In Which Sight Remains Unseen, or, Not Peering Into The Untemperted Schism

•June 20, 2011 • 1 Comment

I’ve never seen things the way others do. Now now, don’t go getting deep on me. Weak eyes, then glasses, a cavalcade of crappy monitors and computers, shitty internet connections, all these things have impeded my vision and how I see things over the years.

Make no mistake – I fucking hate my glasses.

Do they make life livable? Yes. But they still change things. You can have the best glasses in the world, and you just don’t see the way normal people do. Your vision is a little bit away from your face. I’m sure perceptually there’s no noticeable change, but it has always bothered me, at the back of my mind. Not nearly as much has having glasses does. Lying down on one’s side to read, for example, is such a hassle with these blasted things. I take them off to blow my nose so they don’t get pushed up on my eyebrows and get dirty (because holy damn if you think about glasses the wrong way they develop smudges and specks and spots). And where to begin regarding rain? I don’t mind being wet, and I very much dislike hats. I simply have nothing to be vain about anymore as far as hair goes, I just don’t like wearing hats. So where a hood would suffice to keep my head dry…it does pretty much nothing to keep my glasses clear. For that it’s a hat or umbrella, the latter being not always convenient, however gentlemanly it may make one look.

Contacts are not an option for me, due to the nature of my eyes. Surgery is obviously the answer, but, well, monies and to be honest, I’m not all that convinced they won’t fuck up. My eyes are pretty nice, however bad they are at their job. Really I think they’re my favourite personal feature. Is laser surgery meant getting lasers IN my eyes, then yes. But having lasers BURN into my eyes? (you can smell your eyeball cooking) Not so much. I’ll wait till people stop going blind after having it.

But so what, then, of my assertion that I do not see as others? Well, I don’t, plain as that. I just got thinking about it watching a video Matt Smith with Orbital at Glastonbury.

In Which Things Go Bang In the Night

•June 17, 2011 • 4 Comments

And so from swords I move to guns in my research. Same piece as I’ve been working on, same world. It’s a Renaissance/veryveryververy* early Industrial Revolution setting. The Industrial Revolution-y-ness is mostly just thrown in to account for airships. Cos dammit, I’m having airships or I’m taking my ball and going home. Anydoctor – er, anywho – on account of this mash-up time period, I get to have badass magic swords AND guns. Guns are just starting to show up, and are thus only at the flintlock pistol stage, mostly. A few revolvers exist, but are rare. I went looking through history for revolving rifles and a ha! They did exist. The earliest production model I could find was the 1855 Colt revolving rifle, and most others are from that era, which works for me. While the world I’m building is not at large at the technological level of the 19th century, certain aspects can be. I’ve also expanded my search to look at early and rare hand revolvers, to get a style for the weapon of choice for the character who favours guns. (His revolver is named Lucy. I don’t yet know what to call the revolving rifle he’ll eventually wind up with though. But he’s also a bit of a slut, so he’s going to wind up with what’s called a pepperbox at some point and, well, pepperboxes are very much what you’d expect to be used by a man who’s compensating for something. This character isn’t, but, it will still be done hilariously.)

I find guns much less interesting than swords, but they can be quite beautiful, and some of the ideas tried in the early days of revolvers were quite interesting, both from engineering and stylistic standpoints. I don’t need to be so picky in my world, but having some sliver of knowledge of what one is talking about in the real world helps make the pretend version, well, better.

*I was told by a very bad writing teacher who’s style and lessons I very much disliked to never use the word very. Verily, I use it very much.

In Which Things Go Stab In the Night

•June 10, 2011 • 3 Comments

Part of fantasy writing is kickass magical swords. A big part. (Or just kickass swords if your world is magicless.) So lately I’ve been reading up on swords. RPG swords, historical European, Japanese, and Damascus. Also a healthy dose of materials science, which I just find cool anyway because that’s one field that’s getting very sci-fi very fast.

Back to swords, though.

