off a fantasy book series, is being turned into a reality television show. Only twelve people are chosen but there’s something strange about the contestants. They aren’t the biggest, strongest, or prettiest. They are however all in love with the world.

As they go through the standard, often cheesy, reality television challenges they start to wonder if it is just a television show. How does the Queen get her elf ears on so seamlessly, how do the special effects for the Court Wizard work, why are the camera’s so well hidden, and most of all why do the banished players scream as they leave?

Point of View Characters

  • Abigail: Emotionally abused by ex-fiancée and still not over him. She’ll have to overcome her dependence on other people and her lack of faith in herself.
  • Pierre: A short thin man who boasts having the highest score in The Land of Everdome game. He’s completely out of his depth without technology and everyone wonders why he applied for the show.
  • Annie: Abigail’s younger sister who is the favourite to win with her years of experience working in a Renaissance fairs and theatre as a weapons instructor.
  • Nicole: At the age of 20 she is the youngest and has the longest police record. She never applied for the show but getting out of the country was probably a good idea after her last con went south. A consummate pretender, she isn’t in the game to win, she’s in to avoid the mob hitmen that will surely be looking for her.

Finally here’s the story I’ve written so far. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Story

Warning: Contains scenes of emotional and verbal abuse.

“Why the Hell is there a man in armour asking for you in the lobby?” yelled Patrick a little too loudly. He had already dressed and shaved.

The only reason Abigail could tell was from the colour differences and shiny reflection from his moist aftershave. Reaching over to the bedside table she put on her glasses and took a good look at her fiancé. He was dressed in a designer suit and looked like something from a magazine. Her own prince charming.

“Well?” he asked again. Even pouting he looked sexy.

Brushing back her mousy brown hair, she sat up and wondered why there would be a man in armour outside. It wasn’t a common occurrence in their downtown condo.

“I’ll go check,” she mumbled. She was not a morning person. She’d worked the late shift last night and Patrick had insisted they go out with some of his friends. She would have preferred to stay home and read but he’d insisted. She could never say no to him.

Getting out of bed she stumbled towards her hamper and reached into it to grab a half clean pair of jeans. They were the comfortable kind, not the pair that Patrick insisted she wear out but the kind that didn’t take ten minutes and a shoe horn to get into.

She was about to just put on a wonder woman tank top but she saw Patrick’s look and put on a proper bra before putting on the top.

As she rode the elevator down she looked into the mirrored wall and wondered what he saw in her. She was too short, too round, and her hair was as controllable as a rabid rous. Her skin was ambiguously brown and splotchy, her father had been native but she had no idea what her mother had been. She tried to put some sort of order in her paradoxically limp and curly hair and gave up when the elevator doors opened.

The knight wasn’t just in armour, he was in authentic chainmail and he wasn’t alone. There were two camera men and a photographer.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“Dame Abigail Montrose?” The knight asked in an authentic British accent.

“Yes,” she replied.

Without any delay the man fell to one knee and said, “My lady. It is my great honour to extend an invitation from Queen Tamora the sixth, to visit her in her kingdom Everdome.”

The expression on Abigail’s face transitioned from confusion to disbelief to shock and finally settled on excitement. All traces of sleepiness disappeared as she remembered what was going on.

“Oh my goddess, yes, yes, yes. Thank you.” She threw herself at the knight as he stood and hugged him tightly. “Thank you, thank you, Thank you” She squeed before letting him go.

“My Lady. Here is your invitation and all the information you need,” He was blushing and never once broke character. He gave her a large envelope with her name on it. It was pretty thick and she assumed it was the legal contracts and disclaimers she’d have to sign to be on the show.

The Land of Everdome, was the world’s most popular online videogame and was based off of a series of novels. Abigail had never played the game but she read the ten book series every year around her birthday. They were the last present her father had given her before he died.

At one point she’d considered playing the game but Patrick had flipped out, telling her that he was willing to put up with her childish obsessions but not to push him. That had ended that. He was probably right.

When they had announced a television series, Abigail had expected something along the lines of Game of Thrones. Instead they’d announced that it would be a reality show set in the world, using the characters in an original story where twelve people would vie for the honour of becoming the Champion of Everdome and fight against the evil Host, an all-powerful dark lord.

