Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WEP - A Picture Worth 1000 words: Infinity and Nuit Blanche

The WEP July Challenge
An image or a picture can trigger memories, beliefs and imagination. Here are my offerings.


INFINITY

Fort Jefferson
A prison
Soldiers and Civilians
The Dry Tortugas


The Archways of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Fla., by DG Hudson


In our lives, there are many doors, some open to joy or insight, some to sadness, pain or loss. Life takes no notice of who you are or what your plans may be. Infinity shown as openings or archways can also represent hope that perhaps the next opening will lead to better times.  The road continues whether we fall by the wayside or not. Sometimes there is a choice at the fork in the road and at other times, we are at the behest of Fate.


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Nuit Blanche

Paris, France
It's a City Party
Exploring culture in the streets
The traffic is a parade.
So many bright lights=White Night


Nuit Blanche on the Rue de Rivoli, Paris, by Green Eye, prop. DG Hudson


Nuit Blanche (White Night) is an arts festival or city party which provides 'after hours'  free access to various forms of culture. Film, visual art and performing arts are staged at outside venues and certain galleries and locations. The Nuit Blanche is celebrated in the first week of October in Paris.

This image was captured from the fourth floor of a residential apartment building on the Rue de Rivoli.

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Previous post A to Z Blog Challenge 2012: N = Nuit Blanche, Paris
http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/n-nuit-blanche-paris-to-z-blog.html

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Have you ever heard the term Nuit Blanche? Have you heard of the Dry Tortugas or Garden Key? Do you find it easy to be inspired by an image?

Please leave a comment to let me know you dropped by and I'll respond.
I apologize for the brevity of my entry to this month's challenge, fiction was not an option.

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Write, Edit, Publish!

Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish! aka WEP
Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. WEP can help you practice short writing. It's a good way to start story ideas.


Write…Edit…Publish! welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.


***
Don't forget to visit the other posts on the July signup.

Next Challenge: August - Taking Chances
 
Owner/Originator: Denise Covey at her website.
 
***

References

Photographs by DG Hudson and Green Eye.

Wiki on Fort Jefferson
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Jefferson,_Florida

Link to info Wiki on Nuit Blanche
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuit_Blanche


Denise Covey's WEP information
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.ca/

***

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ROBOT Uprisings - A Book Review


AI - Artificial Intelligence. Can they be trusted? What if they don't follow the Three Laws of Robotics* or any other Human imposed code of conduct?





ROBOT UPRISINGS


Including authors Cory Doctorow, Hugh Howey, Jeff Abbott, Ernest Cline, John McCarthy, and more, Robot Uprisings contains new stories based on a common theme. Open your awareness to the possibilities and the dangers that we imagine if we share our world with an entity that is manufactured, not born. Seventeen stories of which I've highlighted six authors. This is another library find; I can't refuse a book with 'robots' in the title.


A Sampling:

Cory Doctorow - Epoch

A system wide rollover is due, like Y2K, and everyone is making preparations to ride out the time, including the robots.

***
Hugh Howey - Executable

Beware the reprogrammable computerized items in your home, like that little Roomba. And the fridge, the microwave. . .

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Ernest Cline - The Omnibot Incident

What if you got your own robot for Christmas? And it was better than anything you had imagined? Be cautious. When something seems better than it is, there might be a reason. . .

***

John McCarthy - The Robot and the Baby

Delightful jab at future tech and privacy/freedom issues. This was fun to read, as it incorporated the media element in the future, and how little actual privacy we may have. Babies - robots don't do baby care, until now.

***

Seanan McGuire - We are all Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War

A story parents should read, about a Pied Piper of the future. Educational robots - can learn as well as teach. Beware.

***

Jeff Abbott - Human Intelligence

After the takeover, they wanted to understand humans. Why? To become more like us or to better break us? Someone had resisted them. They, the conquering robots, want to know why and how?

***

The Theme: What you can do, we can do better OR come the robot revolution. . .


Robot Uprisings, Vintage Books, Vintage Original Series, Edited by Daniel H. Wilson, and John Joseph Adams, Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014. Daniel writes robotic-themed novels, one of which has been slated for film by Steven Spielberg. John Joseph Adams is the editor of digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and other interesting projects.

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Would you like your own robot? Are you worried about Artificial Intelligence taking over? Have you read any of these authors I've mentioned? Or heard of them?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for visiting. I'll respond!

