Darrell Bain's Newsletter
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Subjects this month:
Free Short Story (Warning: not a happy ending), Comeuppance, Scientists Reading Fiction, Progress Report, Movie Credit, Book Reviews, Readers: born or made?, Bain Muses, Kissing and Longer Life, Continuing Saga of Betty, Last Honest Man, Bain Blunders, Unusual Mother's Day Present, Enjoying Dated Science Fiction, You Read it Here first, Patenting Genes, Bain Predictions, Excerpt from Savage Survival.
Free Short Story
Scientists and fiction reading
Free Short Story
Scientists and fiction reading
Twilight times is getting ready to publish the first volume of my newsletters, Bainstorming, covering the time period from August 05 through December 06. All the monthly newsletters published during that period have been reviewed, annotated, added to and deleted from, commented on and in some cases corrected. The introduction will be written by Lida Quillen, publisher of Twilight Times Books. I believe this first volume of Bainstorming will make good reading and obviously, my publisher does too, or wouldn't have invested the money in producing a book from them.
Once the e-book version of the book is published , the newsletters included in Volume one will be deleted from my web site, so if you'd like to review any of them for free, now's the time to do it!
A print edition of the book will follow sometime within the next year.
Still no word on whether Baen Books has bought the novel about a Quantum computer that becomes sentient but doesn't operate in quite the fashion its designers thought it would! Stay tuned.
I'm working on three books right now. One is a sequel to Human By Choice. One is about machine intelligence empires and the other is about an empire of the future covering many star systems. I'll keep you posted on these three.
Special Note: Women's War Memoirs is a narrative of heroic women in the military and the book is also for sale at www.videoexplorers.com .
Maxome Foe by John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor continues the saga began with John Ringo's The Looking Glass. This is the third book in the series and they just keep getting better. Here the Vorpal Blade, the submarine converted to a one of a kind space ship encounters the dread Dreen while on a rescue/discovery mission and eventually meets up with another species on the run from the Dreen. Together the Vorpal Blade and the fleeing aliens combine to defeat the pursuing Dreen Task force but while doing so learn some bad news: the seemingly unstoppable Dreen will be arriving in Earth space within 18 years. Having previously battled incursions of the Dreen on earth in The Looking Glass, this is bad news indeed. It will be the subject of another book in the series, I'm sure. Ringo and Taylor really have a winning series here. Great action, characters you really like and a story line that can go on for several more books. What's not to like?
Michael Crichton's Next isn't a particularly great story but it has enough elements to hold your attention and the book is well worth the reading for what he has to say about present and future developments in gene technology. It's scary and all too plausible. In fact, much of it is here now! I certainly didn't realize how far along the road patenting of genes has gone!
Readers: Born or Made?
Readers: Born or Made?
I've been reading a lot of legal thrillers lately, written by reputable lawyers. They go into a lot of detail about the intricacies of our criminal and civil justice system and its inequities as well as the moral turpitude of some lawyers and justices. All I can say is that if they are even close to right in their descriptions, our country's judicial system is in pitiful condition. I realize that justice is an abstract concept but it's become pretty obvious to me (and was even before I began reading novels and a few non-fiction legal books) that our justice system is on the verge of breakdown, mainly because more and more it is tilted very favorably toward those who have the big pockets, i.e., big corporations and rich individuals. It seems that the corporations can either throw enough money at a problem to buy a favorable verdict or if that doesn't work, simply string the proceedings out until the other side loses patience or runs out of money to keep fighting their case except when the tort lawyers get involved, and then they'll make plenty of money, the corporations will lose a lot whether they deserve to or not and the little people on whose behalf the lawyers filed their class action suit get little or nothing. I'm eligible to have my PVC pipes replaced according to a verdict in a class action suit but do you think I'm going to tear up the slab of our home and do it? Not. But the lawyers get their big fees regardless. And I absolutely get disgusted at some of the junk science I read about being used in trials. Our legal system can be called many things but no one can possibly call it simple. It is as messed up as the tax code or the medical care system.
