More Books Under My Belt

As I wait for the rain to stop so I can go out and grill chicken–and from the look of the weather radar, I think we’ll either be eating a very late supper, or cooking it indoors–I’ll tell you about some more books I’ve read recently.

Several years ago, someone recommended Zenna Henderson’s “People” stories as being excellently-written religious speculative fiction. I found Ingathering and purchased it then, but didn’t start reading it until this summer. A hefty 577 pages, it’s a compilation of all Henderson’s stories about “the People,” originally published in short story form in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.

It’s true that the writing is excellent. Henderson weaves words like a beautiful tapestry. And though it’s not Christian fiction, it’s definitely religious in nature. But before I was halfway through the book, I realized it was a chore to read, not a pleasure. I plugged away at it a little longer, but eventually I decided I’d had enough and put it aside.

The stories simply seemed too much of the same thing after a while. Moreover, I didn’t care about a group of wonderfully kind, ever-cheerful, and supernaturally gifted extraterrestrials who’d fled their dying home planet and came to earth to try to re-establish themselves on a planet where they were persecuted as freaks. That’s not all there was to it, but it eventually bored me, so I decided to move on to something else.

That “something else” was Unknown Enemy, written by a friend. I’ll be posting my review both here and on Amazon once the title is released on August 2, so stay tuned!

From there, I moved on to a short nonfiction piece, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev.

Now there’s a fascinating read! The author was born of Russian parents, but they left the USSR  and he was raised in the UK. Later, as an adult, he  lived and worked in Russia for almost a decade. As a result, he has a lot of stories to tell, and he tells them with skill.

I won’t be reviewing this book on Amazon because it already has plenty of reviews, and I don’t feel qualified to weigh in on it. I did enjoy it, though, and I recommend it for anyone who’s interested in that sort of thing.

The book was published in 2014, by the way, in case you were wondering how current it is. The situations discussed are all post-USSR, but a few years distant by now.

And finally, an update on a situation I know you’ve been consumed with curiosity to know more about: it’s still raining, and I ended up cooking the chicken indoors. It was a little disappointing. But we’re fed, cozy, and dry, so no complaints.

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He That Sitteth in the Heavens Shall Laugh…

planet111That’s the first part of Psalm 2:4, in case you don’t recognize it. The whole psalm is short, but well worth reading and contemplating regularly.

And now, though it looks like I’m changing the subject, I’m not.

I think overall, the quality and variety of Christian fiction is improving, and I’m happy to see the changes. However, my opinion remains that for cream-of-the-crop writing, head for the secular fiction.

Yes, we must be discerning about these things. There are scads of books out there I wouldn’t want to read—nor even look at the covers. Nevertheless, discounting erotica, secular fiction offers a wide assortment of absorbing, thought-provoking stories that are beautifully crafted.

Take, for instance, the book I finished reading last week. It’s classic sci-fi, and I found it compelling. Not because of the science, as I don’t care about that so much. What intrigued me was the way the story looked at religion from a wholly clinical perspective.

I’m talking bout The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke. If you’re not a sci-fi fan, you the songs of distant earthmight not recognize the author as one of “The Big Three” of science fiction writers in the formative years of the genre (the other two being Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov).

The guy was no slouch. Very brainy. He was not only a prolific writer of science nonfiction as well as fiction, but a deep sea explorer and inventor as well. (I believe he had a TV show, too, though I’m not sure that speaks to his intelligence.) Perhaps his best-known claim to fame is his creation of the novel and the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Which I’ve never read or seen. I’m going to have to rectify that soon.)

A brief background of the story in question:

When scientists discovered that the sun was about to go nova in the next few thousand years, the world united in making plans to preserve human life by transplanting it to other planets. This was done initially through the use of “seedships” that carried the raw ingredients and genetic formulas to create not only human life, but farm animals, plants, and a variety of creatures necessary for food production. (No disease organisms or parasites, however.) Once a suitable environment would be found—or created through scientific means on a planet that held potential—robots would construct the necessary life, raise the test-tube babies to maturity, and assist them in establishing a self-sufficient colony over the next several human generations.