Katanas, the mysterious blades of the east, have long held a mystique of unequaled badassery. This is false. Japanese sword smiths did develop amazing, wonderful, artistic techniques, but this was because they had to, to be able to work with their inferior raw materials. Tamahange (iron sand found only in Japan) is not a magical holy element a la mithril – rather it’s a crap iron ore. Also of critical note is what Japanese blades were designed for – to cut, nothing else. A very short fight, where edges of blades did not meet. Japanese swords are wonderfully sharp, but weak, and have no magical ability to cut through a supposedly weak European sword. Part of the difference is that, because tamahange is crappy and rare, Japan didn’t mass produce swords like Europe did – however – mass produced swords are pretty crappy. Properly crafted European swords are the equal of Japanese blades, but in different arenas. The fighting styles and purposes of the weapons are very different. Steel on steel, there are comparable differences. Sword on sword, the comparisons become somewhat pointless.

What then of the legendary Damascus blades? Made of a meteorite, able to slice falling silk while at rest, cut a rock in half, their amazing beauty… etc. Well, yes. Damascus blades had something going for them, and that was the accidental creation of wootz steel, which science has recently discovered gains its strength, edge, and durability from carbon nanotubes. So, physics. This does make it a superior steel, but not SUPER steel. That’s an important difference. (Also, for clarity sake, most Damascus steel is just a pattern, not true wootz. Buyer beware.)

So then: Wootz vs Katana? No real answer. Wootz is better steel, katana better forging (that’s probably a bit mis-leading but, meh, this isn’t a sword forum), neither is as good as legend would have you believe, each has their own individual beauty, as well as their own individual strengths and weaknesses.

Which is why in fantasy we make shit up.

In which a generally unwanted canned ham-like product is lamented

•June 5, 2011 • 1 Comment

It seems, that in the history of this admittedly mostly-unused blog, there have been 79 comments designated as spam. I recollect two of these – one gibberish automated thing from early on, and the comment Steve took time from his busy life to leave a few days ago. Now, Akismet is a wonderful bit of code. Thing is, it deletes spam after some time. It has to, of course. But I’m rather curious about those 77 other comments. How many were automated garbage, and how many were like Steve?

The Net is vast and infinite, and nothing is really ever lost in that complexity, but I doubt I’ll ever see those 77 comments.

– Edit –

“The Net is vast and infinite, and nothing is really ever lost in that complexity..”

Firstly, the first part: Yes, it’s from GITS, and I do realise the Net is actually finite, perhaps not in easily expressed terms or even easily understood terms, but it does exist within the bounds of technology and thus far only on this planet and the space near it. Can the space it exists within be boundless? Not yet, but perhaps that can be answered “Effectively, yes.” Can the space it exists within be measured? Not without great difficulty, I believe. The web (which is not exactly the net but functionally so for this discussion) is estimated to contain 15.78 billion pages, while estimates on the informational size of the web place it around anywhere from 167 to 5 million terabytes. (For context, the Library of Congress was estimated in 1997 to have 3,000 terabytes.) Google has indexed 200TB, approximately 0.004% of what’s out there.

Infinite? No. Inconceivable?

I quite like this (swiped from WiseGeek) to describe it:

“Assessing the size of the Internet is a somewhat difficult proposition, since it is a distributed body, and no complete index of it exists. What we mean by asking how large the Internet is also plays into how we answer the question. Do we mean how many people use the Internet? How many websites are on the Internet? How many bytes of data are contained on the Internet? How many distinct servers operate on the Internet? How much traffic runs through the Internet per second? All of these different metrics could conceivably be used to address the sheer size of the Internet, but all are very different.” (read more here, if you like: )

Additionally, it turns out the internet has weight. The math is all very mathy, and beyond me, but one result is 2 ounces, the other is 0.2millionths of an ounce. I trust that one more because it showed its work and I suspect 2 ounces was just a missed decimal point. Anyway, you can view the math and reasoning for yourself here:

The world in a grain of sand? What about when silicon processors get powerful enough that a grain of sand can be a computer? Neal Asher’s Polity universe has massively powerful AI’s that size, and an AI the size of a tennis ball can run an entire civilized world.

So then, the other part: “…and nothing is ever really lost in it’s complexity…” What I meant at face value was simply, everything is copied somewhere. However, wazing more philisopgical, things are lost in that complexity. If Google has only indexed 0.004% of the internet, then are the edges not marked with “HC SVNT DRACONES”, beckoning use onwards to explore what has been lost since (the) time (of the internet) began? Often in science fiction humanity flings itself out into the stars and begins colonization, only to have some dark age befall it, with the new order that emerges re-discovering the lost worlds once settled. Do such places exist on the internet? Can the feeling the Vikings once got to experience, of not knowing what’s over the horizon, of finding a New World, be recaptured on the net?

