Age of November


Howdy ho, folks! It’s been a while so I reckon it’s time to chime in with November-centric information.

I’m sure everyone is wondering if I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The answer is no.

Well, I guess that pretty much sums things up.

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The Death of Man

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When mankind died, nobody noticed. Not even mankind. It didn’t happen with an explosion, or a disease, or any kind of apocalyptic event. It just happened.

It started innocuously enough when scientists and technologists created a way to map the brain and create a functional copy on elaborate computer systems. A human mind could then be transferred to the computer and the result would be a ‘program’ that acted like the person would, within the limitations of being stuck without form, voice, or senses.

Because the human mind doesn’t do well with such limitations, virtual worlds were built which the ‘mind programs’ could interact with. Not only that, but multiple ‘mind programs’ could interact with each other and even with people in the real (or ‘outside’) world.
Eventually, the technology became inexpensive enough that nearly anyone could afford to have their minds uploaded to a computer when their bodies reached the end of life. It was comforting to be able to talk to deceased loved ones and actually get responses back, without relying on Ouija boards or sketchy mediums. It was looked at as a form of immortality.

People can be, in general, an impatient lot, especially when it comes to travel. Faster cars, faster planes, faster boats, faster spacecraft all came long because we don’t want to wait to get to point B, especially if it means less time on the beach.

When teleportation was perfected, people cheered! Finally, then can get to Point B in less time that it took to blink. More beach time! Less time commuting!

The way it works is to scan a body at the originating point, map out every detail of every atom, save the information, disperse the molecules of the body, transfer the information to the destination, and then re-group molecules exactly as the original.

Many people were ecstatic. Others realized it was a death machine.

A teleporter, you see, is a cloning device. Or, more accurately, a fax machine.

Consider this: You sit down and write a letter to your cousin with a pen and paper. You fold up the paper and put it in an envelope. You put a stamp on it, drop it in a box. Eventually someone comes to pick up that envelope and through a series of road trips, plane trips, and more road trips it arrives in the mailbox of your cousin. She opens the envelope, takes the paper out, unfolds it and reads it.

It’s exactly the same letter that you wrote. The paper is the exact same one you handled.

Now, sit down and write a letter using a pen and paper. Then put the paper in a fax machine, dial a number, let the machine scan the paper, and take that paper and put it in the shredder. When your cousin picks up the letter from her fax machine it will have the same data (the words you wrote), but it is a completely different piece of paper. Even though the words are the ones you wrote and even look the same, it is not the same.

Or, to be more exact, let’s say we make a clone of Bob. The clone looks exactly the same as Bob A (the original Bob). Bob B (the clone) has the same memories and mannerisms of Bob A. Let’s lock Bob A into a room and send Bob B out into the world.

Bob A’s friends and family are happy because they don’t know that Bob B is a clone. After all, he’s functionally the same as the Bob A they all know and (presumably) love. Bob B goes to Paris and has a great time at parties.

How does Bob A feel about this? He doesn’t. He has no idea what Bob B is up to. Bob A is not Bob B and does not magically experience what Bob B does. Bob A’s life effectively ended when no new experiences were, well, experienced. Bob B didn’t notice and didn’t care because he had all the old memories of Bob A, plus all the news ones that he was making while living the jet set life.

The only difference between this and teleportation is that Bob A is still alive, which he most definitely would not be after all his atoms were disassembled.

The end effect being that anyone who used a teleporter once was deceased while a copy lived on. An artificial person.

The true end came with the perfection of nanotechnology. That would be using molecular sized robots to manipulate molecules, or manipulate atoms to create new molecules. What once could be done by chemistry and nature could now be done on demand by tiny robots.

This led to a major impact on mankind. Devices could be ‘grown’ instead of manufactured. Things could be self-repairing. If a human organ wore out, it could be repaired without surgery. Or replaced completely with a newly grown one. The entire body could be, in fact, continually repaired without the person ever knowing it was going on. Which is an awful lot like how the human body worked originally, except for the limit on how many times it could do that.

