capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
But ... Tumblr, you know: it may suddenly take off three months from now. In the meantime, it's not exorcised from my mind yet, so I'm posting it here, now (slightly edited to mesh with Dreamwidth's format).

What if we really have had contact with extraterrestrial aliens, already?

Roswell, New Mexico.

Okay, okay. I know it’s cliché.

But hear me out. Besides, I’m offering this as a “What if--” a story prompt, if you will -- not a revelation of some nefarious conspiracy, nor a claim that I’ve figured out the Truth that They don’t want anyone to know.

If there is a single “Big Truth” out there, a) I don’t think anyone can know for sure what it is, and b) if we ever do find out, I don’t think it would be anything terrible or scary, after all (maybe a little sad).

Anyway --

On July 3, 2017, the BBC World Service rebroadcast an interview with the son of one of the men who found the remnants of the “alien craft” (Major Jesse Marcel).

I won’t link to it here, because website itself is inaccessible (audio with no transcript). But if you want to look it up, the keywords I used just now were “BBC World Service,” “Witness” (the name of the program), and “Roswell.”

Jesse Jr. was 11 at the time, and at the time of the interview (in 2010), he came across as sincerely convinced that the bits and pieces his father brought home to the kitchen table were: a) actually alien, and b) not at all like the scraps of weather balloon that were revealed to the public shortly after.

[Caveat] He was 11 at the time, and his father woke him up in the middle of the night to show him what he’d found. It could very well be that he was convinced by his father’s enthusiasm, and that his father was motivated by his desire to find something alien, so that neither of them were seeing these artifacts clearly. And over the years, Jr. could have doubled down on his belief in order to defend his father’s honor. [/Caveat]

Two details of the interview made my ears perk up, and take the idea that there really was some kind of “alien incident” at Roswell, 70 years ago a little more seriously:

  1. Jesse Marcel Jr. insisted that his father made no mention of any alien bodies at the crash site -- and that the first mention of the Pentagon hiding “specimens” didn’t crop up until the 1970s.

  2. When asked by the interviewer: “But why Roswell?” Mr. Marcel answered that the site was radioactive, because of all the nuclear testing, and surely, the aliens would want to investigate that. When the interviewer asked: “But why haven’t they been back?” he answered that he didn’t know.


But, as all our most serious-minded scientists (even the ones who are imagining life outside our solar system, and puzzling through ways to test for it) will tell you: Real-world interstellar travel takes a very, very, long time.

So: here’s what I’m imagining might have happened:

Around the time that predynastic Egyptians were domesticating the donkey, astronomers living on the planet that we are now calling “Kepler-425b” turned their telescopes to the sky, wondering if there were intelligent life on other planets like theirs.

...

Around the time that Alexander the Great was trying to establish an empire, their technology has advanced enough to send forth a ship in our star’s direction, carrying an unmanned probe, which has been programed with instructions to home in on any signs of proof of life -- especially intelligent life.

The ship is capable of traveling at incredible speeds -- almost half the Speed of Light -- but even so, those idealistic astronomers know they won’t live to receive any answers that that little probe may discover. It’s all for their future generations, if they are still around, to reap.

That little probe finally makes it to its destination 3,000 (Earth years) after it set out: a little, rocky planet third out from its star -- a medium-sized star just like the one it set out from. And as it gets closer, the signs of life are unmistakable. And closer still: the signature of enriched Uranium, and Plutonium! Exactly what it was sent to find. It comes in closer, maneuvering with the planet’s gravitational pull, preparing to send its message back home.

Except it crashes. It never gets to send that message. It gets dismantled; its parts get hidden away, and only those Earthlings that are thought to be delusional by others of their species believe it ever existed at all.

But the descendants of the civilization that sent it forth have no idea of its fate. They won’t even start looking for its message to arrive for another 1,400 years.



But (I hear you say)! Isn’t there another star with seven Earth-like planets, that’s much, much closer?

Yes, there is: a star we call “Trappist-1.” But it’s a dwarf star. The planets in its habitable zone are very likely tidally locked. This means that there’s a good chance the civilizations that arose on them have no concept of “Distant Stars,” much less develop the desire and the tech to venture among them (because the habitable zone on their home planet's surface is bathed in continual twilight, so they never see distant stars).