The Net is vast, is it infinite?

Final(ly dreaming of) Fantasy(/ies)

•June 2, 2011 • 3 Comments

Interesting dream, last night. There was a boy and a girl, not brother and sister but the hero and his spunky side-kick, and they either already knew each other or just met. They were in a store, possibly a dream-version of Giant Tiger, when the boy learned his mother was not dead, just trapped in an underworld, and so began his quest.

Were it a video game, the hero would have learned various transformations along the way, as he did in the dream, from enemies. A wizard first, I think, a few others, and eventually a big badass kind of underworld dragon. Obviously that was the exclusive choice, once it was found. The dream also featured superheroes, though. Throughout the quest in the underworld, there would occasionally be good guys after a dungeon or boss fight, and after the last pair of these the boy and girl found, she put two and two together and said to him “I think we have superheroes!” It turned out that of this last pair (a man and woman) the guy’s power was “wearing green clothes” but he was very helpful and friendly, if underpowered. But, as is the way of these things, our hero went on alone from there. Being that he could now fly with his dragon form, he managed to skip over many of the annoying random encounters that permeate such worlds, and arrive at the final castle wherein was his mother.

There was presumably some clearing of the final dungeon, but I don’t quite recollect that. He did find his mother though, but found that she had started to become like the place she had been in so long – a different reaction to his ability to transform, perhaps, I don’t know. But she was on the edge of becoming one of the bad guys, the monsters. She was still human enough to go with him, back to the last castle where at least some of the superheroes were. I think they made it their own.

The dream fades out then, or my memory of it is just dim, but it was still pretty cool. Also, I wasn’t even in it, so that was interesting. It was quite like playing a video game.

And I think by the title of this post, you can tell what sort of game it was like playing.

Vegetarian Sushi

•May 30, 2011 • 2 Comments

Before we get into this one, I’d like to thank Steven for my first spammy comment. I’m not quite sure why someone would take the time to troll my little blog that’s been read by all of four people, but it was nice that he put in the effort. Maybe he felt a connection to my trashy stories about sexbots, and felt disappointed and abandoned by my return to this blog after more than a year being musings on thoughts and a fictional material I came up with. You have to understand (you especially, Steven) it doesn’t bother me. Really. I understand the troll mentality. You’re such broken, lonely individuals, you just NEED that attention, even if it’s hate. “Don’t feed the trolls” etc. But you see, I don’t hate you. I’d like to not even care, but, the problem is I feel like forgiving you your tiny cry in the dark. I really don’t care, anonymous person on the internet, if you thought my three-paragraph musing was a waste of your time because, you see, you didn’t have to read it.

I hope you get better, Steven from the internet. It would be a shame to go through life the way you are. Anyway, on to sushi-ier things.

I do know vegetarians who eat sushi, and you can make it without fish, so perhaps the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer. Regardless, that’s how I think of what I made. A wrap with cream cheese spread on it, followed by either hummus/salsa/or roasted red pepper spread, and then topped with an assortment of lettuce, cucumber, black and green olives, green onions, and shredded cheese. A few different of these wraps were made, as you can see. It turned out quite nice and fresh for a summer day!

Corruption of the wave

•May 29, 2011 • 3 Comments

Not a story, I’m afraid, but musings. Seeing as I’ve deemed the project this blog was created for finished (though by alternate means) I don’t feel as bad about posting such things here as I once would have. So on we go.

 

In a story I’ve been working on, well, really more world-building, there’s a fantastically valuable mineral known as coldsilver. Coldsilver, along with being fictionally strong and resistant, but its value comes primarily from the sort of magnetic radiation it emits when properly prepared, pure samples are heated to the right temperature. (This temperature is far below its melting point.) This radiation can then be channeled through copper networks built into the hulls of ships to make them – airships. Loose science but hey, it’s fantasy. And I want my airships, gorram it.

Coldsilver resist tarnish and corrosion, but can be corrupted through a sort of mineral plague instigated by…well… we’ll leave that a secret, for the time being. (Sorry, to one of my readers. <3) But in this corrupted state, it eliminates willpower in humans, eventually killing them, when almost any amount of it winds up in their bodies. Trolls are affected by going berserk and violent.

So, corruption.

Why I'm musing on this is not really important, but the nature that anything from thoughts right up to fantastic metals can be so radically changed from what they once were can sometimes be very surprising.