It wasn’t long that the scientists and technologists realized that, with a bit of creative programming, a new body could be grown that was similar, if not exactly, like a ‘real’ one.

Make a new body and download one of the ‘mind programs’ that were living in digital heaven into it and you would have a working human.

Except that it wasn’t. It was a copy of a mind living in the copy of a body. The original having been long lost to time and, hopefully, in a different afterlife altogether.

Procreation became an issue. Not that birth was a problem; no, the new facsimile bodies could use the nanobots to build a new embryo. For the sake of tradition, the process could take as long as it always has even though it could be sped up quite a bit. Write some rules about which traits to take from Mom and which to take from Dad, mix them together, and you have yourself a baby. Take what you learned about mapping the human mind and more creative programming and you end up with a new person who lives a long a life.
But it’s not exactly human, is it?

As more and more of these neoteric humans were created (“naturally”, in artificial bodies with minds created by combining the minds of the parents) they outgrew the number of original humans until the last person of mankind faded out.

Nobody is sure when mankind died, when that last ‘real’ person passed away. And why would they? Their mind, copied from the original, would have been placed in an artificial (but totally original-like) body and continued to live.

What we are now are ghosts of those people. Echoes of those who once were.

I’ll Be Right Back

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I was at the grocery store the other day and, when I was done grabbing what I wanted, I ended up in line behind a small girl. She was alone and would, every few seconds, look around the store on her toes. When space cleared up on the conveyer belt she looked around again, a bit anxiously. Then she emptied the cart onto the belt, put down the separator so I could put my things down (why can’t adults do this?), gave me a brief smile, and then looked around anxiously.

I was sympathetic. There were numerous times when an adult would leave me at the checkout line and go off in search of something that they had just remembered.

Then I would do the same dance. Look around for the parent to see if they were on their way back, then look at the person in front of me and see how close they were to being finished. I would then wonder what I would do if that person was done before my parent showed up. I was a kid. I didn’t have money. What would I do if my turn came around and there was nobody there to pay for the stuff? Would the adult behind me get angry for being made to wait? Should I get out of line? What about the stuff on the counter? Should I explain myself or just stay quiet?

The closer the person in front of me got to paying and moving on, the more anxious I would get, sure that my mom or dad wouldn’t get there in time to handle things.

And then, when it seemed like my time was up, my parent would be there and everything would be okay. The weird thing is, they were always just in time.

If there was no problem, the parent would be there just as it was our turn. Sometimes, though, something would be off. Like, the preceding customer would write a check, or the receipt tape would get stuck, or there was an issue with pricing. The parent, in these cases, wouldn’t show up in the middle of this but at the end. Just in time.

In this little girl’s case, the customer she was behind had a problem with the price of something, a coupon, and something that he wanted taken off his bill. It took a while to sort out because a manager had to be called to do an override and there was some confusion about whatever things need to be done in such a case.

And just when it all got cleared up and that first customer was on his way out, the father (I’m guessing) showed up and dropped something else on the belt.

Just. In. Time.

A Box of Memories


I was thinking I wrote this one a little while ago, but it turns out I wrote it a long time ago. This one could also use a little changing.

A Box of Memories

It was a funny sight to see, the man strolling down the street with a box of junk in his arms. I mean funny as in weird, not humorous; it was anything but that. I used to see him at the park when I would sit on a bench and eat my lunch.

He would walk by and sit on the bench next to me. He would paw through his box, lift something out, and tell me about it.

“I remember this,” he started, pulling out a sea shell. “Me and Mona, we were at a beach in Virginia. She loved to swim, couldn’t keep her out of the water until she was too tired to float. Boy, was she a good swimmer, too. Like a mermaid. She could have taught the dolphins a trick or two.”

Then he’d be silent for a moment, looking blank. Sometimes he would pull out another trinket and talk about that or he’d just stand up, silently, and walk away clutching the box.

It didn’t matter what the weather was like. He and I were alike that way. I wouldn’t miss my lunch on a park bench. I’d even rigged a way of keeping an umbrella over me while I ate. I have to admit, too, that I began to enjoy the man and his stories.