Having said all this, I must also add that we do have a system that is better (that gives the benefit of the doubt to the plaintiff) than most others. Yet there is definitely something badly wrong with the works when cases can be strung out for years or even decades and when junk science is allowed to enter the courtroom as in the silicone breast implant verdicts.
Unfortunately, there's nothing about it that bringing it up in congress or while campaigning that will help a politician get elected so they pretty well ignore the inequities or take the contributions of the rich or money-heavy corporations and either do nothing or worse, pass laws favoring them. Isn't there anything normal citizens can do about it? Or is this something that is inevitably true regardless of the society you live in? And don't tell me voting for this politician or that one can change much of anything. So long as those critters care more about getting elected or re-elected than doing what's right or what they know in their hearts they should do, we won't see any changes. The worst part is that by the time a person gets the party's backing to run for office he or she will have already been pretty well corrupted at the local level.
Rats. When I was younger I trusted congress, business, doctors, lawyers, the military and policemen. Now I trust our policemen, for the most part, at least at the street level, even though you have the usual bad apples but that's true of any organization. What's bad is when the good apple is the exception and the rest of the barrel is rotten!!
Kissing and Longer Life
Continuing saga of Betty
Last Honest Man
Kissing and Longer Life
Continuing saga of Betty
Last Honest Man
Betty washed a particularly heavy load of clothes and then we noticed! Water from the washing machine that was almost completely blocked from flowing out the drain had to go somewhere. It overflowed into the storeroom in the office and soaked the carpet. Naturally, that's the only room in the house that's carpeted now. (Read Life On Santa Claus Lane for the hilarious story of replacing our carpet with flooring material the week before our 25th wedding anniversary. You'll howl! The rest of the book is funny, too, including our drug smuggling expedition to Mexico).
The roofing material is now removed and the carpet is almost dry after two days of a fan blowing into the store room. Nothing to do but 'fess up. We both made this blunder although I'm the biggest culprit for not getting that junk moved sooner.
Now for another Bain Blunder (this segment of Bainstorming is gathering lots of attention for some reason).
After I regaled my brother for years about the joys of country living, Gary and Barb finally bought them a pretty well isolated, peaceful home on forty acres in the rolling hills of central Oklahoma. Since then their "peaceful country home" has been intruded upon by the freight trains whistling at every intersection for miles each direction, the drug addicts who moved in across the road and blare their music 24/7 and have police cars with sirens wailing show up every weekend, a hog hunting lodge that went in on the other side of them, the interstate noise in the distance, the increased noise of airplanes from the grass strip adjacent to their property coming to hunt on the wild animal preserve that was built behind their acreage, a new oil and gas pumping station that just went in right next door and pumps 24/7 and Amtrack adding a line from Tulsa to OKC that goes by them to increase the train whistles. The final blow came from the hog hunting lodge which has just gotten a liquor license and will be having parties every weekend with music (they call it that, anyway) playing loud enough to shatter eardrums in the next county.
I heard from him recently. He says he wants to move into the country for come peace and quiet. I think he was being sarcastic and a bit ironic at the same time. Talk about picking a nice quiet country home! When the Bains blunder, they do it big time.
Unusual Mother's Day Present
Enjoying Dated Science Fiction
Unusual Mother's Day Present
Enjoying Dated Science Fiction
Giving away the year in a story I'm writing is something I assiduously avoid for the very reason listed above. People who read my novels will never see a year written into them unless it's purposeful, e.g. the continuing saga of the Williard Brothers that began during the Vietnam War and has carried them into the future now, where I've stopped putting in dates. For the same reason I try to avoid stating the make of a car, although I didn't catch on to that one until car models and companies began going out of business so regularly.
You read it here first.
You read it here first.
