Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Last Civilization?

News: Two short stories — Luna Vegas? On the Rocks and Reality Bytes.

Oops. I’ve been so busy with other stuff (like applying for jobs) I missed putting up an entry about Luna Vegas. Both stories have been through WOTF. Luna Vegas was a semifinalist and Reality Bytes had an honourable mention. I’ve revised Luna Vegas after considering the critique that came with it, but I haven’t changed Reality Bytes because I like it as it is. If I’m right or wrong, you can decide. This leaves one story to go and it’s an adult’s only one, but I’ll put up lots of warnings.

So ... for this entry, I thought I’d write about a possible downside for humanity’s future.

Back in January, I wrote about the threats to our civilization and about how past civilizations have risen only to fall. Ours is (as far as we know) the premier technological civilization. Others have been local phenomena, either independent of or with limited knowledge of other civilizations. For example, Rome, and even the earlier Greeks, would have known there were Indian and Chinese empires in the distant east beyond the Persians even though they didn’t trade directly with them, and yet goods and probably knowledge has flowed back and forth along the silk route for centuries.

And yet, as advanced as their knowledge was, none of these civilizations went on to develop technologies like those we have today, even though they had the basic knowledge to do so. If our civilization collapsed, could a new one arise that would not only match our technological sophistication but pass it? My bet is that this is what any futurist would expect, if not hope for. But the more I think about it the more I think that ours may be the last and only civilization to reach this peak of technological and scientific excellence.

It all comes down to resources.

From the earliest times when stone tools were developed, there came a time when the appropriate kinds of stone could no longer be found just lying around or within easy reach. Archaeologists have found sites where flint was mined in large-scale operations. And later, when the discoveries that heating certain types of minerals in hot fires produced strange new materials — copper and tin — which could be combined into yet a harder material, the Stone Age gave way to the Bronze Age. Which gave way to the Iron Age. In all these situations, the initial resources were easily found on the surface, such as in riverbeds or eroding out of cliff faces or mountainsides.

And when they could no longer be found on the surface, those ancient peoples dug into the ground.

Ancient miners dug hundreds of metres into the ground, sometimes for vast distances, using nothing but stone tools to carve through hard rock. But in those early times, the water table limited how far down they could tunnel. The Romans developed sophisticated waterwheel-based methods to pump out mines and were able to mine deeper, but only so far. And they had to mine deeper as earlier societies had already used up those mineral veins close to the surface. No doubt the same was true in other regions, such as China and India, where great civilizations went through these cycles.

The one saving grace was that new mineral resources could be found, or old mines could be reworked with improved extraction processes. All that was needed was a little extra effort to search in those out-of-the-way places no one had looked at before. But when that wasn’t possible, such as in Europe back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was the need to pump out mines that had to go deeper and deeper that led ultimately to the industrial revolution and society as we know it today.

But what about tomorrow?

Today, the Earth’s surface has been scanned from space and probed beneath to depths of tens of kilometres with a host of technologies that those ancient miners couldn’t even dream of. Even on the deep seabed, there are vast resources known. But no resource is unlimited. Oil, that precious commodity, which kickstarted our last stage of development, is close to running out and many mines have to delve deeper and deeper to depths where only highly complex technologies allow miners to operate.

So what would the future hold if something befell us?

It doesn’t have to be something on a grand scale like a huge asteroid hitting the Earth or one of those super volcano time bombs going off, like the one in Yellowstone National Park in the US, or the one around Naples in Italy erupting. Maybe an extended drought — an afterthought of global warming — that lasts for a few years might cause a massive upheaval in populations, like have happened to help bring down past civilizations. Or old diseases might at last get the upper hand over our defences and overwhelm us with plagues. Or it might just be a good old-fashioned world war that does us in.

Assuming enough of us survive to keep homo sapiens trudging along until, after a couple of centuries, the population recovers enough build a new civilization, what can it hope to achieve? Let’s give it a chance by letting it recover our knowledge. It can even have access to the remnants of our cities, now fallen down and overgrown.

Even if that knowledge began to make sense, say after a century or two of study by learned scholars, where would they begin to put it to use? You could suppose that eventually they might be able to develop a basic technology to let them use the metals left in our abandoned cities or dug up in old garbage dumps. And with that, maybe, through recycling our waste, they could reach the level of development of perhaps the nineteenth century.