In one of the rare times that she’d been allowed to see her sister, Patrick had been away on business, they’d both applied for the show. Neither of them expected to be picked, they were fantasy nerds but neither of them played the game these shows only ever picked the most attractive contestants.

Inside the apartment, she walked to the bed and pulled out a piece of parchment from the envelope. It was aged and made to feel like leather. On it was an official invitation to Everdome and the Queen’s seal and signature. It was exact in every detail.

A chime made her look for her phone. Patrick was standing over her looking at her phone. “Your sister has sent you three texts. What does she mean by I’m in?” He’d never liked her sister. They were both strong willed and thought they knew what was best for her. She hated that they didn’t get along but Patrick knew best.

“Uhmm. Remember those books I love so much?” She suddenly felt really uncomfortable.

“Ever… whatever? What about them?”

“We’ll Annie and I applied to be on the TV show set in the world. Remember we talked about it?” She had told him about the show but he hadn’t been all that interested.

“Yeah I remember. I remember saying it was a waste of time, just like the game, and the books,” his voice was harsh. He softened as he said, “Abbi, you know I only want what’s best for you. These childish hobbies are distracting you from your studies. Don’t you want to be a nurse and do something good for the world? Something useful not wasteful?”

“Yes of course I do,” she replied her eyes on the ground.

Lifting her head gently she saw him smiling benevolently, he was so beautiful it hurt her to upset him. “Good then. Throw that stuff out and put these childish things away.” He left the room and came back with a large box. “I think it’s time for you to put these things in storage until we have children. You’re twenty-six, you’re not a child anymore.” He started taking down her books and putting them in the box. Her heart sank as he picked up her father’s books and placed them in the box. He was probably right. It was time she started living her life instead of wasting it.

“These are pretty old and you’ve read them a lot. Instead of putting them in storage, we’ll donate them. We don’t really want our children to have silly ideas. These are the kinds of books loser guys read in their parent’s basement.”

Conflicting emotions turned her stomach as she sat on her bed watching him prepare her books to be given away. Anger won out and she yelled, “No!”

“Glad you agree with me babe,” he said dismissively.

“No. I am not giving those away.”

“Don’t be childish. Of course you are.”

Blood pounded in her head and she couldn’t stop herself from shaking, “No. I’m not. And I’m going to this.” She lifted up the envelope. He turned red and dropped the box and the books.

“You will not talk to me like that. You were nothing before me. I know what’s best. Now throw out that letter.” He took a deep breath. “Look what you’ve done. You’ve made me angry. Do you think I like being the bag guy? No. But you have to grow up and put these things behind you. You’re not twelve anymore.”

A wave of guilt flowed through Abigail. He was right. None of their friends were into this, she was being childish. She picked up the envelope and a section caught her eye. “You were chosen from over 200,000 applicants across North-America.” Could they all be childish?

“No Patrick. Those books were given to me by my father. I’m keeping them and I really want to do this. I know you think it’s childish. And it might be. But I need to do this.” She stopped herself before adding please.

Turning to face her again, he seemed to calm down. He smiled at her but she knew that smile, she only saw it when he was so angry he became calm. It didn’t touch his eyes and made him look like a Bond villain. “Fine. If you want to do this, go ahead. But if you leave, don’t come back.” Without giving her the chance to answer, he grabbed his briefcase and left the apartment.

The sound of the door closing was like an explosion. The apartment they’d shared for two years suddenly seemed hostile and too quiet.

Again her phone beeped. Her sister wanted to know if she was ok.

“I’m fine. I got the invitation too. Wasn’t the knight cool?” she texted.

“Yeah. I can’t wait for us to go.” Her sister added a smiley face after the message.

“I can’t go,” she wrote back.

“Duck Patrick. You can do better,” The autocorrect on her sister’s phone had certainly edited that line. “This is Everdome. We’ve been dreaming about this since we were kids. Would you give up your childhood dream for a guy?”

“I’m sorry Annie. I can’t.”

“Ok. I’m not going without you big sis. If you won’t go. Neither will I.”

“No, no. One of us should go.”

“Talk about it over lunch?”