Here is my first prediction, but a little back ground first. e-ink technology is fast taking hold for e-book readers and for reading other manuscripts. Its principal advantage over other forms of downloading and reading material on computers is the minute amount of battery power that's used. As an example, with the Sony e-book reader you can read a couple of hundred, repeat, hundred books without having to charge your battery. Newspaper readership is gradually declining and has been for years. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find carriers to deliver the papers, which is a reflection of the poor pay for a seven day a week job that becomes less and less profitable as the price of gasoline goes up (I know how hard this job is-I've done it).
Newspaper readers don't like trying to read a newspaper on computers or reading devices, or even on one that has e-ink, e.g., the Amazon Kindle. However-and here's my prediction-suppose you had a sheet of paper about half the size of a regular newspaper that you could unfold so that you had two pages inside to read and could see the other pages of the newspaper by touching a tab. Touching a tab would automatically rearrange the ink spots into the next page. Now suppose you could customize your favorite big city (or heck, small town) newspaper to provide you with exactly what you like to read: world news, comics (ALL the comics), sports, financial or business news, etc. And read it in the size font that's comfortable for you! Granted, you'll have to take the advertisements with it but you have them anyway so it's no big thing. You certainly don't have to read them!
Further, suppose that every morning, or twice a day, or however often you like your newspaper updated, it is automatically updated without you doing anything other than leaving your "newspaper" plugged in to a USB port or soon by automatic wireless updating at specified times. Every few weeks or so you'll have plug it in for a battery recharge but that's all. You'll always have fresh news when you wake up. No sweat, no bother.
Having coffee spilled on your newspaper won't ruin it. Just wipe it off. I suppose you could even use it to let your puppy piddle on and wash it off but probably you wouldn't do that. You could, though. You will also be able to roll it up like a newspaper and carry it along on subways or buses and read while riding (and with the price of gas a lot of us may be doing that soon, thanks to our stupid leaders who have been sitting on their duffs for 35 years instead of doing something about a problem a ten year old idiot could see coming).
Now suppose you had all that for the same price you pay for your paper now? Would you subscribe? I sure as hell would! No more missing or wet newspaper. I would get to read lebenty leben dozen comics, all my favorites and not have to sort through the dumb ones. I would get to read science news and world news in detail rather than it being skimmed over and I could pretty well skip the sports page except for probably getting a digest or headlines just in case I want to see how LSU football is coming along (sorry OSU fans).
Okay, This is the Bain Prediction segment and I'm predicting we'll have something pretty much like that within ten years. Granted, you can subscribe to a few newspapers already with Amazon's Kindle and download when you feel like it, but it's not state of the art yet and most newspaper readers like a bigger page. We'd settle for something half the size of the regular page we see today.
Okay, there's my first prediction. You'll see more of them from time to time and remember, you read it first in Bainstorming!
Thanks for reading.
Excerpt From Savage Survival
Excerpt From Savage Survival
Lyda opened her eyes. She stood up on wobbly legs and looked around, squinting through frighteningly strong sunlight at a surreal scene of horror. In the distance, mountains grew from a brown landscape, solid and timeless, but nearby were two mutilated bodies. She averted her eyes from them quickly. One of them had been a young woman. She was naked. Blood seeped from between her thighs. The other body was that of a man, sprawled out in an awkward position. His skull had been crushed and caved in above one of his eyes. The eyeball lay on his cheek like an obscene colored marble on a thick white string.
Beyond the bodies, men and women milled around, some gathered in throngs, some alone. Most of them wore dazed, frightened expressions, like the ones she had seen on some of the dogs when her class toured an animal shelter, but like some of the dogs, a few were defiant and their faces and attitudes promised reprisal should a chance come their way. She saw a man dressed in dirty jeans squatting by a cactus. He had hacked off one of the flat pancake-like outgrowths and was trying to scrape the needles off it with the little file on a fingernail clipper, cursing as he did. Was he trying to get water from it, or planning on eating it?