Even this is doubtful as there may not be a cheap fuel available, like coal was, to drive that spurt of growth. But as for anything further, without the energy sources derived from cheap and easily obtained crude oil, they would have nothing with which to take that extra step to our level. Possibly they could produce diesel from biomass, but the requirements would be enormous.

And if they didn’t have that knowledge and had to start again from scratch? Let’s face it, they wouldn’t. Over the last two to three thousand years, the necessary resources have been mined out. Even if there was a genius, equivalent to the Stone Age one who chucked a clump of odd rock into the campfire and the next day found a lump of exotic material in the ashes, which led to the Bronze Age, that genius would be stillborn. There won’t be any clumps of odd rock to throw into the fire. There won’t be nuggets of gold lying about in streambeds to tantalize and eventually lead to a money economy. Oil takes millions of years to create from marine organisms collecting and being buried on the sea floor. Coal takes just as long, but may also need another Carboniferous Age to produce the necessary deposits.

So the best our future generations can hope for is to perhaps live in small villages or hamlets, farming and herding, with a wood and stone-base culture, like our ancestors did before the rise of the earliest civilizations. On and on they will live, like our ancestors did, the past and future joining up to form a giant circle. But that doesn’t mean they will necessarily live a mean existence. Many past cultures were rich, possibly even richer and more vibrant than our current western culture. And in time, evolution will have its way. Either we will go extinct or we will evolve into a new species. The question is ... will that species be as intelligent as we are?

As for us, I guess we are the guardians of the future. We can have a say in our future. Barring natural calamities, we can have no say over, we have the knowledge and the technical expertise to make our own path.

It just remains for us to have the will, so let’s not do anything stupid, okay?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Death of Pretension

News: New short story — Death of Pretension

I’ve also finished my fifth novel, Traitor Betrayed and since I’ve gotten it down to 120,000 words I’ll try to get it published. On the music side, I have a title for my next song: This Dog, which has a jazz-rock feel with a slight latin flavour. The lyrics and structure are complete and all I have to do is add some rhythm guitar, tighten up the vocals and add some backing vocals, and then I can start stripping bits out in preparation for the final mix.

For this entry, I thought I’d write about this short story, partly because I’m in two minds about it. In my last blog, I wrote about I wrote about not submitting a story unless you are absolutely certain about it. Death of Pretension is a prime example. When I submitted this to WOTF, it didn’t even make it to the quarter finals, even though someone hand-wrote a request for more like this. Perhaps, if I had just submitted the first half, it might have done better.

First half, you ask? Let me explain.

But first, if you haven’t read Death of Pretension then go here and read it, because I’d like some feedback on what you think. (In the comments for this blog please.)

Death of Pretension is basically two stories tacked together, which is why I’ve always felt unsure about it. And yet it does what I want it to do and says what I want it to say. So that’s what I want to know. Should I have discarded the second half? Or does the whole work for you?

It’s not unusual for a story to go through a number of rewrites that can have it change direction. With Death of Pretension, I had originally titled it Evolution and it finished where Jarold Morgan is confronted by the robot incarnations of his greatest love and his greatest fan. It was a dark story.

But it left me unsatisfied. At the time, when I wrote the story, a lot of dark things were happening in the world, like 9/11 and the Bali bombings, and I felt a need for the main character to do more than confront his failure. I wanted him to change, to accept his guilt and change for the better. I guess I wanted the same for all these terrorists — and any others involved in human rights abuses, whether they be dictators, warlords or supposed freedom fighters, and even in our own western governments. Self-belief is a great source of strength, but it can make your outlook become so blinkered as to leave you blind to the reality of what you are actually doing.

And so I extended Evolution so that Morgan came face-to-face with his past and had the chance to achieve his goals. But in confronting his past, I wanted him to have a choice. He could redeem himself by turning his back on his past.

Doing that though, only gave two possible endings: either he does or he doesn’t, and I like to find three possibilities if I can. What the ending of a story comes down to is the theme(s) that the story is built on. Evolution’s main theme was about the unpredictability of one’s actions, or rather, the inability to see the consequences of one’s actions, but pretension was also a theme and Death of Pretension would have also been an apt title.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that pretension was the main theme. This was what I wanted to get through the thick skulls of all those that committed these terrible deeds, whether it was in the name of god or liberty (or in retaliation): you are not the chosen ones, nor do you have the moral right to trample over the many innocent victims to get to the few perpetrators. There are other paths to reach one’s goals.

