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

SCP and the Scary World of Global Scifi

SCP and the Scary World of Global Scifi #StandWithSCPRU

Well that’s awful. SCP, the collaborative-fiction project that’s been running for eleven years now, is under attack by a patent troll somewhere in Russia. I don’t have all the details, but you can read more about it on the following Reddit thread. I only have an academic interest in SCP (not into horror scifi) but their fight strikes home, since it deals with the scary world of global scifi.

Fun fact: If you’re an an author, you don’t just need to know writing. You also need to be an expert in publishing, accounting, design, negotiation, marketing and yes, even intellectual property. According to Wikipedia, the main purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage the creation of a wide variety of intellectual goods. The downside is that intellectual property laws vary from country to country, and gray areas leave room for bad actors.

The reason why the SCP story is so compelling is because the community attempted from the beginning to avoid any such bad action. As a collaborative-fiction project, SCP made use of the free-culture movement to create a compelling story that anyone could read, and anyone could write. Monetization seemed to be the last thing on anyone’s list and to their credit, they’ve been doing this for eleven years with a decent amount of success.

So here comes Andrey Duksin, ‘a Russian man who has illegally registered an illegitimate trademark for SCP within the Eurasian Customs Union. He has used said trademark to threaten and extort legitimate sellers of SCP merchandise, and in addition is guilty of copyright infringement, as his own merchandise completely violates the SCP content license: Creative Commons Share-alike 3.0.’ His actions strike at the heart of what free-culture, collaborative fiction, and Creative Commons are meant to support.

Naturally, this should scare everyone in the SCP community and it does. What’s the point of contributing if it means some dork in another part of the world can waltz in and use IP laws to steal what you tried to give away for free? What recourse do we have when one person, anywhere in the world, can end your life’s work with the touch of a button?

I’m going out on a limb right now and calling Andrey Duksin a toxic fan. He didn’t invent SCP, but he’s using global intellectual property laws to steal it, and that is #5 on the list of questions you can ask yourself (“Do you take more than you give to scifi?”). What he’s doing isn’t right, but let’s face it: It was going to happen sooner or later in this weird, copyright-trolling universe we inhabit.

Even at my modest level, I’m cautious about the microfiction I’ve published. I’ve already had one person ask permission to translate it and share it, but I said “no.” Maybe they have good intentions, but I can’t guarantee that they won’t show up later going ‘this is mine now, sucker.’ That is why I prefer to err on the side of caution. There’s no such thing as a risk-free enterprise, but I want to be as smart as I can while being as open as I can.

So for now, the main thing is to stomp the bad acting wherever we can. While this this unhappy episode with SCP illustrates the challenges that small-time, grass-root organizations face when interacting with a global community, the good news is that there’s more with us than there are with them.

The only way patent trolls will be stopped is when understand that not only is a patent troll a waste of time, it’s going to hurt to even try. We aren’t there yet, but my hope is that we will be, soon. You might consider kicking in a few bucks to their legal fund and hashtagging the #StandWithSCPRU.

New Microfiction – Bright Sparks

What would it be like to see WWIII start from space? That’s the premise behind this writing prompt: “You are a crew member on the ISS in Low-Earth Orbit, you just lost contact with Houston. As you look out of your observation window you see Nuclear Explosions on the East Coast of the USA, the Third World War has begun.” My response became this piece of microfiction I’m calling ‘Bright Sparks.’ Here’s the opening:

Light. Beautiful, terrible light.

Unless you’ve experienced a nuclear blast in person, you just can’t understand the brightness of the blast, the beauty of this pure spark. Film can’t catch it. Even our 8K video camera is useless. This must be what it’s like to stare directly into the sun. I’m dead, as of now. Only a few more seconds. Might as well try to enjoy them.

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