After cryogenics became more reliable, ships were sent out with actual people on them, but frozen, with the systems programmed to awaken them when the time was right.

In both cases, the ships carried books, art, and other relics from earth so that the new societies these people established would preserve the old terrestrial culture. However—and this is the fun part—everything sent into space was carefully selected in order to avoid contamination of any sort, whether medical or mental. And one of the harmful influences expunged was any whiff of religion.

You see, by this time, mankind had become so logical that people no longer believed in the existence of God. In the words of one of the book’s characters (who called the Creator God Alpha): “Fortunately for mankind, Alpha faded out of the picture, more or less gracefully, in the early 2000s.” The character went on to explain how mankind came to certain conclusions about the impossibility of such a Being, reason prevailed, and God died.

The story takes place on the planet of Thalassa, where one of the seedships had met with success several centuries earlier. The society there is small but thriving, with the inhabitants living happy, productive lives in peace and harmony.

Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke

The author wrote so skillfully that the scenario was almost believable. As I sketch it out for you now, though, I can’t keep it from sounding ridiculous. Perhaps one reason the author was so convincing (apart from his considerable writing skill) is because he fully believed it all possible. And it’s hard for me to grasp how an intelligent man could seriously entertain those thoughts. It makes me think that however well trained Arthur C. Clarke was in the sciences, he was no student of either history or human nature.

The author considered religion an outgrowth of ignorance and superstition; scientific understanding would, therefore, eventually overcome it. It’s true that scientific discoveries have put many religious myths to rest. However, there’s a gaping chasm between religious myth and scriptural truth.

No scientific evidence has ever disproved the Bible. Some scientists’ interpretations of the evidence contradict the scriptural record, but the actual evidence does not. As a matter of fact, when viewed objectively, the physical evidence supports the history of Noah’s flood more than it does evolutionary theory.

Not all scientists are in agreement about what the evidence indicates. Some highly educated people see science as glorifying the Creator God, not disproving His existence. They might be among a quiet minority, but they’re out there in the scientific community, looking the facts in the eye and seeing God looking back at them.

Here’s another glitch to the story’s premise: If we did not originally bear the image of the eternal God, why would we care if the sun incinerated the solar system? Wouldn’t a more likely attitude be Let’s eat, drink, and be merry while we can, because tomorrow we’ll be ash? I have to believe that without any concept of eternity, man’s inclination would be to go for the gusto. Who cares if the world suddenly burns up in a galactic fireball? It was fun while it lasted, and once we’re gone, we won’t feel a thing.

The idea of humanity vanishing without leaving a footprint is so jarring because it collides against our innate awareness that we were created for eternity. For us to be horrified by the thought, we must have some concept of God deep within.

Which leads us to the fact that no culture has ever needed to be taught religious thinking. Removing all mention or trace from the records (which in itself seems an impossible task, as it permeates everything mankind produces) wouldn’t delete it from our DNA. The suggestion that mankind is religious only because he was influenced by his ancestors flies in the face of reason.

Back to the Christian fiction v. secular topic. Why do I enjoy a book that presents a viewpoint I disagree with? Because stories like this give me a chance to look at subjects I might otherwise take for granted. Exploring these things from multiple sides results in deeper understanding and stronger faith. Also, seeing how others perceive the world helps me to better relate to others. When I read or hear what seems like an outlandish statement, I’m better equipped to see where they’re coming from.

But here’s the main reason: as a writer, reading excellent writing helps me improve my own.

When I want well-written fiction, I read the masters of the craft. When I want truth, I read the Bible. Because knowing God’s word is the only way we can rightly identify the fiction in any novel.

Arthur Clarke died in 2008 at the age of 90. I hope that sometime before his death he had a change of heart. It would be painful indeed to stand before the undeniable God you’d spent your whole life trying desperately to deny.

 

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A Thoughtful Review

Rabid Readers ReviewsYou may have noticed (though I doubt if you’ve given it much thought) that I haven’t been very attentive to my blog lately. I’ve been pretty much ignoring Twitter, too. Some of this is for the purpose of a test: if I neglect social media, will the world come to a screeching halt?

