Panology – an A to Z study guide [Part 1]

With Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series inching closer to television screens, a question resurfaces, a question I’ve been asking ever since first reading these two works of classic science fiction, both of whom have been fighting an eternal battle for the number one spot on my favorites list.

(This is the first of three posts.)

Hyperion-movie

What makes these stories so great?

For me it’s the scope of these novels. It’s how the authors infuse a multitude of scientific disciplines and morph them into the plot. This little project is intended as a study guide for me to use and others if they choose, and aims to list as many topics and fields of study as possible. It’ll be an ongoing process as I probably will miss a few academic disciplines along the way. Continue reading “Panology – an A to Z study guide [Part 1]”

The Fantasy Federation of Europe

lossless-page1-800px-European_Federalist_Flag.tifIt is sad to watch a great nation bludgeon another weaker nation, a supposed ally and friend, into submission and humiliation, especially when both sides are at fault over a debt situation that has spiraled out of control. Yes, Greek voters did take the easy path since the 1970’s. I myself remember arguing against further integration back in the summer of 1991, when I visited the place. Older folk and younger kids, die-hard communists and fascists alike were all for it. I nearly got stabbed when I stated, “One day German tanks will be rolling down the streets of Athens once more…”tanks

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Mars! One Way

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It’s really hard not to facepalm when confronted by headlines stating that 100,000 have signed up for a one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch, non-profit (yes, that’s right, non-profit) company called Mars One is collecting human specimens, and raising six billion dollars, to send these people some 225 million kilometres, one way, to the planet Mars.

They call it colonization. They market it as a “stepping stone in human galactic expansion.”

Yes, that’s right, Galactic.

Even reading interviews with some of the applicants really drives home what insanity dwells in modern people’s minds. Some even suggesting that this is how the discovery of America come about, others considering birthing and raising children on the surface of this new frontier.

Unbelievable.

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Supernations, Mega City-States and Virtual Countries

Writing science fiction gives an author the opportunity to have a go at predicting the future. For me, the best tool I always find useful is this; in order to build a world in which to set the novel, you start by going back into history. ‘To see the future one must look into the past’ and follow the trends. In the case of ‘A Hostile Takeover’ I began by asking ‘What is a nation? A state? A country?’ and then went on to research different types of sovereignties throughout history. I followed the trends and discovered the future of the world’s political landscape is obvious and surprising. The one prediction that seems most definite among all the others is that the nation states we live in today are not static, rigid institutions, but evolving, changing political creatures.

Supernations ImageOne obvious development is the trend towards nation progressing into supernationhood. Historically, growing and successful communities constantly expanded to accommodate the increasing power of the citizens of these states. A town grows into a city-state; a city-state turns to empire. Up until last century ’empire’ was a natural progression for any nation blessed with the position of economic power. However, empires that refused to evolve by the time the twentieth century came along struggled to survive. The spread of democracy made sure of this. Ever since the city-state of Athens experimented with mixing democracy and empire, large dominions struggled or faltered once injected with representative government. Continue reading “Supernations, Mega City-States and Virtual Countries”

Cryptonium

Halfway through 2011 I came across the phenomenon of Bitcoin, and my head went into a tail spin. This was a revolution. I felt it in my bones. But I was reluctant to buy in and profit from it. At the time, it had the aura of an elaborate, hi-tech scam.  The ultimate in electronic pyramid schemes. And the amount of hacking going on against the bitcoin exchanges (run from servers in peoples garages) didn’t help things either. I felt it was never intended as a alternative currency. Who in their right mind would trade commodities online or shop with it. Sure, it (kind of) bypassed third parties and fees,  and it seemed easy to use. But once you send off a bitcoin to some address that is it. It’s irreversible. There is no redress. Online fraud using bitcoins leaves no paper trail to physically follow. Although there is an electronic trail, how does one place trust in such a new system?

Even drug dealers would be hesitant to use this nascent technology. Imagine Tony Montana rocking up to a meeting with the Colombians with a laptop?

 

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You want to give me the bitcoins, or do I kill your brother first, before I kill you?” “This focking blockchain is 1.5 focking gigabytes. So why don’t you try sticking your head up your ass? See if it fits.” “Okay, Caracicatriz. You can die too. It makes no difference to me.”

 

 

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