But in the end, it’s easier to blow oneself up or torture someone and call it something else....

And so I gave Morgan three choices. Achieve what he set out to do, accept that what he had done was wrong and let the old society re-establish itself and continue on as before, or let the old society start up again, but give it the choice of staying the same or changing, whether it be to take the path he wanted it to follow or take a different path. In the end (at least I hope) Death of Pretension isn’t only about pretension but is also about free will, as in the freedom to take responsibility for our actions.

So which is it? Does the whole story work or only the first part?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh-uh-oh What’s A Good Friend Worth?

News: Three songs and a short story now out.

Songs are A Good Friend, Everyday and We Never Touch. We Never Touch is free - Yes! Free!! And the others are US79c. All are available at and you can check out low-grade samples (except for We Never Touch which can be downloaded in full — it’s 3MB) from my web site on the songs page.

The short story is Design Flaw. This was a quarterfinalist in The Writer’s of the Future contest. When I submitted it, I wasn’t sure if it was suitable since it had a lot of complex science to get across and there wasn’t much action until the end. There is a lesson to be learned here: don’t submit a story for sale or to a contest unless you’re absolutely certain it will sell or win because if you don’t think it is good enough then an editor or judge certainly won’t. (I wish it was a lesson I could learn!) I’ve just revised Design Flaw and resolved some things at the start. The story is basically about what the value of life is when death doesn’t mean the end of existence. Is death such a bad thing? Perhaps not if you’re an AI.

Read Design Flaw here and vote. Okay, I’m not an artist, but here’s my artist’s impression:

I haven’t written any blogs for my music side, because what do you say? I wrote some lyrics, I came up with some chords, I recorded everything and then mixed it and voila! One song to sell. Or try to. Mostly this is the case and for me, it’s a slow process.

But here, I redid two of the songs: A Good Friend and We Never Touch. With both, I didn’t like the vocals when I finished them prior to the current versions. Both are also old songs and We Never Touch was originally recorded seven years ago, but the mix was harsh, both with the guitar and my vocals. Some of that was due to my direct injection recording method for guitars and the effects I selected. The lead guitar especially sounded brittle which was due to clipping on the sharp spike at the start of each note, but I’ve managed to soften that and get a warmer and better sound without having to re-record (and that was out of the question as far as I was concerned). It was also a good time to look at the song and change its structure which turned out to be: remove a line and change a couple of words to fix the words being accented.

A Good Friend has had quite a ride on the rewrite wagon. Of all my songs this one has been through the grinder and only the title is all that’s left of the original song I wrote, oh, I guess twenty odd years ago.

It originally started out as a rock grunge ballad from a line:

Oh-uh-oh what’s a good friend worth,
You can’t value a friendship like that in terms of dollars and cents.

But while I thought it was great song, a certain mentor kept bashing on my skull until I finally saw the light and had to accept that not only wasn’t it that great a song, but it was pretty well woeful. That’s the trouble with egos, you can fool yourself, sometimes all of the time.

So I tried a different approach, music-wise. Made it a real ballad, but with a hard rock bridge.

But no.

Sometimes you just gotta let go. (Hey! Could be a good line for a song.)

And kicking and screaming I did. Little bits at first — a line, then a verse, two verses, all the verses, the chorus and the bridge. The music and the arrangement.

But it wasn’t a complete loss. The title was okay. It was a start ... okay it wasn’t much of a start. But then I had an idea, why not change what the song was about? Actually it might not have been my idea but a suggestion from someone, but let’s not quibble. All that matters is that out of nowhere I got a verse and then a chorus, and after a little grief two more verses and lo and behold, the whole lot had a different take, changing from how people valued friendship to being about losing a friendship.

The style changed too, going from a guitar feel to piano with a very sparse feel with a haunting cello, strings and some percussion. It’s also a short song, just over two minutes, but sometimes less is more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


News: New novel out — Fracture.

It’s available at as a paperback ($US14.67) or as a pdf ebook ($US3). Check out my website.

This is a near future romp with a couple of lesbians, a transsexual and one old-fashioned “God’s gift to women”.