Surprise, surprise: the answer is no. I doubt it’s caused my book sales to fall off either, since they weren’t selling to begin with. Bottom line: it’s freed up some of my time with no dire consequences. Perhaps the experiment was worthwhile!

Whether I take up blogging and tweeting again with greater diligence remains to be seen. Meanwhile, a new review came to my attention this afternoon, and I thought I’d share it with all my fans out there in Blogdom. It’s a little different, but rather gratifying.

Don’t let me tell you what to think of it, though. Decide for yourself: Review of The Story in the Stars on Rabid Reader Reviews.

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Who Do You Write Like?

I ran across a tweet today where a tweep shared a link to a site that analyzes your writing style and compares it to the works of famous authors. She said, “I know they’re crazy because they say I write like Charles Dickens.”

I don’t know her writing style, so I can’t say how far off the analysis might be in her case.  But, naturally, my curiosity was piqued, so I went to the site and submitted a sample of my current work in progress (Book #4 in the Gateway to Gannah series).

Here’s the sample I submitted:

 Lileela would have killed for one minute of comfort. Just one minute.

But there was no one within reach to kill.

The pain in her legs was bad enough to darken her vision—or was it the result of the dim light in here? No, it must be more than that, because even the outlines she could see were fuzzy and vague.

In addition to the pain in her legs, now the arm she lay on bothered her. Numbness crept down to her fingers, and it felt like something dug into her shoulder. But she couldn’t lift herself up to relieve the pressure because of the low rock ceiling.

She contemplated what might happen if she worked her arm around so she could push up suddenly onto her elbow. If she did it fast enough, she might knock herself out.

It probably wouldn’t work, though. It would only make her head hurt on top of everything else.

At the end of the narrow opening in which she lay, the unseen Kughurrrro shifted his weight and groaned.

She supposed she’d been doing her share of groaning herself. “You okay out there?”

“Couldn’t be better. My knee is twice its normal size and desperately needs to be iced. It throbs like a pulsating dindunskghiskallala in its first season of growth. My shirt is soaked through with a good half litre of blood streaming from my ear, which, if it isn’t stitched back on soon, will likely dry up and fall off for lack of nourishment. But I don’t suppose that matters, as I’m quite certain the rest of me will die in this hole too, eventually. The sum total adds up to a strikingly fabulous day.”

Lileela’s ears tipped back in annoyance then rose with amusement. By the time his speech ended, she was chuckling silently. The Karkar language was an exquisite one for howling a lament, and he’d chosen his words to contain a minimum of six vibrant syllables each. The impassioned recitation reverberated through the mine like an epic poem.

“I’m glad, Kughurrrro. I was afraid you might be upset by this turn of events.” She devised the vocabulary to patter against the stone walls like pebbles.

A guffaw bubbled up from his chest and exploded with a thundering blast. “It’s a rare pleasure,” he said between brays of hilarity, “to exchange verbal poetry with an artisan of the rich and colorful Karkar language.”

 

After pasting that snippet into the box, I clicked “Submit.” They analyzed it and concluded that I write like… H. P. Lovecraft.

Really??

Well, okay. I’ll admit the sample I provided does include things like pain, blood and death. Perhaps I should have used a different snippet. I chose that one because it’s what I’ve been working on most recently.

Friend and author Gina Holmes was brave enough to go on record saying that my writing reminds her of Madeline L’Engel. I like that comparison a lot better!

H. P. Lovecraft? I’ve never read anything he wrote, so his style obviously was no influence on me.  Though he’s a big name in speculative fiction and I see his work mentioned frequently, I’ve never read any of it because it doesn’t interest me. There are so many books in the world begging to be read, I don’t want to waste my time on something I won’t enjoy.

According to Wikipedia, Lovecraft was responsible for Stephen King’s fascination with horror and the macabre and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. But I don’t read, let alone write, things in that realm.

Notwithstanding the interesting results, it was a fun exercise. Give it a try; see who the site says your writing resembles.

Just be careful about choosing the sample you provide!

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Meet Paul Baines

In the last installment of the Lost Genre Guild guest blog series, today we meet self-described nomad Paul Baines.