Lyda thought of her parents. Where was Mom? She couldn't remember anything after she saw Dad being flung and crushed against the wall and that blue light engulfed her. Was Mom here? Or dead, like Dad? She was sure Dad was dead; she had seen how his throat was torn open by the broken studs in the wall. But she didn't know about Mom, nor did she know anyone to ask. She began walking slowly, looking around, trying to define her situation and trying not to cry. The ground of the desert was hot and gritty under her bare feet, not at all like she had imagined a desert would be. She thought she remembered slipping into her flip flops when she shrugged into her jacket, but if she had, they were lost now. Tiny stones gouged at the soles of her feet, bringing numerous little hurts. There didn't seem to be much of a landscape to see, other than the gritty dirt that passed as sand, larger rocks and even larger outcroppings of stone that rose from the desert floor like old shelters, petrified by time. Occasionally she passed tufts of greenish brown grass of some sort and more cacti, some very large and growing in clusters like flattened houses in a village. There were a few large bushes with spindly limbs and thin leaves but no trees anywhere.
And people. There were people as far as she could see, standing, sitting, lying on the ground. She thought some of them must be dead simply by the way they lay unmoving with limbs twisted under them or flung out in unnatural positions. There were other children among them, some being held by adults; others were free to move about under the watchful eyes of their guardians, but there were many who looked to be as lost and vulnerable as herself. The people were dressed in everything from suits to borrowed shirts tied around the waist by some who must have been caught naked. Lyda was glad she had her clothes on. She spotted several men and women who wore no garments at all. They looked entirely different than the nude bodies she had seen in the material passed around by the kids at school, as if someone had hosed them down and washed part of their color away. She wondered why that was.
At first Lyda wasn't really fearful; she was sorrowful about Dad and worried about Mom but beyond that, she was curious. How did she get here without remembering? How long had it taken? What was going to happen next? Was there water and food to be found? Why were the awful spider things bringing their captives here to this desolate waste? In the distance she saw one of the giant transport craft descend and land as silently as clouds bumping together. She wondered how it was powered. It couldn't be a rocket, could it? There was no noise. As she walked, some men or women glanced at her but most ignored her as if they had too many problems of their own to care about an eleven year old girl walking around by herself.
When Lyda grew thirsty, she decided to ask someone about water. She picked a gray haired woman who resembled grandma, though she wasn't dressed as nicely as grandma always was.
"Ma'am, do you know where I can find some water?" Lyda asked the old woman politely.
"Girl, you need a protector to get water around here. Where's your folks?"
"I.I don't know," Lyda told her. She didn't want to tell anyone that Dad was almost certainly dead and that Mom.well, she had been trying to protect her, too.
"Then you better find someone quick, lest you.ah shit, leave me alone." The woman covered her face with her hands and began sobbing.
Lyda went closer, wanting to comfort the old woman but she was shrugged off, then pushed forcefully away when she tried again. Puzzled, Lyda left her alone and began wandering again. What was a protector? Well, probably someone like a parent, she thought. But how do you find one?
One found her, one who had watched and listened, a tall grungy man in his forties with a two day beard and a gleam of desperation in his eyes. He was wearing the remnants of a suit and had a sweat-stained tee shirt wound around and over his scalp to protect his bald head from the sun.
Lyda turned toward the voice. Before she could back away, she found herself being gripped by the upper arm.
"I can get you some water, girl. What's your name?"
Lyda didn't answer. She didn't like his looks. She glanced around, looking for help. The few nearby adults turned away. One man started toward them but stopped when he saw the grungy man show a large pocket knife with the blade open. He turned away.
"Come on girl. We'll both get some water."
"I don't want to go with you," Lyda said, trying to wrench her arm away. That only made the man grip her tighter.
"What's your name, girl?" He repeated, squeezing her arm so hard it was painful.
"Lyda," she said reluctantly.