The old man reached into the box and pulled out a dried flower. It looked like it was being held together by will power.

“I remember this,” he said, softly. “We didn’t have a fancy wedding. She bought her wedding dress in a thrift store. I just wore my old suit. We went into town after the wedding, just the two of us, wearing our wedding clothes. Everyone treated her like a princess, with her wearing that big dress. She couldn’t get through a doorway but sideways in it. But she was happy that night, like I’d never seen her. And everyone treated her like a princess. The spotlight was on her all the time. We danced and laughed. She didn’t want the night to end, didn’t want to go home and sleep.

“We ended up going to IHop because nothing else was open anymore. Me and her, walking through the dining room with that poofy dress threatening to knock over tables, but no one minded because she looked so regal. The staff fawned over her. My darling was so tired, though, that she put her head down on the table and fell asleep. We all finally got her to the car, though.

He paused for a moment, started to speak, hesitated, then started again.

“She was asleep, but I picked her up, anyway. I was gonna carry her over the threshold, whether she’d remember it or not, I would do it. The next time I did it,” he stopped again, took a breath. “She was in an urn.”

He placed the flower gently in the box, lifted himself up and walked out into the rain.
I didn’t see him again at the park. I didn’t know him, not really, but I grew worried. I started calling the area hospitals and giving out his description.

I found him, finally, at St. Rita’s hospital. I talked to a nurse there. He had collapsed on the street and someone had called an ambulance and brought him there. He was all right but, you know, pretty old and living on the street. He didn’t seem to know who he was or where he was. He seemed to be suffering from amnesia of some kind. Did I know the man? No, not really. But, in a way, I think I knew him better than anyone else.

“Did they bring a box with him?” I asked. No, there was no box. Nothing but the old man.
I spent my next few lunch hours walking the city streets, trying to figure out where the man would be coming from when he came to the park. I looked down alleys, investigated garbage cans. It wasn’t something I meant to do; after all, I didn’t know him, didn’t owe him anything. But, still…

I walked down an alley and saw a box lying on its side with junk falling out of it. I crept up on it, almost afraid that it would bolt. There it was: a seashell, a postcard yellowing around the ragged edges, a dried flower that had seen far better days. I picked up everything that I thought belonged in the box.

“What’s this?” asked the nurse.

“It’s for the old man. It may help him with is amnesia.”

She was skeptical and I don’t blame her. Some guy shows up with a box of trash and says it might cure amnesia is a pretty large pill to swallow. But she took it and I followed to make sure that she would actually give it to him. She did.

The old man poked through the box. He smiled. I heard him say, “I remember” and turned to go.

“Aren’t you going to stay?” the nurse asked me.

No. I didn’t know the man, but I knew his memories. A box of junk it may be to one man, but to another it was a whole lifetime.

Twelve Years of Blogging

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I started this blog back in 2006. That’s a long time ago. Boy, have things changed since then. For one, I had a lot more traffic. I think I say that every year.

Saturday is when the real anniversary day was. I would have posted something then, but I ran into a problem. I couldn’t log in. I tried, but it kept saying the password was wrong. I didn’t think it was, but, whatever.

I requested a password reset and never got the email. I tried several times but nothing was happening. It started to seem like the site had been hacked and taken over.

That would be weird because why? I’ve got nothing. And nothing changed. There were no ads or whatever else springing up. All my wonderful writings were still there.

Still, I started the process to reclaim my blog. Unfortunately, it would be impossible because I didn’t have any of the proof that WordPress would accept.

I didn’t know that at the time. One of the things being asked for was a code in the confirmation email when I started the place. I didn’t remember such an email, but I supposed there must be one.

One of the good things about the Internet is that nothing is ever lost. One of the bad things about the Internet is that nothing is ever lost. In this case it might work out for me. I sorted my emails backwards and looked at the oldest ones I had.

Nothing with a confirmation email. However, there was an email about me changing the administrative password. So I logged in to the original account and sorted that by oldest email first.