***

References

* I. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics

Robots with Brains
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/roboticexplorers/f_robotics.html

***

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Stairway in Paris - Romance a la WEP


Anything can happen in Paris. Approach it with love, adapt to its rhythms. . .as Madeleine must do when she meets a man in an unlikely place in her new apartment building on the rue de Rivoli.




JUNE 24-26 WEP - Romance is the Challenge


A Stairway in Paris

As she pushed the eight foot doors inward in a building that would now be home, Madeleine saw the small lobby, one side faced with a huge mirror and the other painted in two neutral tones. Opening the door wider, she pulled in the two valises, pushed the door back into place and locked it. 

Before her she saw a circular stairway of low-rise stairs, but no elevator. There was nothing else to be done, but to pull them up by herself. My arms will be sore for a week, how could I not check that?

Her apartment, number 303, was leased for a year. That meant four floors up from ground level she had a small piece of Paris with wrought iron windows and a small kitchen. In some older buildings, a lobby like this one would have a small elevator which would hold two people or four suitcases, but not this one.

She started up the stairs before she heard someone coming down. She had one suitcase by the handle and the other she pulled behind. I can't stop now, I'll never make it if I do. She kept going. The footsteps came closer until a dark-haired young man came around the curve of a turn in the stairway. She glanced up surprised, hoping he would stand aside and let her pass.

"Excusez-moi . . ." he said, watching the petite young woman struggle with the two valises by herself.

"Pardon, excuse-moi, Monsieur, these cases are as heavy as they look, please let me pass."

Stunned for a moment, he let her go past before he found his voice.

"Oui, but may I assist with your valise?"

"Pardon-moi?"

He repeated in part English, part French and pointed to her suitcase.

"Oh. Oui, merci."

Gaston carried the heavier valise and followed behind. Madeleine's arms and shoulders were starting to feel the strain when she finally arrived on the third level. I should have brought the suitcases one at a time, but it's my art tools, my work.

"This valise is heavy, too heavy for a mademoiselle."

"Perhaps, but what else can a 'poor' mademoiselle do but try?"

"Ah, you put me in place? I didn't mean it that way."

She grinned and offered a handshake, stopping halfway. "Non, certainly not. I'm Madeleine Lafitte. I appreciate the wit and your help with these bags. It's art equipment."



Bistrot Marguerite Napkin, by DG Hudson
 
 

He took her offered hand in his, but only held it, he didn't kiss it. "I am Gaston Chambord, pleased to meet you. I study art too, when I'm not working at the Bistro Marguerite*. It's not far from here."

He let go of her hand reluctantly. "I live down at the far end, number 309. We're neighbors."

"I was lucky to meet you on the stairs, thank you again." She walked to the door to see him out.

"You are welcome, Madeleine. Next time, maybe we can have coffee and talk. Au revoir."

"Oui, that would be nice. Au revoir!" I wonder why he didn't kiss my hand? I thought that always happened. . .

After Gaston left, she unpacked her tea kettle and made hot tea. She would have to look for a café in a few hours. But she couldn't stop thinking about this man she had met on the stairway. He had helped save her from a dislocated shoulder. A bit of a hero. What was the name of the place where he said he worked?

Later, she found the Bistro Marguerite as she took a walk at dusk for that purpose. Near the Hotel de Ville, this café glowed warmly on the street corner near the Seine River. She didn't see Gaston among the staff at the front, so she sat in the outside area where you could look about the evening streets. As she sat wondering if she'd be able to decipher the menu, one of the other waiters came to her table.


Bistrot Marguerite, Paris, by DG Hudson


It was not Gaston, but another waiter who spoke English well enough to help with her order. He suggested either Cod cooked the French way or Grilled Salmon. She ordered grilled herbed salmon with slivered green beans and eyed the outside décor while she waited. Her attention wandered to the Seine and the streets beside the bistro. Several couples walked by, enjoying the night and being in Paris. They looked in to see what people were eating, she looked out to see if they were tourists or locals. As if she could tell.

She had a small book to read while she sipped her wine and water. As the waiter brought her order, she looked up and saw a friendly smile.

"Madeleine, you found the Bistro Marguerite! My friend asked me to attend the young mademoiselle's order, so I help him out of course and then I see it is you. The food here is tres bon."

"This smells wonderful. I hoped you were working so I could thank you again for helping me with my luggage."

"Luggage? Ah, the valise. No problem. Coffee? Maybe a dessert, au gratis?"