Q. Welcome, Paul. How long have you been writing?

A. I used to mess around with short fiction at school, but I only started writing seriously about fourteen years ago.

Q. When did you feel called to write?

A. Fourteen years ago. I asked God for something that I could do for Him and the desire to write hit me within a matter of weeks.

Q.  Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

A. I usually start with thinking about an interesting situation or scene. Occasionally, one will stick and I then start thinking about events surrounding the scene. If end up with enough material to work with, it may end up on my list of potential stories. At this point, I write the opening chapter. This is usually enough to tell me whether or not it can work as a novel.

Q. What are your thoughts on critique groups?

I was invited to one a couple of years back, but I have never actually taken part in one. The problem is a lack of time. I simply don’t have enough sand in my hourglass to do everything I want to do. If they could find a way of adding another eight hours to the standard day, I would be a very happy scribbler.

Q. Was it hard to develop a writing style?

A. For me, yes. It took most of the past fourteen years for me to find my voice. My first attempt at a novel was described as “solid but not slick enough.” Since then I have worked diligently to find my own voice. I’m not sure how “slick” my writing is now, but at least it is mine.

Q. Who is your favorite author?

A. Stephen King.

Q. Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

A. I get a mild version of writer’s block fairly regularly. Sometimes the words just flow. Other times I can spend days in a staring contest with my monitor. I get over these blocks by reading. I find that the act of reading will often be enough to jump-start my own creativity.

Q. Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

A. I once read that you should write what you know. I am pretty certain that, in the act of creating a character, we all draw on our own experiences. So, yes, definitely.

Q. Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

A. The hardest scene for me to write was a church scene. I was desperate to avoid being preachy, yet the scene was essential for the story. I think I managed to avoided making it preachy in the end (at least I hope I did). As for making myself cry, I did manage to make myself choke up one time. I was reading a chapter that seemed to make everyone who read it a bit teary. I wanted to see if I could identify exactly what it was that triggered the emotion. While reading it, I choked up. And, yes, I did identify the trigger.

Q. Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I like to have a very broad outline. I liken it to remembering an old film I’ve seen years before, in which I can remember the mood of the film, and the general plot, but not the details. That way, I can let the story grow, but without getting lost on the way.

Q. What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

A. A sense that God is in control and loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Q. Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

A. Hmm. Well I have two finished stories with my publisher at the moment. Plus a long humorous poem for kids, written in the style of Dr Seuss. At the moment I’m busy writing a sequel to my debut novel Alpha Redemption. And I have another story waiting to be written, plus an old story that I want to rewrite and another that I am thinking about.

Q. How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

A. Jesus was a story teller. He used stories to help explain difficult concepts. On ten occasions Jesus started a parable  with the words: “The kingdom of heaven is like. . .”. He could have just “told” them about heaven, but he knew it would be more effective to “show” them through a story. If someone ever suggested that certain elements of my story were un-Christian, I would probably direct them to go and read through their Bible again and underline anything that they would consider to contain “un-Christian” elements if they encountered it in a modern novel. I think most of Revelation would qualify, as would much of the account of Moses’ time in Egypt.

Q.  Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

A. I love to watch a good film, or listen to some music. When I’m not relaxing I am usually exercising, or watching sport. I used to be a fitness instructor so cannot imagine not being fit. I’m not a fitness fanatic, but I do like to train.

Q. With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

I commute six miles to work and back on my bicycle every day, which means I have about an hour-and-a-half with nothing to do other than watch the world roll by. What I started doing a few years ago was to write my novel on the way to work. I would run through plots and narrative and dialogue in my head, and then write them down as soon as I got to a computer. It is quite effective.

Q.  When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

A. I tend to concentrate on the main characters. I don’t do an outline, but I imagine what they are like, and how they fit into the story. Then I let them grow organically with the story, adjusting and tweaking as I go. Sometimes this means rewriting a part of the novel, but that is just a part of writing so I don’t mind.

Q. Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

A. Be prepared for rejection, criticism, and a lot of hard work. Forget those fortunate few who beat the odds and became instant bestsellers. Focus instead on becoming a better writer. God may not want you to sell a million copies, but then again He might. Focus on the pleasure of writing. Be prepared to market yourself and your book, even if you cringe at the very idea.