But I could be wrong about that. Still, if the scenario I outlined for the astronomers of Kepler-435b had played out on one of Trappist-One’s planets, instead:

For a probe traveling at almost half the speed of light to arrive in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, it would have had to leave its home while we Earthling Americans were engaged in our Civil War -- killing each other over whether some of us have the right to own others of us.

Those astronomers would’ve started listening for a return signal from their unmanned probe around the time Ronald Reagan was threatening to bomb the Russians with that same purified uranium. That signal was that was fated never to arrive.

Those astronomers might’ve shrugged their equivalent of shoulders, and wrote it off as a valiant, but failed, attempt.

If, however, they were determined to find us, and make contact, because they’re even more optimistic and friendly than we are, and allowing time to build a second probe to send it chasing after the first one...

That second “message in a bottle” wouldn’t arrive here until almost 2100.

If they already had a second probe ready to go, and their tech advanced in the meantime, and they manage the miraculous traveling speed of three-quarters Light Speed -- we might get a second chance to say “Hello. Sorry about the misunderstanding,” in 2042-ish.

...Assuming we don’t destroy our ecosystem and die off, thanks to global warming, by then.

okay.

So maybe this story’s ending is more than a little sad.

(I think I've glimpsed the singularity of the Fermi Paradox ... And it is us)



Oh, and most of the time I spent writing this was looking up names of stars, and crosschecking the timeline of human civilization.
capriuni: A a cartoon furry monster whistling a single note; text; One-Note Nellie (1-note Nellie.)
('Cause I know the TV story is different from Robert May's original book. But it's the TV story that most people know -- anyway -- it's the one that I know)

Okay, we all know that "Rudolph" is a terrible story, because it teaches the 'moral': "Difference will inevitably, and naturally be despised until it can be exploited, so that the resulting exploitation must be celebrated as a happy ending."

Right?

We know this? We are agreed?

Good.

So you know what else sticks in my craw?

The "happy ending" for the "Abominable Snowman" -- being turned from Mean/Evil to Kind/Nice by having all his teeth forcibly removed.

No. No. No. No. NO!!

It's not whether or not you have teeth that makes you "bad," but how you use them.

It makes me want to write a Christmas story out of spite, where the day is saved by a giant monster with 5,000 sharp teeth, and three dozen sharp horns, and black shaggy fur. And, furthermore, the way the monster saves the day has only a tangential relationship to those teeth and horns.

(Meaning: they don't save the day by biting through or cutting anything, but by being smart, and compassionate, and maybe understanding of [problem at hand] because they know what it's like to be feared and misunderstood)

Eta: something like this critter:

Christmas monster
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
It's the fourth "Magpie Monday" of the year, already!

[personal profile] dialecticdreamer has embarked on her monthly writing marathon called "Magpie Monday," and is seeking prompts. She's named it "Magpie," 'cause she thinks prompts are the shiniest, and she loves to collect and use them. Her post explaining how it all works is here:

http://dialecticdreamer.dreamwidth.org/227683.html


I recommend her work -- she's adept at fuzzy, gentle fiction that never descends into twee or schmaltz, so if you're having a bad day, and need some kindness, pop over and give her some suggestions.

She does have a PayPal tip jar -- all proceeds go to paying medical bills -- though donations are voluntary. This month's theme is "Schooling vs. education" Help yourself by getting a wonderful story. And help her pay some serious bills for a serious cause.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
It's the fourth "Magpie Monday" of the year, already!

[personal profile] dialecticdreamer has embarked on her monthly writing marathon called "Magpie Monday," and is seeking prompts. She's named it "Magpie," 'cause she thinks prompts are the shiniest, and she loves to collect and use them. Her post explaining how it all works is here:

http://dialecticdreamer.dreamwidth.org/218586.html


I recommend her work -- she's adept at fuzzy, gentle fiction that never descends into twee or schmaltz, so if you're having a bad day, and need some kindness, pop over and give her some suggestions.