She agreed to meet her for lunch and they told each other they loved each other. As she put down her phone she felt her face was wet. She was crying, just like a child, she thought.

Without thinking she finished packing her books. Looking around she was hit by how little she felt attached to the things in the apartment. Other than the bookcase with her books and photos, everything was stark black and white modern. Patrick’s taste, not hers.

The apartment and Patrick had always made her feel safe, protected, and taken care of. She went to her closet and looked inside. There were a few superhero shirts that she was allowed to wear in the apartment but that was all. The rest of her clothes were all scrubs, formal wear, or her work uniforms, dress pants or skirt with a maroon polo shirt with “Paragraphs fine Books” embroidered on it. The formal wear that she wore to events or even to the grocery store, were always picked by Patrick. She had liked that, she hatted shopping for clothes.

Taking the geek shirts and putting them in a flowered suitcase with thoughts of putting them in storage with the books, she surprised herself by putting her uniforms and scrubs in the suitcase also. She was done her nursing classes, two months and she’d be a registered nurse. Then she could work a few years before they got pregnant and then she’d take care of their kids.

Throughout the process of packing she’d been shuffling the envelope from hand to hand. Looking down at her packed suitcase, she’d taken half the clothes, all her books, and her family pictures. She packed the suitcase and her conscious mind caught up with what was going on.

It seemed unthinkable to leave Patrick but once she made the decision she felt a weight off her shoulders. She couldn’t help but think about how angry he’d be but she had made up her mind.

Picking up her phone, packing its charger and her laptop, she texted her sister again. “I’m going. But can I stay with you until we leave?”

The Quest and The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Some days require more coffee than others. Feel free to quote me on that.

The Quest

500x281
A few weeks ago my brother recommended that I check out The Quest. I wasn’t all that interested at first but then I watched an episode.

Let’s just say that so far I’m loving it!

For those that don’t know, it’s a reality show with a scripted storyline, set in a fantasy world. The major reason I didn’t want to see it was my lack of faith in reality TV. I expected it to be filled with bad versions of fantasy with hammy actors and cut throat pretty people as contestants.

I was wrong. It seems everyone involved loves Fantasy and they’ve gone to great depths to make it awesome. The actors are great, the contestants are fantasy geeks.

It does like to spend time on drama and some of the challenges feel a little low budget but it’s a lot of fun.

I particularly like the Hag who lives in the woods. She really got into it.

Watch it on ABC in the US or CityTv in Canada.

Novel?

I have a bad habit of being inspired by things that I like. The Quest isn’t an exception.

While I watched, I wondered what if the cameras were hidden and the contestants started to wonder if it was real or not. Imagine the emotional effect of the end of second act realization that all the “Banished” characters were killed.

Think what it would mean for the characters who don’t understand it isn’t a game.

I really like this idea for a novel and I’ve even written a proof of concept for one of the characters. I was expecting it to be 500 words but it quickly ballooned to 2000.

I’ll post it on Thursday.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I was challenged and then challenged my wife.

For those of you who live under a rock, the challenge is to bring awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Charcot Disease).

It’s a terrifying degenerative disease that affects muscles. From what I understand your muscles slowly atrophy. It’s paralysing, painful, and those affected have a short life expectancy.

The challenge says that if you can, you should donate $10 to the cause if you’ve dumped a bucket of ice water on your head and $100 if you didn’t.

My video and my wife’s video.

Charity Drain

Last estimates see the challenge having raised over 80 million dollars.

Some people are saying that the success of the campaign has been stopping people from donating to other causes. I don’t want to be the reason that other causes suffer, so I’m encouraging those that can afford to donate to multiple charities at the same time.

I donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association in memory of my Mother who died of complications related to diabetes in 2008. I also donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of my Father who died of brain cancer in 2010.

I encourage those that can afford to donate to:

Even a little bit helps.

 

Would you join The Quest?

Have you or someone you love been affected by ALS?

 

Thank you,

Eric

Pluto isn’t a Planet and that’s ok.

One would assume that a generation that grew up in the age of the internet would be flexible and able to adapt to the changes in our world. One would be terribly wrong. From a new Companion on Doctor Who to getting rid of the penny, our generation seems hobbled by nostalgia. The same nostalgia that makes sure Michael Bay has a career.