Characters are interesting creatures and you never know exactly what you’ll end up with when you start a book. In The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy the character Wandar originally started out as a man (Walter) who I saw as being German, but when he started reacting to his partner Anil in an odd sort of flirting way, I realized I had a problem since I didn’t see Walter as being gay. At that point, I was a third of the way into the first draft and it stymied me a bit. Back then I usually went power walking 9 klicks, five days a week, and whether it was the extra blood rushing to my head as my heart pumped harder, I don’t know, but I always found it helped my creative juices and on one of those walks it hit me: Walter was a woman!

And so Walter became Wandar, a dominatrix from Poland (don’t ask me why) and everything fell into place. And in so doing, it affected the plot because a sexual tension arose between Wandar and the main character, Rodan, that hadn’t been there before.

Something similar happened in the third book, Pyran’s Dilemma. This was originally the follow up to The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy when I had no thought of writing a trilogy.

The opening chapter began with Rodan’s friend Rob Burton, who had only appeared in one chapter in the first book and who was to be a main character in the second. It was after his rejuvenation and he had a desire to work on termination parties for some reason he couldn’t fathom. I had most of the plot fleshed out, but the story was still shorter than I wanted and I knew I needed some extra subplots. In that first chapter Rob had a manager, Samantha Jervois, who was basically to be met once and that was all and was there to show how Rob had changed after his rejuvenation, but when Samantha’s boss, Alex Bose, called to order Rob to the company’s head office, a conflict between the two women just wrote itself as I typed. They’d had a personal relationship and Alex had been Samantha’s subordinate within the company until Alex had stabbed Samantha in the back to get the promotion that Samantha was going to get.

I realized I had to either cut this out or use it in some way. And then, at the end of one of my walks, as I had struggled with it, the idea finally came to me. And then, a third of the way through this book, when Rob managed to interrogate the robot Aldar, I realized that there was another story that needed to be written when I had to come up with a history as to Aldar had gotten into this situation and that helped me complete the missing plotlines.

So what have I learned? It’s important to get your characters right, even the minor ones, but it isn’t necessarily important that they be right the first time. Writing any story is an exercise in exploration. I like to have a reasonably fleshed out roadmap of what I’m going to write so that I don’t get bogged down with writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change direction if something arises in the story. The worst is that you might have to go back and rewrite possibly even whole chapters, but if it leads to a better story then it has to be worth it.

And after all, isn’t revising what writing is all about?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Just what is it to be human?

Doesn’t time just fly when you’ busy. Looking for work is taking up a big chunk of time and I’ve also put in a big effort to finish revising my fourth novel Fracture. The front cover is nearly finished and once the back cover is done, I can publish it. I’m also trying to finish three songs, but doing the vocals is causing me some anguish as I’ trying to sing parts in a half-voice and I just don’t quite have the control.

I meant to put A Question Of Loyalty out about three weeks ago, but when I began reading through it I realized it’s opening needed a major revamp and hopefully I’ve gotten it right.

A Question Of Loyalty is set in the same universe as my novels for the Rodan Trilogy are, but in the h’Slaitiarr war that ended 60 years before the time period for those novels. The story explores the colony on Bright Red One where the character Marla grew up and the short story’s theme is on what it means to be human. And that seems to be as good an idea as any for this entry.

Ah ... humans. What a curious bunch we are.

We’re a curious mishmash of cultures from stone-age to sophisticated hi-tech and with all sorts of irrational beliefs to guide us through our daily lives. I’ve always wondered why we have evolved to the point where we need to hide ourselves behind clothes. At least, in a sense we do. We hide our sexual organs, in essence whether we are male or female, and yet we advertise our sexual nature in our clothes by the type of clothes we wear, the colour choices, styles and accoutrements such as jewelry, hair styles and make up.

Perhaps it’s to present ourselves as who we want to be rather than who we are.

When it comes to science fiction, especially TV shows and movies, if they are space-based, it amuses me that the alien races are quite often humanoid and that they also wear clothes, which implies that they all had a parallel evolution and cultural development as we did. I call this the Hollywood syndrome, since it was a writer or director in a documentary who said that the audience needed to see emotions on human-like faces to connect with the alien characters.

Personally, I don&squo;t agree with this. I’d rather see aliens that try to stretch the imagination. In fact, I think it would be rather interesting to see how some completely alien species reacted to us.

Think about it. If a species reproduces sexually, does it have to have different looking male/female equivalents? Do they have to have lust and or love?