Let me tell you, it’s weird as anything looking at emails from casual acquintances, old friends, co-workers… All people I don’t know anymore. To them, they’re ghosts hanging out in old words from a time that doesn’t matter anymore. To them, I probably don’t exist anymore.

It was sad.

And there was no email there. Plenty of emails about other blogs I’d started and left behind, but nothing for the good old GoE. I didn’t quite understand. I get emails to my current address when people follow or like a post. And I found the account from whence I created the blog. I find it hard to believe that I would have deleted it, if I still have wierdo emails that never amounted to anything even when they were relevant.

I started to feel weird. Like, I was going to lose my blog. Forever. I tried to console myself by thinking that I could just start a new one. But, in my heart, I knew it wouldn’t be The Garden of Entropy. A name I’ve carried since running a BBS back in the late 80s and early 90s.

But then I thought, maybe it’s for the best. I don’t really have anything to write about. I’m not a historian, or a super tech nerd type. I don’t really have a lot of interests, and anything I do have an interest in has been covered by better people than me. All I write down is nonsense and the occassional goofball story because I don’t have the imagination or skill to write anything better.

And then I remembered that I had changed the password. Fairly recently. I wasn’t sure why, but I remembered seeing a notice about something and then changing it and then going on with my work.

Work. Where I used my laptop to change the password. I dug the laptop out of my bag and started my email. Sure enough, there was an account on there that I don’t have on my regular computer and, in that account, was a bunch of password reset requests.

Disaster averted. All is well in the world. Etc., and all that.

Now I’m not sure what to do. Take it as a sign that I should be doing something more? Something better? Or that I should just give it up and call it a decade?

These are good questions. I’d ask y’all to weigh in, but nobody ever comments anymore. That saddens me, because I do like interacting with people. Especially people not trying to sell Viagra or whatever.

Things I Don’t Like (Streaming Edition)

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I’m not one to complain. I’m pretty sure anyone that knows me would be quick to agree. I generally stroll through life grinning off things left and right.

Still, there are some things that I just don’t care for. Things that get under my skin. Let’s have a look at some of them. First, a general purpose complaint.

Morphing Ads on Web Pages

Yeah, you know it. You’re reading a web page when all the text gets moved down. You find your place and start reading again when all the text jumps back up again. Sometimes it happens once, sometimes it happens frequently. And it’s annoying as hell. I’ve actually stopped going to a couple of sites because of it. In a lot of ways, I think it’s more annoying than videos that start playing with sound.

Ads on Streaming Service

 

I don’t have cable and don’t usually watch TV over the air. Instead, I rely on a bevy of streaming services to get my boob tube fix. People tend to hate commercials in general, but watching them on a streaming service is much worse because you tend to get the same three ads all the time. And, if you’re binge watching, you watch the same three ads over and over and over and over. And over.

The first few times aren’t so bad, but eventually I start paying attention and some of the things I see (and make up) start getting bizarre.

 

This commercial nearly drove me insane, almost from the start. The setup is that a mother sandwich brings her small child to a deli to see how sandwich babies are made. And, I guess, to eat it. At one point she tells her kid, “Not the lettuce, honey” for no reason.

This drove me totally bonkers for a while because I didn’t understand it. Eventually, I decided the kid was pulling on her lettuce to get her attention. Nowhere in the commercial is the kid visibly tugging on her.

Meanwhile, behind the counter, a mayonnaise bottle spreads his thick, white, bodily fluid over an embryonic sandwich while the mother coos about how great it tastes.

Finally, an old school mayo bottle gives everyone in the shop an incredibly rude gesture (by UK and, probably, European standards).

Seriously, Heinz. Nightmare material.

 

In this commercial, a man fantasizes about killing himself and his family in an automobile wreck. I mean, wow.

 

Drug commercials are always weird because you get ten seconds of how it will make your life wonderful, and then thirty seconds of how it might upset your internal organs, cause explosive diarrhea, make you suicidally depressed, and then just flat-out kill you.

This commercial isn’t like that. What I find odd about it is that

Sometimes it works…

But they have no idea why…

 

In this Old Navy commercial, a gang of young women terrorize the countryside folks by outright stealing their bicycles. They then magically get helmets because bike thieves are a careful lot.

