Mesh Update #8 – Inspirational Schools

Ran across this story about the Midland School in California, and fell in love. For over a thousand years, education has been the root of every civilization. But how do you teach young people to be good people? How do you teach them the skills necessary to be successful beyond business, in life itself?

Midlands seems to have found the answer. What makes a school like this stand out is the level of life skills they’re giving to each student. “The students more or less run Midland, which has no janitorial or maintenance staff. They plant and pick about half of the food they eat on a 10-acre farm. They clean the windows, maintain the landscape, and sweep the old chapel.’

“‘We know we’re different and we know we’re a little crazy,’ said Christopher Barnes, the head of school. ‘The question for each student and for each family is if we’re your kind of crazy.'”

How does this tie back to Mesh? Our protags, Roman and Zeke, are going to visit a school like Midland when the Mesh is discovered. A school full of tough nerdy kids, ready to do battle against the bad guys? I can see them having a lot of fun. My hope is that you will, too.

 

Elon Musk: Tony Stark Gonna Tony Stark

The news this morning made me realize that I needed to talk about Elon Musk, the universe’s answer to ‘What would happen if Tony Stark were a real person?’ Musk embodies many of the ideals behind Geekquinox, so let’s discuss what the non-nerd media isn’t getting about Tesla, Musk and innovation as a whole.

First, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the average guy in 2018: he’s struggling. He’s aware of the challenges facing life on planet Earth. Plus, he knows the increasing disparity between the needs of the many, and the needs of those in power. He’s rightly asking, where is all of this taking us? When will it start to get better?

Enter Elon Musk. Like Tony Stark, he’s been a maverick his entire career, disrupting industry after industry. Long before we knew what hyperlocal media was, Elon Musk gave us Zip2. Long before we understood the implications of e-commerce banking, Musk gave us Paypal. Any time institutions said ‘you can’t do that,’ Musk’s response was: “Hold my beer.”

Now flash forward to 2018. Tesla production, making cars people buy in California in the 21st century, it’s a tough nut to crack. It involves work, innovation and persistance. Wall Street starts acting like a spoiled teenager, and Big Daddy Musk is like “Uh, yah … no.”

Good for him! In the movies, we champion a maverick. Think about how crazy Tony Stark seemed to be in Iron Man in 2008 when he announced, ‘no more weapons.’ In the movie, as in reality (both including Jim Cramer, like the line between movies and reality isn’t blurry enough), the stock market reacted wildly to his announcement. We didn’t care. We loved that a powerful guy was willing to stand up for what is right. Why would you be surprised that we don’t care about Tesla’s stock price, either?

Let me clue you in: you don’t have a clue. Between Michelle Wolf calling the media out, and Elon Musk not caring if you buy his stock, it’s a heapin’ helping of justiceporn to anyone who despairs of the dystopian status quo.

Here’s another pro-tip – Musk knows you won’t get it. Like every great innovator, he’s prepared to be misunderstood. If you couldn’t understand why SpaceX was important in 2001, why would he bother trying to impress you in 2018? This guy is changing the world. This guy is saving the world. Musk makes things happen, while Wall Street wonders what happened.

In a way, it reminds me of a grandma trying to backseat drive her son. Everyone knows grandma can’t drive herself, but she yaks and complains because she wants everyone to pay attention to her. At some point, someone’s going to tell her: If Grandma don’t like how daddy drives, there’s plenty of room on the Senior Trolley. That’s what Elon Musk just did to the media.

Musk is here to save the world, not the stock market. He’s a geek, and for once in your life you’re dealing with a geek who doesn’t care what you think. If you aren’t willing to come along for the ride, then please make room for another passenger. It’s a positively refreshing response in an increasingly craven world, where the priorities of few override the needs of many.

Good for him, I say. Power is taken, not given. Musk’s comments send a very clear message to those that think human innovation and progress are only seen through the lens of a stock price. Those people are wrong, and it takes a guy like Elon Musk to point it out. Only a person at that level has the ability to say: “I don’t have to play your game. I can succeed without you.”

Elon is keeping his geek hand strong. More power to him.