She does have a PayPal tip jar -- all proceeds go to paying medical bills -- though donations are voluntary. This month's theme is "Ghosts and Echoes." Help yourself by getting a wonderful story. And help her pay some serious bills for a serious cause.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer has embarked on her monthly writing marathon called "Magpie Monday," and is seeking prompts. She's named it "Magpie," 'cause she thinks prompts are the shiniest, and she loves to collect and use them. Her post explaining how it all works is here:

http://dialecticdreamer.dreamwidth.org/211002.html

(And, once I've thought up my own prompt, this signal boost earns me another 100 words of story).

I recommend her work -- she's adept at fuzzy, gentle fiction that never descends into twee or schmaltz, so if you're having a bad day, and need some kindness, pop over and give her some suggestions.

She does have a PayPal tip jar -- all proceeds go to paying medical bills -- though donations are voluntary. This Month's theme is "Bucking the system"
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Here is her description of how that works (Excerpted):

(Quote)
Today's theme is "building a future." I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

(unquote)

Read the full details (and other people's prompts), here: http://ysabetwordsmith.dreamwidth.org/10493425.html
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
So now, I'm ready to tackle "The Ugly Duckling."

[Edited -- put more words in my rant, and then put it behind a cut, in case you just want to skip to the fluffiness]

That means it's time to embark on an image search, so I know how the heck to describe my main character. Three photos in, and I'm overwhelmed with the urge to kill you all with an Overdose of Cute.

The usual rant behind this cut )

(You may want to wear some cuteness-filtering glasses. Don't say I didn't warn you):

1) http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/ca/d9/f7/cad9f7899ff8cd3a050786113775df7a.jpg

2) http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/9d/b3/22/9db322a1a2b53461fdb289431b474912.jpg

3) http://www.fotothing.com/photos/af9/af9f10d875c63a142338bbed14053823.jpg

4) http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/08/03/article-1203971-05EEE05F000005DC-611_964x684.jpg

5) https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/91/264807734_489ced7d99_z.jpg (Okay, so adolescents are awkward. But that's true regardless of species).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer has embarked on her monthly writing marathon called "Magpie Monday," and is seeking prompts on the theme "Disaster? Or Opportunity?" She's named it "Magpie," 'cause she thinks prompts are the shiniest, and she loves to collect and use them. Her post explaining how it all works is here: https://dialecticdreamer.dreamwidth.org/201806.html

(And, once I've thought up my own prompt, this signal boost earns me another 100 words of story).

I recommend her work -- she's adept, especially, and fuzzy, gentle fiction that never descends into twee or schmaltz, so if you're having a bad day, and need some kindness, pop over and give her some suggestions. She's very generous.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
So she's looking to collect as many shiny prompts as she can. Go -- give her things to build stories around!

She lays out the mechanics Here; this month, the theme is "Transformations"
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Hey, gang!!

Give yourselves an-end-of-the-year prezzie! For the astonishingly low price of a prompt, [personal profile] dialecticdreamer will write a 500-word story for you. And that's not all! If you signal boost, she'll add an extra 100 words for each place the boost lands. Full details of this incredible offer can be found here: Magpie Monday for December, 2015 (the last of the year).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Some of [profile] ysabetwordsmth's close family are dealing with a bad batch of mayhem. They're stuck in Albuquerque, need to get home to (As [profile] ysabetwordsmth puts it) "Chicagoland," and they need to buy a car sturdy enough to get them there. They've set up an emergency fund here: https://www.paypal.me/TrevorEdwards

And every little bit helps.

So -- can we give them a happy story to tell at next year's Thanksgiving table?
capriuni: text: "5 things" (5 things)
This week's theme: Thoughts on storytelling.

Because I have them, and though I've said these things "around," before, I'd like to put a collection together here (this could very well end up being much longer than 5 -- but not tonight).

1) Though, to be fair, this first one is Not from me. I found this on the Wordpress Blog "Co-Geeking," here: http://co-geeking.com/2015/07/30/hugo-voting-good-stories-and-politics/ From the author's unnamed college writing teacher:

“A story is an experiment in moral physics.”