"Merci, with cream, please."

"I'm glad you came by. I'd like to walk back with you, but I'm still working."

"Are you finished soon?"

"Oui, in twenty minutes."

"I could wait, I might get lost."

"Exactly. I'll bring the dessert."

The lights dimmed behind them as they left the restaurant, hand in hand. Walking slowly and stopping to admire this or that, they took an hour to cover a ten minute walk.

***

END of Part I, A Stairway in Paris.

***

*Link to 'Paris Posts' tab, on Bistros and Sidewalk cafés, including 'Bistro Marguerite'.

NOTE: It's not a good idea to address a waiter in France as garçonIt's considered a rude or derogatory expression. Address the waiter as monsieur. 

***

Do you take the stairs often? Have you ever had to lug your own heavy suitcases up the stairs? Are you a fan of the genre romantic story? How about a romantic tragedy?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond. PS - Writing romance is a stretch for me, so feedback is welcome. This is a side story of a work-in-progress; there will be more in a future WEP.  

Update - correction June 30th, thanks to ABFTS.

***

Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish! aka WEP
Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. I've also met fellow bloggers with the same penchant for responding to Denise's challenges. WEP can help you practice short writing. It's a good way to start story ideas.


Write…Edit…Publish! welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.

Next Challenge: July - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Owner/Originator: Denise Covey at her website.


For July - December 2014 Challenges:


July-December Challenges at Denise Covey's Site



Denise Covey WEP Site:
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.ca/

***

Friday, June 13, 2014

BLADE RUNNER - Then and Now Movie Blogfest

Do we change our perceptions of movies as we go through life? 

Then (1980s) and Now
June 13, 2014





 
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Blade Runner

A near future dystopian story, this movie gave us a new kind of hero. At first, he's all business, then things start to change. Harrison Ford, as Rick Deckard is the retired special operative of the police who is called back to track down Replicants on the run. Released in 1982, this film adaptation by director Ridley Scott is based on a 1968 novel by Philip K. Dick, called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
 





Some Replicants defy the ban on returning to Earth, and are hunted down by police operatives called 'Blade Runners'. The setting is Los Angeles in the year 2019. Film-noir techniques are used, giving the story an ominous tone. Recommended.

THEN
 
The film raised idealogical questions:
-who has the right to decide how long we or other entities get to exist?
-should the 'fail-safe' of an expiry date be removed from artificial intelligence which interacts with humans?
-what are the consequences of the replicants living longer lives?

NOW

There is a suggestion woven into the movie that humans might not be adverse to robotic entities that look exactly like humans. The suggestion of hunting for rogue humanoid robots seems more likely now than it would have in 1982 when Blade Runner was released.

Blade Runner could represent our future, depending on the choices we make now and in the near future. They still had ethnic food takeout, but pollution had won out in the atmosphere. This film is a favorite.

***

Are you a fan of Blade Runner or have you seen the movie? Any thoughts on humanoid robots? Do you know about the Cephalopod Coffeehouse? Are you in the blogfest?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.

***
Thanks to the four bloggers hosting this blogfest!   

Hosts:
The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock. If you don't know these names, then please check those links, or the list at A. Squid's where you'll also find the other participants on this theme.

Assignment:
Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger and have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse. Post on Friday, June 13th and check the list at any of the host links above. Anyone interested in joining the Cephalopod Coffeehouse,should drop by the Armchair Squid's for the June gathering on the 27th.  Details at the coffeehouse.

 
THE LIST to continue on to the other bloggers.
 
Original post for the blogfest: The Armchair Squid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner Wiki on the movie, Blade Runner
 
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman, A Review

What is a skinwalker?

In some Native American legends, a skinwalker is a person with the supernatural ability to turn into any animal he or she desires. Most often seen as coyote, wolf, fox, eagle, owl or crow, the skinwalker is said to base the form chosen on the specific abilities needed.









SKINWALKERS

Officer Jim Chee's trailer is shot three times, but misses Jim. Who is trying to kill him? Everyone, including Jim, is at a loss to explain who would want him dead. The stray cat he allowed to live under the juniper bush had warned him minutes before the shots rang out.

Three recent murders with confusing clues sit in the top file on Leaphorn's desk. Are they related? No one wants to answer questions, yet they want to discuss the connections between the dead and the living. Lieutenant Leaphorn tells Jim to start questioning the locals for leads that might turn up. Bone beads were found in two places, insidious clues pointing to witchery.