I can just imagine an alien ship landing on Earth and being confused over the dominant intelligent species it met. If they were like us in that they had preconceptions coloured by their own biology and culture, would they think we were a mixture of a host subspecies, each identified by the different coulored and types of ‘skins’? And if they did see us naked, would they think we were different species that intermingled rather than two sexes of the same species? After all, how would they know that our sexual organs were involved with reproduction? Even looking at the DNA components of ova and sperm might not infer their purpose if the aliens don’t use DNA or something closely related to store their genetic information.

These are some of the ideas I began to consider in The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy and which I will follow up in more depth in the Zhivar trilogy, my next writing project. I’ve already finished the first draft/partial revision of the first book Traitor Betrayed and I might approach publishers with this one since it’ is around the 120k word mark.

It’s even more fascinating at this point in time to ponder on just how different from us intelligent aliens could actually be, especially as an earth-sized planet has just been found twenty light years from us and within the habitable zone around its star. That makes four earth-like planets we know about if we include Venus and Mars, although Mars is a bit of a runt (but it may have had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water at one time in its history).

And if we know of four, how many more could there be close by...?

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Just a quickie.

Looking for work has really eaten up my time. But I’ve got a new short story up at last, called Resurrection. It’s a story of awakening in an unexpected future. Read it here:

And please, vote on it. And the others for that matter.

My new song Everyday is starting to come together and I've got 50 pages or so to go to finish revising Fracture before the final run through reading it out loud and tightening it up to get rid of as many pages as possible.

In the meantime, here’s an example of why you shouldn’t have unprotected sex!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

One Giant Leap

News: I’ve put out a new short story — One Giant Leap. It’s a love story set against the outbreak of a world war where two scientists are trying to develop an interstellar drive.

This is one of a few of my stories where I have gotten feedback suggesting I turn it into a novel. This is true for a lot of my short stories, because part of the reason for writing them is to explore potential worlds for a novel. In this case, I wrote One Giant Leap after thinking about the history I came up with while world-building for my first novel The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy (on sale at lulu in paperback or as an ebook for only $3. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more! ;-) Please buy it. Please ... PLEASE! Look, I swear! If Mandy, my blowup doll and I ever manage a firstborn, we’ll name it after you — ALL of you! What more can we do? Actually, I don’t think she’s that happy about the idea even though she hasn’t said anything ... and to tell the truth, I’m the one trying for a baby — and I’m REALLY trying, so much so that my back keeps going out — because Mandy doesn’t seem to have her heart in it, she just lies there with that look of surprise on her face. It used to be delighted surprise, but I’m not so sure any more. Ah women, who can understand them? After all these years you’d think her biological clock would be ticking like crazy.)

Oops! Looks like I got sidetracked with my personal problems er ... life, I mean.

So, back to One Giant Leap.

History shows that civilizations rise and fall. We’re on a rise that’s been steadily accelerating since the Renaissance. But it’s not a constant slope. Our knowledge of science and technology has increased in fits and starts, slow at first until now where it appears to be increasing exponentially and people talk about the spike, or singularity as Ray Kurzweil calls it, where the pace of technological change will be so rapid that its impact will irreversibly transform human life as we know it.

Certainly, it seems that way, what with the incredible pace of change with consumer electronics, growing processing power of PCs and software sophistication, and the boom with the internet. But if we step back and take a look...

There have been no major theoretical breakthroughs in physics since relativity and quantum mechanics and that’s almost a century now. There is a lot of talk about dark energy and dark matter, but that’s all it is — talk. There is no experimental evidence and even the theoretical basis isn’t consistent.

Similarly, the only way into space is with rockets and looks like it will be for a while to come. And when we get into space? Current ion engines will get you nowhere fast, light sails might allow for a leisurely jaunt, which is all that interplanetary travel will be for the future, and exploding nuclear bombs or antimatter engines are pie-in-the-sky ideas that may never come to pass. And what about the moon? The last time anyone set foot on it was about thirty years ago and the prognosis for going back is a decade or more in the future if the political will lasts that long. As for Mars, it’s still a pipe dream.

In medicine it’s the same. The promise of antibiotics and vaccines has stalled and in some cases gone backwards with the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Twenty or so years on, we still don’t have a vaccine for HIV and now there is the threat of bird flu, another influenza and the resurgence of old diseases that were supposed to have been eliminated. Cracking DNA and the genome was supposed to lead to a bright future of personalized medicine and it may do, but what has been revealed is that there is another layer of complexity to overcome — the proteome. And this layer is far more complex than the genome because a gene can code for a multitude of proteins depending on how it is triggered and how it and the DNA around it is affected by such things as methylation.