"Okay, Lyda. I'm Boris. Come on, let's go get some water. Maybe some food, too." He began walking, pulling her along by her arm. His long legged stride forced her into a half walk, half run in order to keep up. His breath was heavy and gasping, with a wheeze to it like his throat was dry, the same as the gritty desert sand. He led her for a half mile through and around small groups of people and halted beside a large outcropping of rock that provided shade for a scruffy looking gang of men and women.
A big dark haired man stepped forward, holding a sharp pointed rock in his fist. He also wore a two day beard, perhaps three days. "What we got here?" he asked. His question was asked in a pleasant tone of voice that contrasted with his feral appearance. He reminded Lyda of Wolverines she had read about, only bigger.
"Something to trade," Boris said deferentially to the big man. Now he was holding Lyda by both arms, forcing her to stand in front of him.
Lyda began to grasp what was going on now. There was a pile of supplies being guarded by this group. Every one of the men held either a rock or a pocket knife in their hand. Several of the women had armed themselves, too. She could see what looked like red bricks stacked in piles beside open containers of water that came in tubs made of some gray material. While she stood there a woman, closely accompanied by a man wearing jeans and windbreaker and holding a rock in his hand, leaned over one of the tubs and cupped water in the palms of her hands and lifted it to her mouth. She did this several times, then stood up. Her companion grinned at her like she was a prize he had just won from the coin toss at a county fair. He reached out with his free hand and squeezed one of her breasts. The woman winced but stood stoically. Then he led her around the stone outcropping, his hand already sliding down under the waistband of her slacks.
"She's too young," the big man said, still speaking pleasantly, looking at her, not the couple who had just left. Lyda detected an undertone to his voice, like the trill of a clear mountain stream that held poisonous algae beneath its surface.
"She's a virgin, Big Bill. Never been had. Ought to be worth something."
Lyda made a violent effort to wrench herself out of Boris' grip. She got one arm free but not the other, and before she could use her loose arm to try to claw or strike her captor, he had his forearm under her chin, pressing up so hard that she couldn't breathe.
The man named Big Bill laughed. "She's a feisty one. All right. One brick and all the water you can drink. Then go."
"That's all. I could just take her."
Boris relented. He shoved Lyda forward into the arms of Big Bill and scurried for the water tubs. He drank hugely, got tossed one of the red bricks and was told to leave. He was munching on it as he walked away, not looking back.
The red bricks are food, Lyda thought. So strange looking that they might be from the aliens. Like the water tubs. But the food and water both should be rationed. This isn't fair. Her mind swirled with conflicting desires; for water, for getting out of the grasp of this man's arms, for a sudden need to find someplace private to relieve herself. And what Boris had said about her being a virgin-did that mean.
"Come along," Big Bill said. "May as well get you broke in. There's one in the Rocky Mount gang as likes 'em young. But me first. Ain't never tried one as young as you before."
Lyda couldn't avoid his meaning now. As he began pulling her toward the back of the rock where the other couple had gone, she reached around and bit down on one of his fingers that were clasping her upper arm and tried to yank herself free.
"Goddamn!" Big Bill shouted, but he kept his hold on her.
Retaliation was swift. The hand Lyda had bitten grabbed her by the front of her jacket. His other hand swung violently against her head with bruising force, even though he hadn't made a fist. For a moment Lyda felt only a dizzy numbness, then the pain hit, like three dentists at once pushing needles into her jaw. She felt the lip and cheek on one side of her head begin to swell. She licked at the salty blood that began oozing from her mouth and felt tears coursing down her cheeks.
Big Bill shook her like a dachshund shaking a gopher he had just dug from the ground. "You do that again and I'll beat you so bad nobody will pay you water, or food either. Hear?"
Pay? What pay? Lyda's mind swung from thoughts of water to the throbbing in her jaw to a sudden urgent need to urinate.
"You hear?" Big Bill repeated.
Lyda nodded, unable to speak. She wouldn't bite again. I'll wait, she thought frantically as Big Bill nodded and began dragging her along by one arm while sucking on the finger she had bitten. I'll wait, then I'll hit him with a rock.
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This page last updated 06-03-08.