Lured to a remote area of the Navajo land, Officer Jim Chee is alone when he begins to see the connection between some of the elements of the murder. His understanding improves after being nailed by the same shotgun. . .


A NY Times Bestseller, Skinwalkers has been reprinted several times, the last reprint in 2011. Hillerman also wrote Shapeshifters. I recommend both titles if you like suspense. These are modern stories of the southwest with an element of the past.

***

Have you read any of Tony Hillerman's work? Are you familiar with Navajo or southwestern legends?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.

***

References - Skinwalking:

Skinwalkers can be called shapeshifters, another term that describes the ability to assume other forms, generally for dark purposes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin-walker Skin-walker wiki

http://www.navajolegends.org/navajo-skinwalker-legend/ Skinwalkers

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

WEP - Failure Or is it? A Crossroads


This month's WEP fiction continues a previous entry from March, with an excerpt:

Part 1 - My Eyes Don't Lie, Do They?

It is written:  We were the last ship of twelve that departed together from our dying planet. Our ships could go no further by the time we arrived at this cluster of rocks, as our onboard systems were starting to fail. Ship's historian, SRS-1 Colony




Asteroid Images, Science NASA


The log entry was signed and dated one month after the asteroid colony was established. As I left the library viewing room, I heard someone call, "Wait up, Dak!"

I know that voice. He's the only person that agrees with my ideas. Both of us want to escape this place one day. First, we need a map. . .then, we need to hide aboard a seeker transport.

"Hi Rafe! I've got training duty for this time block. Can we meet after that?"

"You haven't heard the news then, have you?"

"What news?" My heart jumped.


End of part 1



***

Part 2 - A Crossroads

"We're getting visitors. Two humans from the planets. . .our Rangers on patrol found them on the surface of asteroid AC89."  

"Found them? Were they lost?"

"They were collecting crust samples. Didn't even have their guns activated when they were approached. It's what saved them though, the two Rangers knew they weren't pirates."

"I can't believe a spacer wouldn't have his gun ready. Are they here?"

"No, they aren't prisoners. In two shifts time, the news alert said they are coming back. This will be our best chance to stowaway, while everyone attends the welcoming ceremony. The visitors have to leave their ship somewhere on Landing level."

"But they'll have guards, Rafe. Armed guards."

"Are we going to do this or not? You getting scared?"

"I'm not scared. We'll do it."



WEP - monthly bloghop



Two workshifts later, the strangers returned and were taken to be presented to the leader of the colony. The honor guards appointed to accompany the visitors followed the colony delegation as it left. 

Later . . .

On the edges of Landing level, we keep to the shadows as we look for the ship which delivered the visitors. Our black surface suits make us nearly invisible. We only have a certain amount of time to get inside and find a place to hide. Crouching, we move along the hanger walls, stopping when we reach the flyer. Its flat black body seems to disappear in the darkness, built for stealth and accented with a thin blue line which ended in a 'V' on the main entry hatch. One day, I'm going to pilot a beauty like that. 

Rafe interrupted Dak's thoughts and motioned him to move on. Workers and maintenance 'bots would report for duty soon. Then, a sound off to their right, a faint whirring noise. They dropped to their knees behind the side of the ship as a guard-bot went trundling past. It never paused.

"You go first and signal when you're inside. Make a noise, something I can hear over the suitcom."

"Okay. You won't back out?"

"Never. Blood-honor swear."

Rafe slipped in the side cargo door, and was out of sight as he looked for hiding places. Dak took one last look around and was about to follow when a gloved hand grabbed his shoulder. His heart pounded against his chest. Caught. Rafe is going to think I didn't follow . . .

"Just hold on there, young man. This is my ship. Do you make a habit of entering someone else's spaceship uninvited?"  One of the visitors towered over Dak, clad in a surface suit different from any Dak had ever seen. It was white. Stark white.
.
Sweat trickled down the back of Dak's neck inside the fitted head cover of his own black surface suit.

"Well? Can you hear me?"

"Yes, sir, I've never done this before, just talked about it. I'm Dak. We didn't want to steal nothing, we wanted to hide on your ship to get away from here. . ."

"You want to get away from here? Isn't this your home?" The man in the white surface suit released his hold on the boy, as he could see Dak wasn't going to leave his friend.

"We hate it here. Me and my friend Rafe.  He's inside your ship wondering where I am. . ."