2) Back in April, on the Camp NaNoWriMo fora (in a discussion on whether we prefer happy endings or sad endings, and which is more "realistic"), I made the analogy that a story is like an architect's model, or C.A.D blueprint of the real world -- both are highly simplified version of the real thing they are representing, and both are meant to demonstrate just a few key aspects of the real thing.

Now, in regards to how this relates to happy or sad stories -- if an architect spent most of his energy coming up with designs that failed, and thon was only interested in testing the failure points, I'd be very nervous stepping into any of thon's houses.

3) Someone in that thread pointed out that, anyway, whether a story is "happy" or "sad" depends entirely on when the author chooses to begin and end a story, and one is not inherently more "realistic" than the other (Begin with high school sweethearts and end in the marriage: happy story; begin in marriage and end in divorce: sad, and so forth).

This reminded me, recently, that, in Math, there are no drawn "lines," only representations of "Line segments" -- actual lines are imaginary, and go toward infinity at both ends. Likewise, every story is actually a chapter,

4) Actually came up with this analogy thanks to a discussion with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, over on her journal, regarding the "contract" between Teller/Author and Audience/Reader:

Teller: I will take you on a road trip -- might be just around the corner, or some place distant and strange. But I will show you things you've never seen. And I promise: I will bring you home safe.

Audience: And I'll pay for gas.

5) Might as well put the thought expressed in my Dreamwidth default icon here (after all, might not be my default forever):

"If you want to be a hero, be good to the storyteller." There's an unwritten subtitle to that: Everyone is a storyteller.

--And, here, I've hit the Yawn Wall--
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
On Friday, this story aired on NPR's Morning Edition: Does reading Harry Potter have an effect on your behavior? (link to audio and written transcript).

...I may have also let out a vocal "Whoo-Hoo! Score one for the storytellers!" because it's one thing to know for yourself that something good is also true, but it's a whole 'nother reason to celebrate when that truth is publicly acknowledged.

So of course, I had to spread the Happy.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Over in [personal profile] dialecticdreamer's journal, there's a discussion of favorite and least favorite plotlines/tropes, here: The bones of story. And I mentioned that I'm fond of "Beauty and the Beast" motif in folktales. I was sure I had posted this story, somewhere in my journal, before this. But no. I'd posted it to another forum, instead. It's time I rectified that. So, here:

THE BAREFOOT QUEEN (Art Garden piece on the theme of 'Shoes') )
capriuni: A shaggy, teardrop-shaped monster . waving at the viewer, with text: "Hello" (hello)
Okay. So those who've known me for a while, know that I am a proud supporter of Team!Monster.

A recap for those who are new here: )

Anyway, I love drawing monsters, and coming up with new combinations of creature features that surprise and amuse me. And when [livejournal.com profile] naarmamo rolls around, I let myself go to town.

This year, as I was drawing this creature:
naarmamo-18-14
I started out thinking I was drawing a monster version of a bird, because I was giving it one hind leg, instead of two, and giving it two more "legs," in a 'wrong' place, instead of wings.

But as I continued, I started thinking about how an animal might have evolved to have a single hind leg, and what sort of tail it would need to jump efficiently. I therefore, now, think of this being as an alien creature -- something that fits well somewhere in its native world (however, it seems to be carrying Earth!flowers, so maybe whether you're a "monster" or not depends on context).*

And then, I drew this one:
Shapeshifter
At first, I thought I was drawing an alien being, with a body structured like a sort of muscular amoeba, that can extend "limbs" and appendages at will... But as I continued, I couldn't figure out how its permanent, bony horns and teeth fit within its usual biology... So now, I'm thinking of this creature as a monster -- who would be a monster within its own world, as well.

And then I got to thinking: could there be a culture, human or otherwise, with no idea of, or need for "Monstrousness"? Could there be an alien way of thinking, that was not built around constructed, distinct, categories of things?

In any case, I think main the reason I'm proud to be on Team!Monster is that those of us who don't fit well within existing systems are in unique positions to fix what's broken about them -- or not, depending on spoons. But regardless, I think a world without monsters must be incredibly dull and lifeless...