I’m not sure why an industry that has so many years of experience selling ads on TV can’t get streaming commercials right. Hopefully they’ll fix it.

When Commercials Don’t Work

This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s a problem when an ad doesn’t play. Sitting through 90 seconds of commercials (on average) gets worse when an ad doesn’t play because that means it’ll take even longer to get back to the show.

Hulu, for instance, is excellent at telling you that you need to disable your ad blocker. Even if it isn’t active. Even if you don’t even have one installed. But it’s your fault the ad doesn’t play.

Sometimes a commercial will pause and stutter, taking about five minutes to actually finish. Sometimes it flat out won’t do anything. Ever.

In these cases, refreshing the browser is necessary and, almost always, that means you’ll be hit with another round of commercials, maybe a few seconds of show, and then it’s back to the commercials that might have would have played had they not screwed up to begin with.

Finally, there’s

The Recap

Episode recaps made a lot of sense back in the days when you watched a show on a certain day at a certain time or you damn well didn’t watch the show (except for, you know, VCRs and DVRs). Maybe you don’t remember what happened last week. But when you’re binge watching, you’re seeing a recap of what you saw two minutes ago. My memory is pretty bad, but it’s not that bad. And then, of course, it’s watching the same title sequence over and over.

Netflix, at least, fixes that for some shows (mostly their own). More studios should get on the ball with that.

TeleVision ///

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There haven’t been a lot of movies or shows based on pen and paper role playing games. In fact, I think only Dungeons & Dragons has been made, and that was its own kind of awful. Netflix’s Bright is kind of like Shadow Run, but not really. One would think, then, that the field would be wide-open.

But why aren’t there more? I have some theories. First, they aren’t particularly well known. Everybody and their sibling knows what Dungeons & Dragons is. GURPS may be a bit less well known.

Many RPGs tend to be fantasy-based. Eventually, one fantasy world may seem similar to any other fantasy world, especially if they’ve got the same Tolkien-esque people in them (humans, elves, orcs, etc.). Even ones based on science fiction can tend to blur together.

Also, the thing with RPGs is how they work. The mechanics behind the game. Players care more about how stats are generated and manipulated throughout a game then a casual observer would be. In a film or TV show, the idea probably wouldn’t even make an appearance.

So what would be a good RPG to bring to the screen (large or small)? What would be different than all the rest?

Paranoia

 

Paranoia takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where people live in a large underground city named Alpha Complex. The city is ruled over by a computer (“The Computer”). The Computer is obsessed with the idea of being overthrown by communists. Or mutants. Or a number of things. being a communist or a mutant is treasonous. Not obeying The Computer is treasonous. Questioning The Computer is treasonous. So is being a member of a secret society.

Games of Paranoia usually revolve around a team of “troubleshooters.” These are people that go around shooting trouble for The Computer. All members of the team have a mutant power. They’re also all a member of a secret society (which may or may not be Communists).

Secret societies are generally at odds with each other.

Society in Alpha Complex is a caste society defined by colors. The colors range from Infrared (black) to Ultraviolet (white) with everything in-between following the ROY G BIV scheme. Troubleshooters must be at least Red level.

So, maybe a team of troubleshooters gets put together and handed an envelope with their orders. The envelope is marked “Top Secret: Orange clearance only.” Now, they can’t read their orders without opening the envelope (they’re all Red level) because that would be treason. They can’t really ask The Computer what the orders are because they were very clearly handed to them. The Computer doesn’t make mistakes; to imply that it does is treasonous.

Assuming they get past a snafu like that, they then have to worry about completing their mission, completing the task given to them by their secret society, stopping other members of the team from completing their secret society mission, filling out bureaucratic forms, waiting for equipment (that may or may not work), and not being accused of treason.

I think that would make for a fun and exciting show.

TeleVision ][

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Since I’m on the topic (so to speak), movie adaptations of video games hasn’t had a stellar track record. There are probably numerous reasons why this is and that could take an entire article in itself.