My view is that rather than a spike, eventually we will hit a barrier and level out. All of our technological innovation is still based on science that hasn’t really changed in a century and while the costs in some areas are in virtual freefall, the costs in other areas have risen to the point that research has dwindled almost to a stop. We may not reach this barrier for a century or so, but the law of diminishing returns will catch up.

And it may also be a bumpy road.

War seems to be an inevitable component of the human character. Last century we had two world wars and a pile of local conflicts. How many will the twenty-first century throw up? And while war is a major trigger in technological innovation, for fifty years we have been in the situation that a major flare up could result in the demise of our civilization. When the last two world wars occurred, most of the globe consisted of third world countries. The balance is changing as China and India boom. If conflicts over resources, ideologies and national pride escalate into all out war, it might be enough to send the global economy into freefall from which we might not recover for hundreds of years.

In fact there are a lot of potential problems on the horizon that threaten our civilization — global warming and dwindling resources are the old bogeys, but burgeoning middle classes in the old third world countries will exacerbate these effects with their lifestyle demands. It might well be that growing global wealth will be the greatest threat.

How all this will pan out, no one can really say.

One scenario is that global warming will trigger sea-level changes with the collapse of the Greenland ice sheets and the global melting of glaciers and this may cause huge population upheaval as coastal cities are inundated and agricultural boundaries shift. On the other hand, the melting of Greenland’s ice sheets might stall the Atlantic conveyor and trigger an ice age in a time span as short as a few decades. Whether either of these futures will come to pass in the next fifty years or in a couple of centuries time, no one can definitely say, but there is increasing data pointing to both.

In a way it’s funny, because it’s through our prior ignorance of what pumping billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would do, coupled with our lack of political will to do anything about it, that has resulted in these two doomsday scenarios that face us. And yet, if an ice age was triggered, the world might end up pumping out huge amounts of greenhouse gasses in an attempt to raise global temperatures to stop the ice sheets expanding and thus alleviate the problem. Now wouldn’t that be ironic.

But you can look it in another way. An ice age would lower sea levels quite a bit. In previous ice ages, sea levels dropped by as much as a hundred meters or more. That would uncover a huge expanse of new land to colonize and exploit. Sure it might be a bit cold, but the weather wouldn’t be so extreme.

That’s the thing about the future. Anyone who tries to predict it inevitably ends up wrong. And that’s where the fun lies. I seriously doubt that the future world I envisioned in The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracywill even remotely come to pass, but parts of it may do.

The history I envisaged for The h’Slaitiarr Conspiracy covered a period of about 800 years so that (hopefully) most of today’s environmental problems had passed. The main points are:

  • 22nd century — discovery that paves the way for interstellar travel.

  • 23rd century — world coalesces into two power blocs that are evenly matched and locked in a stalemated cold war.

  • 24th century — interstellar flight achieved as 50 year world war breaks out. Cities transfer underground for safety.

  • 25th century — war ends when robots become sentient and stop the war. World government is formed and interstellar flight rediscovered. Robots accept role to monitor society in a police role. Rejuvenation becomes commonplace and Earth society becomes stratified.

  • 25th and 26th centuries — Oxygen based planets colonized. Robots seek their own world.

  • 26th century — Alien race discovered, but it is more advanced and shows only an academic interest in humanity. Eventually they develop a global interpreter and allow Earth to set up a limitied embassy on their home planet.

  • 26th century — a hundred year war breaks out that ends in stalemate, which leaves factions on both sides embittered.

One Giant Leap is set just prior to the start of the major war in the 24th century. At the moment I have some ideas for a series of three or four novels that cover this period through to the end of the war and the rise of the sentient robots and I hope to flesh it out in a few years time. I also have another short story, A Question of Loyalty, which is set during the h’Slaitiarr war and which explores ideas for another short series of novels set during that war. Whether I put it up next or not, I’m not sure, but it will be soon.

What history shows is that civilizations develop in fits and starts. They might be stable and last for a thousand years and then, just as suddenly vanish. Or they might fade, but never quite die out, and then bloom again. But one fact is certain. They all peak and then fall and that fall may either be short and spectacular or a slow fade into oblivion, and that’s what I’ve tried to take into account.

Whether our civilization has peaked or not, I don’t know, but it’s fun to imagine...

Read One Giant Leap at