Beyond the Realm of the Fantastic

Today is going to be one of those usual days for me, one where I get out of the house and actually do something besides sit and stare at a computer screen.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the later, but there are times when you want to immerse you mind in something else besides cat pictures, bad memes, and your own word smithing.

Today I’ll be down to the movie theater watching Pacific Rim, which my daughter and I have wanted to see since long before it appeared.  One hundred and ten minutes of monsters, the extraordinarily huge Kaiju, slugging it out with mecha, the tremendous Jagers.  It’s the sort of flick that appeals to the ten year old in me that wants to see incredible things happen–

Even when I know it’s all pure BS.

A while back I wrote a couple of articles for another website.  The first one was about powered armor, and the followup was about mecha.  Both were pretty well received, though there was a comment on the second article from someone who had taken exception with some of the things I’d said–like, “You know, really big mecha are impossible.”  This led said commenter to explain that I, like so many others, was wrong, the cube-square law didn’t work when something was really big, and he hates having to explain this to people; in fact, to do so makes him violently upset . . .

Sounds like a personal problem to me.

I know mecha eighty-five meters tall are pretty much stretching the limits of the possible.  Mad Art Lab covered the science points in far more detail than I could, and over on the Scientific American site, Kyle Hill writes about Jager Punches and Deep Sea Bombing.  While they might make some kick-ass drinks (“I’ll have a Jager Punch, straight up.”), the science is way wonky.

But I’m not going for a science lesson.  I’m going so I can watch Kaiju get their butts beat by a tiny Japanese woman in big freakin’ mecha.

I write some science fiction, and I love to play with things like space flight and time travel.  I try to keep things “in the real” as much as possible, but there are times when I know what I’m doing will require someone to suspend disbelief quite a lot.  Never as much as what passed for “reality” in the movie Armageddon or The Core, but I do have my moments where I think, “Yeah, probably never happen, but what the hell.”  I know when Arthur Clarke wrote Rendezvous With Rama and Earthlight, he knew the “reactionless drive” was pure handwavium, but he was writing a story and needed something incredible–ergo, something fantastic that can’t ever happen.  Though in the case of Rama, we don’t really want to say that aliens were responsible for the reactionless drive, but . . . aliens.

Writers of fiction write things that aren’t real.  We make things up in our head and put then down on a medium so they’ll exist in a form that others can enjoy.  While we can stay “in the real” as much as possible, in the end we’re gonna talk about stuff that just isn’t real.  And sometimes that’s going to involve things that are so far beyond real as to be impossible.

If you go for the fantastic, at least make it awesomely butt kicking.  ‘Cause people love watching a monster get its butt kicked.

Life to Mars

NaNo grinds on.  I’m over fifty-five thousand words, and to say I’m going to his sixty-five thousand is a forgone conclusion.  With ten thousand words to go–or there about–I can finish up by Sunday.  I felt good about the writing last night, with the chapter flowing very nicely.  I was also using the Document Target function in Scrivener to hit my goals, and to push myself a little–as in, once I hit my goal, I see the counter for another hundred words, then I hit that and set it for another two hundred words . . . Yes, those programs can help you move along, and get to those word counts that you want to hit.

There was something else that happened to me–in my dreams, of course.  It wasn’t triggered by the news that something “Earthshaking” is coming from Curiosity, or the vision that Elon Musk has for getting to Mars . . . but I think it was Mars that called to me–

Or to one of my characters.

It was just a quick vision, not a real dream, one of those things that comes to you in the hinterlands between sleep and awake.  The things that came to me . . . well, it was food for the story mill.

It was a woman, walking through a desert.  She was in a long coat, and her face was wrapped to keep the dust out of her face, and goggles to keep her eyes clear.  The sky was dark, the sand red, and in the distance there was a city, rising up beyond the rim of something–maybe a ravine, maybe a crater.  The woman stopped to take in the vista, then unwrapped her face–and smiled.

That was all I got before I woke up.

Some time back I had a dream about a woman who was also a mecha pilot, and probably a Muslim as well.  It was an interesting dream, because there were things happening in the dream I didn’t expect.  Since that dream, I get something like a little nudge about the story, but not much beyond that.

The vision that came to me, however–it was related to this story, and to the character.

For some reason I’ve thought of Mars these days, probably because I’ve always found the place interesting.  And with Curiosity now there, more is going to come to light about the Red Planet.  I still have my copy of the Arthur C. Clarke novel, The Sands of Mars, with the famously now-wrong-after-all-these-decades line, “There are no mountains on Mars,” because we know a lot better these days.  The Mars I know these days is not Barsoom, though someone has taken the opportunity to place Barsoom on today’s Mars, which is a very cool thing–though I’m damned if I can find the link right now.  Woe is me.

Perhaps this is the direction my next story is suppose to take:  a tale of struggle upon a Mars that looks slightly terraformed, or maybe with people who have become transhuman, and for whom walking upon the surface without breathing apparatus isn’t that big of a deal.  It’s possible it’s both.  I don’t know at this point–

Because I haven’t started building my world.

Where Do I Get My Mecha Licence?

My dreams–there is no control over them.  They just come.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad . . . sometimes extremely interesting.

I’d have to say last night was well into the later category.

I’ve used a couple of different drugs to try and help me sleep the last couple of months.  The first one I was taking didn’t seem to do much for me, but it did cause me to have some very lucid dreams.  My doctor then put me on the one that uses that big, glowing luna moth to help you sleep, but, in my case, that lazy bastard hasn’t been helping me out at all.  Maybe it was the blue moon the last few night that’s kept it away, but the moth is definitely falling down on the job.

Last night, worn out from a long day and a very long drive, I switched back to the first drug to see if it might help me drift off to slumber land.  Not at first, because I lay about for a while before I crashed.

But when I did . . . oh, man.  Dreamland, baby:  here I come.

There was a big section where it seemed like I was spending my time helping people out.  How?  By jumping in what looked like a mecha and going after bad guys.

Now, if you don’t know what a mecha is, let me give you a quick primer.  In a quick sentence, it’s usually a humanoid like machine that’s piloted by a human, or many humans.  And they are usually very big–as in like three or four times the size of a person, up to mile-long spaceship long.  While a lot of mecha can be quadrupedal, the Japanese like to get into the Super Robot and Real Robot stuff.  Last night’s dream was petty much in the Super Robot stuff, although it wasn’t so much a suit I had, as it was just a walking death machine.

The me in the dream was the Cassidy me, and she . . . well, I was walking around in a jumpsuit and a head scarf for the majority of the dream, though I know I was wearing an abaya at one point.  That made for an interesting vision, because the Cassidy me has never been like that at any time.  It was very strange seeing the dream me strap in and slip in some earbuds under the head scarf before heading out to blast the shit outta things.

I was even more surprised that I remembered so many things in such details after I woke, because the last few weeks my dreams have been sorta impossible to pin down.  I think it’s that damn luna moth; it’s not helping me sleep, and it’s taking my dreams.  Probably selling them to someone who’s going to write the next Fifty Shades of Grey.  Which is just my luck, because I was seriously considering writing some mommy porn . . .

Speaking of ideas–is there one there?  Maybe.  Who knows how my brain works:  I’m certainly still learning.  But every time something like that hits me, I start wondering if I have something I can flesh out into a story.  Since I’m setting up my idea file today, I might as well thrown that one in there, because you never know–I might just have the next big thing that people want to read.

Or not . . .

You never know until you take that leap of faith.