What games might make good movies or TV shows?

Mystic Marathon

Way back in 1984, Williams Electronics released a conversion kit for a few of their games that changed them from whatever they were (Defender, Joust, Bubbles, etc.) to Mystic Marathon.

Mystic Marathon was a game involving horned, elf-like people (possibly called Benkins) participating in a foot race across several islands and the water that separated them. While the computer controlled people have horns and a full head of hair, the player controller character is balding and probably older than the others.

The point of the game, is to win the race. Or, at least, to finish in the top three positions. In Mystic Marathon, there are no lives to lose but the game ends when you don’t finish in one of the top three spots. There are a lot of things working against the player, though, which serve as a delay while the other racers zoom ahead. There are also a lot of things that can help the player get past the other players and obstacles.

Obstacles include things like living trees that throw apples at the runners (knocking them down, causing a delay), trolls that pound the runners into the ground, whirlpools and sharks, and wizards that cast a spell that make runners small (and slower).

Helpful objects are face-like caves that can move a runner from one end of a lake to the other, a dragon that a runner can slide down the back of and fly over the intervening water obstacle to another island, holes in the ground that can be beneficial (or not!), and a water sled pulled by… some sort of water horse thing. I don’t remember.

There are bonus objects like jewels that can be grabbed for more points but can also delay the player (like the pearl in a giant oyster that can snap shut at any moment).

The whole thing is very whimsical and not having to lose ‘lives’ is a nice, non-violent way of losing.

Why this game was never made into a cartoon during the 1980s is beyond me. It contains a lot of things that, I feel, lend itself perfectly to being a cartoon. Either a series or a movie. If Pac-Man could be a cartoon series, than so could this.

As a bonus, this game had a woman, Kristina Donofrio, as the lead programmer.

Fallout

There have been a couple of amateur series made of the post-apocalyptic and stuck in an alternate 1950s inspired game, Fallout. The very first game starts out with the player needing to find a ‘water chip’ to save their underground vault. I think this would make an excellent TV-MA series on HBO or Netflix or something. As long as it stays TV-MA.

If I were in charge of such a project I wouldn’t stick strictly to the games, but pick and choose different portions of different games to cover, along with creating new stories. With monsters, mutants, ghouls, and various evil humans to contend with it would be a pretty rich field for stories.

Bioshock

Bioshock, the game, takes place in a mostly abandoned underwater city named Rapture. It’s a 1930s art deco inspired place. Instead of making a movie or series about the game, as it is, I’d do one about before the tragedy occurred that left it dilapidated.

That story probably wouldn’t work well as a game, but I think it would work very well in a different medium.

Deus Ex

A world full of people who have augmented their bodies with nano technology and the non-augmented people who dislike and distrust them. I think this could work really well, as long as things didn’t get too super-powered. This is another one that wouldn’t necessarily have to follow the games storyline, but exist in the same world.

TeleVision

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It seems everyone is getting in on the sci-fi/fantasy kick these days, what with Netflix and their Altered Carbon and Bright, Amazon with some weird pre-Hobbit show and Conan the Barbarian thing going on. HBO, of course, with Game of Thrones and Westworld. And probably Hulu with something.

A lot of them are based on books that I never heard of (not Tolkien and Howard, though). There’s such a huge catalog of older books, though, that are probably still ripe for the picking and I find it disappointing that they’ve never been picked up. Or, if they were, they were never finished. Or started.

I’ll list some of them even though nobody cares about what I think.

Elric of Melniboné – Michael Moorcock

Dark anti-heroes are a thing right now, and Elric has a slew of books to take material from, yet, despite some starts and stops, he’s never been on the big or small screen. There’s violence aplenty, so that should draw people.

Various – Robert Sheckley

 

Some of Sheckley’s work has been turned into movies, with The 10th Victim probably being the most known. Condorman was also his, for good or ill. Oh, and Freejack was based on his Immortality, Inc. Nobody remembers Freejack. Not even me. And I saw it in the theater.