Go find yourself someone between the ages of 20 and 35 and ask them their opinion on Pluto. You’ll get an earful of sadness for its “Demotion” from a planet.

So What Happened?

Pluto was discovered back in 1930. At the time it was the only other planetary body, after the first 8, we could find. Telescopes improved and we eventually found new objects that looked and acted like Pluto. We even found that some of the objects we thought were asteroids in the asteroid belt looked and acted like Pluto.

In 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) needed to figure out what constituted a planet. They had 3 possible “new planets” (Eris, Charon, and Ceres) and weren’t sure what to do.

They drafted a proposal for what a planet was and it would have seen our solar system have 12-24 planets, in the short term.

Here’s what they defined as a planet in the first draft: “A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet.”

Astronomers estimated that as we observed more of our solar system we’d find that there are over 200 astronomical bodies that fit this description.

The definition went through several drafts and they finally decided on the following as a definition:

The IAU…resolves that planets and other bodies, except satellites, in the Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A planet [1] is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A “dwarf planet” is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape [2], (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects [3], except satellites, orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as “Small Solar System Bodies”.[note 1]

Footnotes:

[1] The eight planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

[2] An IAU process will be established to assign borderline objects into either dwarf planet and other categories.

[3] These currently include most of the Solar System asteroids, most Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), comets, and other small bodies.

The definition is pretty vague and is hotly contested among astronomers. For the moment it’s what we have.

Pluto 🙁

This new definition meant that Pluto was no longer a Planet but now a Dwarf planet.

This has prompted endless sad Pluto images and t-shirts. poor-pluto

Pluto now has friends

I’m tempted to say, “Things change get over it!” But that would be me being mean.

Instead let’s reflect on how Pluto used to be the odd one out. Not really an earthy planet not a gas planet. It was like that one Star Trek nerd in a group of Star Wars nerd (trust me this was a big thing 10-20 years ago). But now it’s part of the Dwarf planets and has friends that are the same. Instead of thinking of Pluto being separated from his previous friends, think of it as being allowed to hang out with new friends.

The confirmed Dwarf Planets Friends of Pluto are: Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.

Pluto is such a good host that there are another 6 Trans-Neptunian Objects, trying to join its club.

There’s even a sub-category of Trans-Neptunian Objects called Plutinos which are in orbital resonances with Neptune, as seen from the current satellite images. I call these its family.

In Conclusion

Don’t think of Pluto becoming a Dwarf Planet as it being excluded from the Planet Club but think of it as becoming the president of the Dwarf Planet Club.

Did you take the reclassification of Pluto personally?

P.S. Kind advise for you: visit Family Funtures for buying nice home telescope, if you like space as I do!:)

Éric

Technogedon?

Hello,

I watched a video that, I think, was meant to scare me but instead it confused me. Not its message but its lack of solutions. Here’s the video.

But Eric I don’t want to watch the 15 minute video

Fair enough. Here’s a quick explanation on what you’ll see. The human world is on the precipice of a revolution the likes we’ve never seen. Robots and robotics are at a level that they’re either affordable enough or close to affordable enough, to replace 25% of the workforce.

They talk about four tiers of work and how they can be replaced with robots or machinery of somesort. The biggest being transportation. Self-driving cars are already better at driving then all but the best human drivers. Then there’s retail which has had things like automatic checkouts and online shopping for years.

They go on to talk about computer programs, which they call bots in order to be thematic, which can effectively fill in reports and replace most paper pushers.

They then talk about Watson, a self-teaching computer, that is attempting to create the best possible doctor replacement program.

The last is a vague attempt to tell us that creativity isn’t solely a human trait and we are working on robots that can do the same things we can.

The moral seems to be that change is inevitable and that we are completely unprepared for the robots taking our jobs.

It’s important to know that all this technology exists and it’s not science fiction, or speculation.

Technophobia?

The first reaction I had to this was, “OH DEITY! OH DEITY! We’re all going to die.” Totally reasonable right? Well not really. All this technology exists and is getting cheaper and easier to use and may replace all the jobs mentioned. That’s what it is, by the way: Technology, not bots nor robots etc. Your vending machine is a machine, not a robot.