New for March – Free Scifi Wallpaper

Welcome to March. Here’s another free wallpaper – this one’s been sized to work with your favorite mobile device. Been working on this one a while. I’ll see a free picture on Unsplash and reimagine it in a sci-fi context.

I started out with this picture: and now it looks like this:

From the very beginning – the boy looked like he was getting abducted by aliens or something – so I ran with that idea. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. Welcome to March, 2018.

 

 

 

Ready Player One: Bad Writing Doesn’t Matter

I was about three chapters into ‘Ready Player One’ when it hit me: Ernie Cline is the Dave Grohl of authors. As in, I love the guy, but I’m not a fan of his work. Logical dichotomies invited my geek-auteur brain to divide by zero. Thankfully, Reddit was there to help me out. I created a thread on /r/writing to talk about it. This is about everything that happened next.

Before I say anything else, let me say this: I love Ernie Cline. Been a fan of his since 2002 or so, when I fell in love with his spoken-word performances about dorky topics. Cline has a brilliant knack for tapping into nerdly zeitgeist into a Robin Williams-style stream of consciousness. You can’t help but respect that.

It should be no surprise then, that I’m happy for him and the success of Ready Player One. Seriously, isn’t that every author’s dream? Your debut novel turns into a Spielberg project. Who wouldn’t love to trade places with Ernie Cline for a day, to experience that level of ‘you’ve arrived,’ in your life?

“But you said you didn’t like Ready Player One,” you might be saying. Yes, that’s true … but that’s not the point. As one Redditor put it: “as a writer myself I know how much easier it is to trash a book than to write one. Completing a novel is a huge accomplishment.” So make no mistake: this post isn’t about trashing Ready Player One (RPO). This is about what RPO’s success can teach us.  Continue reading

Rutger Hauer Destroys Reboots in One Sentence

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Blade Runner 2049.  However, I can’t ignore the wisdom of Rutger Hauer on display in this Hollywood Reporter interview posted a couple of days ago. Even though he hated BR2049, he put a finger on why reboots and sequels aren’t working for me anymore. While everyone seems to agree that the recent trend of sequel reboots and franchises are killing original sci-fi, it really boils down to this:

Don’t lean with one elbow on the success that was earned over 30 years in the underground.

You know something? He’s absolutely right. Sequels and reboots are absolutely leaning with one elbow on other successes. I know we’re all locked into the mad gauntlet between art and commerce, but flawless execution can only take us so far. Ultimately, we’re looking for stories and ideas that take them to other places. We can only go back to that sequel/reboot well so many times.

What if you like a reboot? Or a sequel? Nothing wrong with that. Some of them are pretty good, and that’s ultimately what I’m looking for and maybe you are, too. Rutger Hauer is simply suggesting we have room in our rodeo for more than one-trick ponies, and I happen to agree.

 

Check Out Paul Chadeisson Right Now

 

Sometimes you run into an artist who is so good that it makes you question why you’re bothering to make your stuff at all. For me, I had one of those moments when I saw Paul Chadeisson’s work over at Artstation. His work is so detailed and evocative, that it reminds me a lot of Simon Stålenhag, another favorite sci-fi artist.

Artistic envy is nothing new. It’s good sometimes to look out there, beyond your horizon, to see what other people are doing. It reminds you to focus on delivering your best, while constantly refining what your best can be.

And then you get back to work.

Kids on Saturday Night – New Free Wallpaper

So here’s something free for February – a quick cyberpunk wallpaper that I’ve been tinkering with for a few weeks now. I think the original picture came from Unsplash and then I started reimagining it in a scifi context.

Free wallpapers are part of the Free Stuff I give away from time to time. All sci-fi, all made by me, because making stuff is important. Hope you enjoy Kids on Saturday Night.

SciFi Needs an Ashleigh Banfield

Whoa …

I stay out of the Breaking News section of the paper, preferring to focus on sci-fi and my personal work. At the same time, can’t ignore what’s happening within various social movements like #MeToo. It’s leading to some very positive change, and it makes me think about what that could do for the scifi community and genre. More notes below the video:

Continue reading