The thing is, Sheckley was way ahead of his time and most of his stories are funny, in a dystopian kind of way. Some are rather scathing commentaries on the human condition.

He has a plethora of short stories and novels that can be used for a series like Black Mirror or Electric Dreams. It’s a shame, really, that Sheckley has been largely forgotten because, really, the man was a genius.

Even though he was writing back in the 1950s (and earlier) and 1960s, a lot of his stuff is still timely today. Stories like a kid not wanting to grow up to follow in his parents footsteps of being wizards, but dreaming to be an accountant. Or stories where people buy a lot of useless crap and pass the debt down to their children. Of drones (timely!) programmed with an AI to hunt down criminals who haven’t done anything criminal yet, just to decide to wipe out humanity and people have to design a new drone to hunt the old drones. Of two guys getting in the business of hauling wildlife on their spaceship hauler and finding out that none of them have compatible biomes.

Seriously, it’s criminal that his stories have not been used. Recently. And well. For a change.

Xanth – Piers Anthony

 

I’m going to mention this mostly because I would love to see someone try and tackle this. In a world comprised of puns (shoe trees that grow shoes and things of that nature), I think people would lose their minds trying to bring this to a visual medium.

Blue Adept — Piers Anthony

One world, two dimensions; one is all technology while the other is all fantasy. One man bops back and forth between the two working his way up the social and economic ladder on the tech side, while being a magical adept on the fantasy side. Also, there would be tons of nudity, so that should draw some viewers.

Silverlock — John Myers Myers

A rather unlikable man is cast adrift after a shipwreck and ends up in a strange land. I don’t think a movie could do this justice, but a mini-series might. It’s full of references to different legends and myths, full of songs, and is just a great read. I think it would make for a great watch if the cast were right.

Various — Alan Dean Foster

Honest to God, the man writes just about every movie novelization that exists. Hasn’t anyone tried to make a movielization (that’s a word, I’m sure) of one his books? Pip and Flinx? A boy and his mini-dragon?

The Spellsinger series where a college student/wannabe musician ends up in a fantasy land full of intelligent animals?

He’s written about a million books by now, surely somebody could find one they found interesting enough to work with.

Garrett, PI — Glen Cook

A hardboiled detective in a world with elves, humans, centaurs, faeries, trolls, and the occasional god. In a fantasy setting. Surely this is enticing to someone out there?

Of course, some folks might not want their writing turned into TV or movies, and that’s all right. I guess. I suppose it’s possible at least one of these has been made into a movie, but it obviously wasn’t good (Sheckley) or was a long time ago (Sheckley, again). I say give it another try.

Futureworld 2

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Some people don’t much care for having something like a ‘smart speaker’ in their home. Since the devices are always listening in order to recognize when they’re being spoken to, some people are afraid that their conversations are being picked up and used for some nefarious purposes.

I do not have this problem. Nothing even vaguely interesting happens in my apartment. The worst that could happen is that a computer would record two birds screeching raucously at each other.

But I don’t have something like an Amazon Echo because I don’t want to come home one day and find out that the birds ordered a bunch of stuff. I had enough problems with trying to play with the XBox and having my parrot say, “Xbox!” and bringing me back to the main menu. Besides that, I don’t know what I would use it for.

A self-driving car (sorry, I mean, Automobile), on the other hand, I would use. Mostly for going to and from work. But I don’t want any of the sissy current cars. No, I want a full-fledged drive itself vehicle so I can just sit there and read or play games. I would use my other car for fun driving.

I’m amazed at the small devices we have these days. I grew up in the era of 8-bit computers like the Apple //, Atari 400/800, Commodore VIC-20, and all of that. The highest resolution on the Atari computers was 320×192 in two stunning colors. My phone has a screen resolution of 2436 x 1125. I could fit (I’m no good at math, so work with me here) about 7 Atari screens across, and 6 down. so that’s… 42 Atari Hi-Res screens? Wow. The larger Apple Watch only has 312 pixels across, but 390 down. So, two screens cut off on one side (or both sides, if you want it centered). On a watch. In more than two colors. That’s really something.

Well, I find it interesting.