Q. Where can readers find your books and contact information?

My personal site: www.pabaines.com
My publisher: www.splashdownbooks.com
Amazon: http://amzn.to/pFKFca

Q. Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

A. Yes, enormous amounts, especially for any work that I consider a part of my ministry. I feel that, as a Christian writer, I should do nothing without God’s blessings. My prayer used to be: please let my book be published. Now it is: please don’t let my book be published, unless you want it to be.

Q. What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

A. I actually do most of my writing during my lunch break at work. My office can get quite noisy, so I usually listen to music through my headphones. I like Rachmaninoff, or a movie soundtrack if I need some inspiration.

Thanks, Paul, for stopping by.

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Author Interview: Caprice Hokstad

Some of us members of The Lost Genre Guild, a group of Christian spec-fic writers, have set aside the month of October to spotlight one another on our blogs.

Today we have the privilege of meeting Caprice Hokstad, who writes the Ascendancy Trilogy fantasy novels and creates science fiction under the nom de plum of C. F. Vici. She interviewed me on her blog yesterday, and now I’m returning the favor.

I chuckled at her disclaimer, “I have *NOT* read any of these authors’ works…” Well, neither have I, so I’m not going to tell you these stories are must-reads. But I don’t hesitate introduce you to them. We can all try ’em. We might like ’em!

So let’s hear from Caprice:

Q. How long have you been writing?
A. Fiction? About fifteen years.

Q. When did you feel called to write?
A. I don’t feel like I have been “called” to write as some sort of mandate from God. If God tells you to write, of course you should obey, but God hasn’t really told me I have to write. Does a Christian have to be “called” to knit? Or can it just be a hobby? I don’t believe crosses or fish symbols must be woven deep into every design of every scarf in order for knitting to be a legitimate use of a Christian’s time. I enjoy writing and my beliefs will affect everything I write, but I don’t think I am “called” to write.

Q. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
A. I really don’t know. I have a very weird brain and thoughts pop into it without any return address.

Q. What are your thoughts on critique groups?
A. I think they are important for beginners. I also think it’s incredibly hard to find one that is helpful. You need people to understand the genre and you need at least one or two people in the group to know more than you do about the craft. I prefer one-on-one critique “partners” over groups.

Q. Was it hard to develop a writing style?
A. Huh? I’m not even sure I know how to develop a style. I just write. If I have a style, I didn’t do anything to impose it. It’s just me.

Q. Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
A. My biggest block came from limiting myself to working on only “worthy” (i.e. publishable) projects. I am having trouble finding an audience for my published books. So, instead of writing the third book in that trilogy, I spent a lot of “blocked” time looking for a new project that would help me find or build an audience. I came up with a great setting and a good plot for an undersea science fiction, but it’s dead in the water for lack of good characters to pull it off. So then I started writing fanfiction for fun. Once I allowed myself to write for fun and for readers instead of for publishing, I had a lot less trouble with writer’s block. I regularly pump out about 5000 (final draft) words a week now.

Q. Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
A. Yes. More with villains than heroes. But isn’t that what makes it fun? It’s socially acceptable to plot the perfect crime for a character to pull off. Characters can say and do what I can’t.

Q. Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
A. I find scenes difficult to perfect, but not really to bang out. I want a precise progression of thoughts and emotions and I’m never happy until the words produce the exact effect I want. I play with word choices and sentence structure a lot. Do I cry? Yes. But that really isn’t saying much since I cry over movies and TV shows and reading blogs and all kinds of other things too.

Q. Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
A. I didn’t use an outline for The Duke’s Handmaid at all. I made a very rough one for Nor Iron Bars a Cage, but even when I use outlines, they are very loose and I do a lot of seat-of-pants fill in.

Q. What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
A. I want them love the story. I want them to feel elated for the climax, but sad because it’s over. I want to leave them hungry for more. I want them to pass it on to a friend or two or five. I want them to feel strongly enough that they go post a review on Amazon or sit and write me an email just because they feel like they need to talk about it.