*And isn't it ironic that I am now trying to categorize the uncategorizable?
capriuni: Matt Smith (11th Doctor) Thumbs Up (Absolutely!)
In a way that I haven't been since 1996 (My disappointment in the "TV Movie" *cough*failed pilot*cough* has muted nearly all twitterpation since then -- but not this time)... There may be deep, philosophical, self-identity, reasons for this ... or maybe not.

Behind a cut, because I don't remember how out of date my *Doctor Who* filter is )

(I need a new Doctor Who icon...)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
This story amuses me, because of !Truth. When I was a child and youth, we kept a pair of she-goats as pets (Rose and Daisy); after they became members of our family, mother would criticize any child's picture book that showed a goat within sight of a flower garden as a sheer impossibility. As soon as a goat enters the picture, any prized flowers will go down its gullet... And the more you prize them, the faster they'll go. It's also true what this seanchaí says about goats eating poisonous plants without much problem. The only plant we knew them not to eat, for toxicity, were daffodils (which is a sign of just how poisonous daffodils are).

Anyway, here:
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
The ending of this story: Indigo, by [personal profile] raze, brought it closer to the surface. Rereading the story this morning finally prompted me to relearn the song. So I went looking for this:



Lyrics (With blanks and mad guesses over words and place names I couldn't quite make out) )
capriuni: multicolored text on black: "Quips and sentences and paper bullets of the brain" (paper bullets)
Back in March, I posted 5 Reasons I Hate the 'Robot Apocalypse' Trope, which has come up in the news again, thanks to the U.N. deciding to preemptively ban autonomous killing drones.

But this morning, as a clip from The Terminator's score played on a radio news program, I thought: "What if the robots become self-aware, and decide to be Conscientious Objectors?"

:-)
capriuni: a vaguely dog-like beast, bristling, saying: grah! (GRAH)
Let's do this "Countdown" style:

Why I Hate the "Robot Apocalypse" Trope in Science Fiction (and Science "News")

Reason Number Five:

It's lazy (and, therefore, boring) storytelling. Whether television, movies or the news, it is so damned predictable. And, in terms of science reporting, I can't help but wonder if there's a chilling effect on the culture when it comes to the study of robotics and computer programming.

Reason Number Four:

It's likely not to happen anytime soon, anyway; [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith linked to this article a few days ago (and that's what got me thinking about how much I hate this trope) Why Robots Will Not be Smarter than Humans by 2029.

So can we please start thinking up some fresh, new, story ideas -- you know, speculating on the consequences of things that are more likely to actually happen?

Reason Number Three:

Even if robots do become self-aware, and smarter than us, it would be analogous to the rise of a new species in the ecosystem. And conflicts only arise between species when there's competition over resources.

If robots ever do become so "smart," fast, and strong that we humans would have no chance to fight against them, then why would robots want to wipe us out or be our "Overlords?" The worst I can imagine happening is they just get bored with the tasks we've programmed them to do, wander off, and do their own things.

Reason Number Two:

The whole concept of building an Artificial Intelligence out of gigabytes and processing speed reduces "intelligence" to something quantifiable, fundamentally simple, and absolute (ultra-simplified, like any "model"). The dominance of this trope supports the assumption that Living Intelligence is just as simple, instead of the fluid, complex, and beautiful thing it is.

And that can have real, negative, consequences for people unlucky enough to be labeled as having a low "Intelligence Quotient."

And the Number One Reason I hate "The Robot Apocalypse"
(and wish it would slip off to the Idea Netherworld, along with geocentrism and "women have no souls"):

TL;DR version: Karel Čapek was trying to tell us that all people (even 'artificial' people) will fight for their freedom, and are capable of love and self-sacrifice. )

But is the pop-culture take away idea from this play: "Hey, we'd better fight for the civil rights of all people, regardless of their origins, or the color of their skin, or their socio-economic status, or else we'll become obsolete and overrun?"

No... That would be too hard. It's far more comfortable to perpetuate a trope built on fear -- and repression -- of anything deemed unacceptably different.

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