The science fact behind the fiction

When I tell people I write but don’t read science fiction, they either think I’m lying, stupid or insane. The fact is, reading is to me synonymous with work, and while I enjoy doing what I do for a living, as a task, reading isn’t one of those things I enjoy.

So when I read science fiction and come across mention of rocket ships, or talk of clunky robots with tubular arms in the 23rd century I just switch off, because without authenticity or an attempt to explain why such incongruities or implausibilities should be believed, my ability to suspend disbelief is, quite frankly, severely impaired.

While I’m not looking for validation or vindication, it’s always helpful to know others agree with me, to help formulate a sturdy defence — a defence, ironically enough, coming from another science fiction writer:

“I work with a lot of scientists and one of the frustrating things they find is that all this fascinating stuff is being done which doesn’t find its way into science fiction. They say look at the science fact pages – they’re so much more imaginative than science fiction.”

Just like the science colleagues of Geoff Ryman suggest, I read huge amounts of science fact, and that’s the only fuel I need power my own person “What if?” engine.

Project Status — Lucidity

Okay, I sprung this one out of nowhere, but Lucidity has been on my mind for quite some time, honest!

I’ve written the first draft and sent copies off to friends for an examination. Also, because the principle characters are German, I’ve been in contact with a German acquaintance to ensure the cultural references and dialogue are consistent.

Just so you know, Lucidity is another novella, though less than half the length of Earth Day. Anyway, here’s the synopsis…

On the verge of a major breakthrough in sleep therapy, Barbara Ostermann, an expert in disruptive sleep disorders, uncovers a remarkable conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of her work and that of her colleagues, Martin — her occasional lover — and Anna — the gregarious though disillusioned young prodigy, who team up to help avert an international crisis.

Enlisting the help of her brother, Karl, they seek to disentangle this hidden and secretive plot to assassinate the elusive and mercurial DeShaun Gates, a strident campaigner for racial equality, on a collision course with the authorities.

Tireless in his effort, Karl finds himself in New York, where events are not as they appear, and his dream of averting disaster skims along the abyssal of a monumental nightmare.

Google make a spectacle of augmenting reality

Google have released a preview of Project Glass and a glimpse into a world where they see people wearing spectacles designed to specifically make use of augmented reality.

Sound familiar? Maybe not to you, but to me, it’s nothing new or particularly ground breaking, as it’s something I wrote about many years ago, which I dubbed “pre-vision” because no one had yet coined the aforementioned phrase:

“Truly useful technology is often passive, working away tirelessly, doing whatever is required to be done, to be invoked at a time of our choosing.

An example of persistently good passive technology — both from a solutions and an ergonomic point of view — would be a pair of spectacles. These things have been around for centuries and their design has varied little, the same being true of our facial physiology, to which spectacles are specifically designed for.

Our view of the world is always a sensorial affair, but our world is predominantly defined by our view of things, in a very literal sense, which makes these remarkable gadget glasses so appropriate.”

More recently, I included my take on the technology in A Darkening of Fortune, my next science fiction crime thriller:

“Those from the affluent parts of Asia are often the most distinctive, as many would be seen wearing spectacles, though not for opthalmic relief, but as an aide to their viewing pleasure, supplanting hand-held devices and supplementing their vision. They instead see the always-on digitally augmented brave new world, an enriched sprawl of virtual overlaying the real, as street performers walk through imaginary rooms made visible, which slide about their bodies as if they were the centre of motion, and interactive banner adverts, hanging the length of buildings, billowing in the wind, with children jumping up to touch them, just to see the cartoon characters chase each other up the immaterial fabric, laughing as they go, advertising the culinary delights found within one of the many Asian restaurants.

A young girl ushers her friends into a giggling huddle as she stands before them, and with the thumb of one hand to the forefinger of the other, she makes a landscape frame in front of her, and with a blink, she takes a photograph. A human gesture, when observed by the ever vigilant gaze of technology, is empowered in a myriad ways these days.”

Welcome to an alternate, virtually real world…