The Oxford English Dictionary says a robot is “A central European system of serfdom, by which a tenant’s rent was paid in forced labour or service”… Oops wrong one. It says a robot is: “An intelligent artificial being typically made of metal and resembling in some way a human or other animal”.

So no, robots are not rising or trying to destroy us. Yet!?

But my Job

The technology may exist but there are two things you need to remember about them “taking” your jobs.

The first is simply fear. People are slow to adopt new technology. It takes time. Think about electric cars, they are completely usable and not to much more expensive but it’s taking a long time for people to adopt them. Same will happen with self-driving cars, unfortunately. As a person without a license, I’d love a self-driving car. As for the rest of the technology, it will take longer to get rid of retail employees only because most people prefer to buy from a person. Especially large or vanity items.

The second is stupidity. Machines are only as smart as their programing. There are some self-programing machines out there but they’re expensive and difficult to make. Anyone who’s tried to use speech-to-text software, or tried to use website autobuilding software knows that it’s not as simple as it seems.

Between fear and stupidity, it’ll be a while before we see robots replacing most jobs.

However, if you’re a Pay Phone repair man, you might look into another vocation.

What about when it does happen

Some jobs will disappear. That’s natural, I haven’t seen a town crier in a while.

The video is right, we’re not ready and I don’t think we should be. Technology changes quickly, and occasionally we adopt technology faster than normal, like cell phones. Trying to guess what the next big boom will be and where it’ll come from is fun but not worth serious effort.

It will happen, jobs will be automated, and people will lose their jobs. I think the first and hardest hit will be transportation probably in the next 25 years. But that industry is also going to need to change anyways due to Climate Change and evolving technology.

If it happens as quickly as the video (fear mongers) suggests, it would have devastating consequences on the world economy. If a quarter of the developed world’s population lost their jobs, the economy would screech to a standstill and that technology would become too expensive to upkeep and after a hard couple of horrible decades we’d find a balance. (yay uplifting!)

Ok, but what can I do?

Enjoy your job while you have it. Unless you want to become one of those survivalist nuts that have a bomb shelter in the woods with years of supplies etc, there’s no way for you to tell what will go first.

I’d assume the safest jobs would be in hard sciences, engineering, or leisure. They’ll be the last ones fully replaced. If you’re super terrified become a Physicist, Engineer, or Party Planner. Could be an interesting unified field theory.

Bottom Line

Hehehehe, Bottom!

Seriously, though. If you can think of a good way to help 45% of the population losing their jobs, tell someone. No, tell everyone!

Do you have a plan for when technology makes your job obsolete?

Eric

Related: Speedy Locksmith in Boulder CO.

Parasnomnia Draft 1 is done. Time to Party?

Hello,

So as the title says I’m finally done draft 1 of Parasomnia. This is the biggest novel I’ve written so far at just under 100,000 words (I hear my Fantasy writer friends laughing.)

It’s such a relief to be done. The last third of any novel is always massively stressful. Even though I know I can do it, there’s a tiny voice in the back of my head that says it’s ok to quit, nobody care about the book, I’m not a good enough writer yet for this idea. I’ve managed to ignore that voice 5 times now and when I write those last few words I’m always awash with relief.

Of course it’s not really done. In late October or November, I’ll pick it up and do a thorough rewrite and edit. The first chapter sucks. I thought I was writing a police procedural at the time and it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story. Also I think I’ve changed characters names throughout the book. I also need to add some foreshadowing.

Once the second draft is done, I’ll send it to the weditor and then do another cleanup. Once that’s done I’ll send it to Beta Reader 1, whoever that will be, and then Beta reader 2 (which I need to find).

The thing about writing, you’re never done. I might have finished this book but I have a list somewhere of several dozen book ideas, not to mention I’ve plotted out the next 6 Elizabeth Investigates books.

I like to write at work, when I have down time. Currently out of four people in my section, two are retiring and one is going back to school. As of October I’ll be doing the work of 4 people. Yikes. For that reason, I’m not jumping into another novel.

I do have a few stories planed and I’m getting close to play testing FADDS.

All in all things are looking good.

Is there anything you’ve read on my blog that you’d like to see expanded or turned into a novel?

Éric