"What about your family?"

"Don't have any family. They died in a pirate raid a long time ago."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Dak. I'm Morgan, and I grew up as an orphan, just like you. I lost my parents when I was young. Too young to remember them. I know what it feels like. I remember that I wanted to leave my home planet when I was your age. Because of that, I'm going to give you a second chance and not report this 'exploration', on two conditions."

"We won't be sent to detention jail?"

"I'd prefer not to, but it's up to you. If you agree to finish your training and become one of the Rangers, I'll say nothing. Some Rangers are pilots, some aren't. Next time I come, I'll be bringing someone important that you might want to meet. He's a scientist ."

"You mean it? Can I tell my friend inside? He's probably thinking I left him . . ."
 
"Please ask him to join us."

"Rafe, come out of the ship, it's ok. There's been a change of plans, and there's a new friend I want you to meet."

The path of two young boys, aged 9 and 10 had just diverted to loftier ideals.

End of Part 2. There will be a Part 3.

***

Have you had to make a Crossroads type of decision? Did you have a role model when you were younger? Have you heard of the WEP blogfests?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for dropping by! I'll respond.


***
Would you like to challenge yourself? Try Write...Edit...Publish!

Join us for a monthly signup and some very interesting reading. It's flexible. I joined the once-a-month bloghop since it meets my needs. I've also met fellow bloggers with the same penchant for responding to Denise's challenges. WEP makes me practice short writing. It's a good way to start story ideas, too.

 
***

Write…Edit…Publish! aka WEP welcomes you to submit any of the following – flash fiction, poetry, non-fiction or playscripts to a word count of 1,000 words – artwork and photographs accompanied by your written inspiration in creating your work/s.

Next Challenge: June - Romance
Owner/Originator: Denise Covey at her website.




***
Denise's WEP Site:
http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.ca/

***

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Her Bones are in the Badlands - Action! Camera!


Roland Yeomans' novel is the latest I've read from my eTBR file (the virtual stack), and a good followup on the Sam McCord stories. It's about The Industry, aka the movie industry, in the early days of Hollywood. The Badlands are dry, barren, windblown rugged, and formerly the home of the Navajo and Lakota tribes.






 A movie on location in the Badlands will see it's usual expectations shelved when an evil that lurks unseen is called. . . the air is charged with apprehension, all the actors are spooked. Something isn't quite right, but the guy in charge, Durand / McCord, can't determine what. A body is found, attacked by something inhuman. Signs of an old enemy increase the stakes. The search begins. . .

What is hiding in the Badlands, in the places the tribes don't go, the places where strange shapes are seen and things disappear? Will McCord find it before IT finds them? Meilori makes a grand entrance with Tesla, and with a few henchmen, they prepare for the fight with the Darkness, an entity worse than the Soyoko.

A quote from McCord that is priceless: "When you are young in West Texas, everyone seems to want to stick you with a knife, from Apache to cowhand." (That would be the early 1800s if McCord was born in 1799.)

An excellent cast for the movie in the book: Tom Mix, Marlene Dietrich, David Niven, Errol Flynn, and others, is balanced by the cast from the world of Sam McCord: Meilori, Elu, Tesla, Wolfe and the Sheriff. Delighted to see his love, Meilori beside him and Elu's surprise appearance, McCord is ready to do what must be done - ever the Texas Ranger. The confrontation with the danger must be met by Sam alone. . . against the entity hiding in the cave. An entity with unknown capabilities.

This story looks at several issues in an industry that has grown from silent movies to fantastic effects in film. I couldn't help comparing it to the Fitzgerald story, The Last Tycoon. Why? Both take place on movie set locations, both involve a director keeping a secret from most of the cast and crew. While one is concerned with weird happenings and murders at the location, the Fitzgerald book is concerned with unions and their effect on the creativity of directors and the industry. Both stories are nostalgic for a time in films that seemed golden. Both directors act as father figures for others. I enjoyed both novels.

Check out the other books Roland has written at his site, Writing in the Crosshairs, and see what a fantastic selection is available. For reviews of some of Roland's other novels, check the Book Review tabs at the top of my blog. I've reviewed them on Amazon as well.

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Are you familiar with Roland's novels?  Have you read Her Bones are in the Badlands? or Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon? If you have read Roland's novels, do you have a favorite story? Who is your fave character?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for stopping by! I'll respond.

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Writing in the Crosshairs - Roland's Blog
http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.ca/

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