Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Science fiction’ Category

Businesses taking powers that properly belong only to government: Uber, for example

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Read this article by T.C. Sottek at The Verge: “Uber has an army of at least 161 lobbyists and they’re crushing regulators.” And from the outset Uber has ignored the restrictions of the law, often in letter as well as in spirit, as though the rules did not apply to them—because Uber was making its own rules. That’s the mindset of the company. “We’re going to disrupt things and break shit.” Well, shit is well and truly being broken. If people do not wake up a little, we’re in for some tough sledding. John Twelve Hawks doesn’t touch it, though he certainly points the direction in his trilogy that beings with The Traveler. Highly readable.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2014 at 1:55 pm

Meme competition at its most direct

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John Twelve Hawks, in The Dark River: Book Two of the Fourth Realm Trilogy deescribes on page 106 (location 1483-1506) an all-out meme warfare, hand-to-hand combat. The speaker is one of the Brethern—basically, a confederacy of the powerful and wealthy with the deliberate aim of controlling human society (for the benefit of all, of course).

“Our new computer center in Berlin uses conventional technology, but it’s still quite powerful. We’ve also created bot nets of cooperating computers around the world that obey our commands without the owner’s knowledge….”

Lines of computer code appeared on the middle monitor behind the podium. As Reichhardt spoke, the computer code became smaller and smaller until it was condensed into a black square.

“We’re also expanding our use of computational immunology. We have created self-sustaining, self-replicating computer programs that move through the Internet like white blood cells in the human body. Instead of looking for viruses and infections, these programs search for infectious ideas that will delay the establishment of the Panopticon.”

On the screen, the tiny square of code entered a computer. It reproduced itself and then was transmitted to a second computer. Rapidly, it began to take over an entire system.

“Initially, we used computational immunology as a tool for discovering our enemies. Because of the problems with the quantum computer, we turned our cyber leukocytes into active viruses that damage computers filled with information that is determined to be antisocial. The program requires no maintenance once it is released into the system.”

There it is: memes deliberately hindering the reproduction of other memes: killing off competing memes.

The novel resumes with the description that doubtless matches some current NSA project:

“But now I will turn to the Hauptgericht—the ‘main course’ of our banquet. We call it the Shadow Program….”

The monitor went dark and then showed the computer-generated image of a living room. Looking like one of the mannequins used to test car safety, a figure sat on a straight-backed chair. His face and body were comprised of geometric shapes, but he was recognizably human—a man.

“The use of electronic surveillance and monitoring has reached a crucial fusion point. Using both government and corporate sources, we have all the data necessary to track an individual during his entire day. We’ve simply combined it into one system—the Shadow Program. Shadow creates a parallel cyber-reality that constantly changes to reflect the actions of each individual. For those members of the Brethren who would like more information after this talk, I’m warning you—the Shadow Program is…” Reichhardt paused, searching for a word. “I would call it verführerisch.”

“Which means beguiling,” Mrs. Brewster explained. “Seductive.”

“Seductive. An excellent word.

“In order to show what the Shadow Program can do, I’ve chosen one member of the Brethren as our subject. Without his knowledge, I have established his duplicated self within our system. Photographs from passport and driver’s license databases are converted into a three-dimensional image. Using medical records and other personal data, we can establish weight and height.”

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2014 at 12:52 pm

32 scifi novels you should read

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Interesting list and I’ve read all but one (and a secondhand copy of that is on its way to me). Philip K. Dick was indeed a force to be reckoned with, though I certainly would have included The Man in the High Castle. And why isn’t Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep included? Etc.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 October 2014 at 8:40 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction

Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep

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I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this novel. Doing a quick re-read.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 September 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction

Be careful what you write

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UPDATE: There was more than the novels. Here’s a follow-up.

A teacher wrote a science-fiction novel set in the far future (2902), and in the novel are two school shootings (a topic I imagine most school teachers think about from time to time, given their responsibilities).

Apparently authorship is now considered some sort of crime. Robby Soave posts at

A Dorchester County, Maryland, teacher was taken in for an “emergency medical evaluation,” suspended from his job, and barred from setting foot on another public school. Authorities searched his school, Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, for weapons. As classes resumed, parents worried that their children were in danger, so police decided to remain on the premises to watch over them.

What happened? The teacher, Patrick McLaw, published a fiction novel. Under a pen name. About a made-up school shooting. Set in the year 2902.

If you’re having trouble figuring out which part of that was criminal, or negligent, or even inappropriate, you’re not alone. From WBOC:

Early last week the school board was alerted that one of its eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace’s Lane Middle School had several aliases.  Police said that under those names, he wrote two fictional books about the largest school shooting in the country’s history set in the future.  Now, Patrick McLaw is placed on leave.

Dr. K.S. Voltaer is better known by some in Dorchester County as Patrick McLaw, or even Patrick Beale.  Not only was he a teacher at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, but according to Dorchester Sheriff James Phillips, McLaw is also the author of two books: “The Insurrectionist” and its sequel, “Lillith’s Heir.”

Those books are what caught the attention of police and school board officials in Dorchester County.  “The Insurrectionist” is about two school shootings set in the future, the largest in the country’s history.

Phillips said McLaw was taken in for an emergency medical evaluation. The sheriff would not disclose where McLaw is now, but he did say that he is not on the Eastern Shore. The same day that McLaw was taken in for an evaluation, police swept Mace’s Lane Middle School for bombs and guns, coming up empty.

But coming up empty did not stop the authorities from punishing McLaw: . . .

Continue reading.

And here’s a follow-up story by Soave.

Surely there must be some other reason, right? Surely.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 September 2014 at 8:36 am

“Rise Up from Science Fiction Monoculture!”

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 August 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction

Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon, dies at 86

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A powerful book—and a surprisingly good movie. Here’s a brief obituary in the Washington Post.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 June 2014 at 8:02 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction


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