Star Trek – When Nerds Nerd Out

Star Trek - When Nerds Nerd OutThis /r/bestof post answered a question for me that I never knew I was asking: What *is* the Prime Directive? An anthropologist provides a detailed, nerdy answer and the results will totally blow your mind. No, I’m serious: prepare to have your melon bent. Here’s a quick preview:

“The problem here is that Star Trek, for as “enlightened” as it seems, essentially has adopted a 19th century perspective on social / cultural change, enhanced with some early 20th century Boasian concepts.

“The basic premise behind the Prime Directive is species have their own developmental trajectories, and that Starfleet / the Federation / other species shouldn’t interfere with that. So far so good. That’s moderately Boasian in its perspective.”

And then …

“[T]he idea of a society’s “natural development” is very much predicated on 19th century unilineal evolutionary ideas, that all societies develop along a single technological and social continuum. Even worse, the Federation and Starfleet enforce this by refusing planets’ admission to the organization if they don’t conform to certain criteria. And they use this as a bludgeon at times, as with the 3rd season episode, “The Hunted,” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunted_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)) in which a society seeking admission to the Federation is refused admission because, to human Captain Picard, their means of waging war (super soldiers who are not properly reintegrated into society after their usefulness is over) is not palatable. The implication is that societies must change if they want admission, which comes with huge economic and technological benefits.

“As one character remarked (in an episode I don’t recall, but I think it was DS9, and maybe Quark), “at least with the Borg, you know where you stand. The Federation does the same thing, but is far more insidious.”

“While we could argue that many of the Federation’s stipulations are reasonable, there’s a significant amount of ethnocentrism at play here. Earth / human morality and ethics are always treated as monolithic, and are also always (well, almost always) treated as the default.”

And believe me, this is the Cliff Notes version. Go finish reading this delightful, yet insightful discussion on alien contact. Your brain will dissolve into a chewy mouthful of scifi nerdery, and you’ll be a better person for it.

What Is the Prime Directive?

Story is All We Have Left

Well that’s it folks. A million cinematographers just cried out in terror. Took me a few to collect my thoughts, but here’s the bottom line: what you’re going to see in this video is the end of conventional film-making. After spending hundreds of hours on set, watching them build and light sets, I’m in total shock. This is a total game changer. This is what happens when you disrupt. This is means that in the near-future, story will be the only thing we have left. Watch the video, and then let me explain.

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The Future is Ethical

So if it isn’t clear by now, Inkican is a dedicated non-political space. It’s pretty simple why, I don’t know enough to articulate a solution and I don’t want to be another mouthbreather boring you with my opinions. Don’t ask me about it, because I don’t know. Even if I did know, I’m the last person you should get life advice from. This is our little zone of peace. The only thing I’ll say about current events is this: greed doesn’t work. Gordon Gecko said that greed is good in 1987, not so much in 2019. People are miserable, we’re sliding into a boring dystopia, it all comes down to a simple problem: exploitation vs. ethics. Me vs. We. We live in a society of ‘Me’s’ and it’s not working too well for us. The future is ethical, if we plan to survive the next hundred years.

Doc Brown, in Back to the Future III, said: “Your future is whatever you make of it!” He’s absolutely right, but the problem is that he assumed you weren’t a sociopath. We live in a different place now. Civilization is becoming more sociopathic and if we survive it at all, it’s because we’ve embraced some type of uniform ethical behavior. More on what that means below.

This isn’t a new idea, others have said the same thing. Since I’m not about giving my opinions, I’m just writing down what I think might happen if I think society goes one way or another. What if society started thinking about ethics, or ethical behavior, into its decisions?

Ethics, as Wikipedia defines it, ‘is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.’ Those that have profited off the sociopathy aren’t going to give up without a fight, and that conflict is ultimately what Mesh is about. I’m not advocating a certain perspective, I’m just writing about what might happen if people made those types of choices in the future. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s a future you want to live in.

One thing is certain, a ‘Me’ society cannot last. It’s not a sustainable perspective. It might last for a small minority, but it won’t last for the majority and sooner or later our actions will catch up to us. Can’t buy your way out, can’t argue your way out, we all reap what we sew eventually whether it’s us or the people we leave behind.

So yeah, I’m not advocating for a specific position. Not equipped to. I’m saying all this as an objective observer of our time, extrapolating what it might mean if circumstances continue. Is it good? Is it bad? That’s up to you to decide. I see things in my head and I write them down, as much for me as it is for anyone else. We could also imagine a better place, if we want to. We can elaborate and explore value systems, transitioning to a world that respects diversity and is sensitive to culture. In fact, this choice is upon us whether we choose to see it or not. As this Huffpost essay points out: ‘those who come after us are also our fellow human beings. We must do to them as we would have wished that they would have done to us if it was they who had inhabited this planet before us.’

Or not. I’m not your Dad. We can fail to act, choose to ignore the problems staring us in the face, but we cannot avoid their consequences. If our philosophy is ‘me at any cost,’ well that’s been tried before. We’ve seen civilizations fall on that toxic perspective (Hello, Rome!). Maybe people want that, to be that failed civilization others wander through. Maybe they want to be the one that the villagers come for with torches and pitchforks. I mean, it doesn’t sound like something I want but you do you, homie.

Back to Mesh. You’ll throughout the story that the kids are faced with that same choice. It’s a little less ambiguous in their case – Roman and the gang literally will have the choice to take over the world if they want to. But will they? Do they want Me or We? The book is about that choice, and everything that comes after. You’ll be able to figure out who’s who as the story goes on. One thing is for certain, the Mesh kids won’t escape their choices.

Neither will we.

Working On New Story Collection

Waiting for response from my agent queries – meanwhile, I’m cranking away at something else: a short story / microfiction collection based on everything I’ve created over the past three years. Would you believe I’ve written about twenty-thousand words in /r/writingprompts? That will be Part Two of a two-part collection: short stories and microfiction. More coming later … just wanted to tell you that more new stuff is coming!

Have a great weekend! 🙂

How YA Fiction is Supposed to Work

Stumbled across this amazing thread about YA publishing on Twitter and wanted to share. I have an intersectional interest because Mesh is YA, but what really matters in terms of the YA fiction audience? Emily Lloyd-Jones breaks it down in the tweet below. Click the link to read the entire thread – it’s worth it.

Mesh: Can This Really Work?

Mesh: Can This Really Work?

When writing a sci-fi book, one of the first questions you may be asked is ‘how real is your book?’ I’m happy to say that not only are the technologies I talk about in Mesh completely plausible, they’re completely real!

Don’t believe me, believe this write-up on the Mesh network of Havana, Cuba. According to Gizmodo, their mesh has been growing and changing since 2001: “Beginning in 2001, a small community of tech-savvy Cubans have been building a sprawling mesh network that stretches across Havana. This crowdsourced connectivity takes advantage of hidden Wi-Fi antennas and broadband cables stretched across rooftops to network over 9,000 com

puters across different neighborhoods in Cuba’s capital. The resultant Snet, or streetnet, enables people to exchange news updates, share files, and even play online games like World of Warcraft.”

Mesh networks make sense in places where Internet use is prohibited, or prohibitive. The technical details of Havana’s mesh are almost adorable, as this article entitled “If it Rains, Ask Grandma to Disconnect the Nano” goes on to prove.

Click Here to Learn More About Mesh Networking
Bottom line is, the Mesh is totally real and ready for you to discover. I hope you enjoy learning and discovering more about this geeky topic.
Click Here to Learn More About Mesh