Q. Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
A. My short story/mini-novella “Fettered Soul”, which is a prequel to my novels appears in the bestselling anthology “Aquasynthesis” from Splashdown Books. My seaQuest fanfiction is presently available for free at http://UnderseaAdventure.net. I am finally writing the third book of my Ascendancy Trilogy, as yet unnamed, but should be released in 2012.

Q. How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
A. I tell them that any Christian label has been applied by others, not by me. I usually ask that person if they consider Narnia “Christian” and if they say yes, then I point out all the magic, witches, lack of mention of Jesus, bloody battles (or whatever they object to) in that. If they say no, then I say, “Fine, I’m with C.S. Lewis in the mainstream then.”

Q. Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
A. I like swimming and I am obsessed with the ocean. I love the beach, but I don’t go there very much because of driving and the crowds. I hate crowds. I love going to Sea World or the Birch Aquarium when they’re in off-season. I really want to learn to scuba dive someday, but it’s too expensive to consider right now. I also would love to live in an undersea colony.

Q. When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
A. It depends on how important the character is to the story. Minor characters, no, I don’t bother. However, minor characters have been known to grow into main characters and I’ve had to go back and fill in their history in order to use them more extensively.

Q. Where can readers find your books and contact information?
A. http://www.latoph.com.

Q. What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
A. I prefer peace and quiet, but that isn’t always available to me. I never purposely add noise like music or TV, but I live in a mobile home with four other people and our house is situated in a mobile home park where I’m too close to neighbors, so I can’t always escape other people’s noise. I can usually edit with more noise than I can handle during a first draft. Sometimes, if the distraction level is too great, I just have to change modes and do something else that doesn’t require as much concentration (like read email, do facebook). I have been known to sacrifice sleep in order to get good writing time.

 

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Beam Me Up, Scotty!

I was born in the Fifties. Growing up in the sixties, I never dreamed my everyday world would one day contain the technologies it does today.

When I got married in the seventies, every grocery item wore a price sticker, and the cashier had to key in each price. If you’d have told me that in just a few years, an electronic scanner would read them all, and another electronic gizmo would deduct the amount of my purchase from my checking account, I’d have thought you read more science fiction than was good for you. Now, between computers that keep track of your buying habits so they can spit out a coupon tailored to your history and projected needs – satellite TV and radio – GPS devices and Google Earth – email and the Internet – smart phones, smart boards – seems like everything’s smarter than me.

And I think I can write science fiction?

The first two books in my “Gateway to Gannah” series, Story in the Stars and Words in the Wind, involve a bit of space travel. Nevertheless, I consider the stories fantasy, not science fiction, because there’s no scientific basis for any of it. In the third book, Ransom in the Rock, the setting in some parts is a little different, requiring me to envision everyday life in the future on earth. It’s proving a challenge.

While trying to exercise my creaky, old-school imagination, I remembered a quote by a commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office in the late 1800s, who allegedly resigned from his position because “Everything that can be invented has already been invented.” Wanting to make sure I quoted him accurately (a wise precaution, given my fifties-born memory), I looked it up online (SciFi in action!), only to learn that no one from the Patent Office ever said that, according to a knowledgeable-sounding report.

Notwithstanding, my crusty brain wonders: what’s left?

More medical breakthroughs would be welcome, but do we really need any more household gadgets? The older appliances worked better and held up longer than the new ones, so a trend toward quality and durability would be nice. And, of course (and I probably should list this first, not as an afterthought) we’re truly in need of practical energy sources other than fossil fuels – and I’m not talking about ethanol, either.  Food is to eat, not burn in our cars.

All this to say, if you’re looking for nifty gizmos or forward-thinking technologies in my books, you’ll be disappointed, because my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m still trying to figure out how to set the clock on the VCR for Daylight Savings Time.

Yes, I did say VCR, not DVD player. Like I said, I was born in the fifties, when TVs were all in black-and-white, and we only had three channels to watch, but I seldom watched it anyway because I had better things to do. Well, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed – I still don’t watch much TV. Maybe that’s what stunted my imagination.

Is there a point to all this? Not really. Mostly I’m just trying to stimulate my brain. What’s a technology you’d like to see in the future?

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