To go along side my article on Fantastical Airships!, please allow me to present Fantasical Airships! This site includes some weird, waky, and wonderful designs, as well as few that might have actually worked. They include one of my favorite designs from the 1920’s, the Bel Geddes, complete with all the comforts of a steamshipliner:
Hello everyone. My name is M.C. Williams, author and creator of Mythania. I am a writer, a programmer, and a gamer; and I am a recovering Microsoft User.
Before I begin, let me start off by saying that I am not an anti-Microsoft war-monger. In fact, for my day-job I develop Microsoft ASP.NET 3.0 web applications, and I believe it is a perfectly fine development platform–if (and only if) you are willing to accept the caveats of being perpetually tied to Microsoft. I, as an individual however, desire the freedom of choice and the ability to do what I want with my computer, its operating system, and its programs, without restriction or dependency on any corporation or organization.
That is why I use Linux. That, and the fact that it’s really cheap.
Specifically, I use Ubuntu Linux, and have been for the past nine months (as of this writing, July 2008). In that time I have come to the astonishing conclusion that we don’t need Microsoft any more. Actually, I was of that opinion several years ago, but only now have the alternatives matured to the point where it has become practical to do away with Microsoft altogether and replace its operating system with Linux on the common person’s computer.
Continue reading →
One of the defining characteristics of the science fiction and fantasy stories is that they take place in a setting different from our everyday world (the “real world”). Even science fiction and fantasy that takes place on Earth must have some key differences that distinguish it from the real world, otherwise it would not be science fiction and fantasy, but would simply be contemporary or historical fiction. However, the fact that science fiction and fantasy stories are set in such an imaginary world requires one key concession from the reader or audience: suspension of disbelief.
Suspension of disbelief is simply the willingness of an audience or reader to temporarily accept what is clearly untrue in reality for truth in a given fictional setting. For example, while dragons and other magical creatures do not exist in the real world, an audience or reader must “suspend their disbelief” and accept that dragons and magical creatures do exist in the context of a given fantasy setting. Even so, there are limits to how far an audience or reader will go in suspending their disbelief. While they may accept that dragons exist in a certain fantasy setting, they will not accept a dragon that in one scene is red and then in another scene is blue (unless it has been established that dragons can change color). In other words, suspension of disbelief cannot be used as a convenient “out” to cover-up plot holes, contradictions, logical fallacies, or shoddy historical research. In order to facilitate suspension of disbelief, the work must at least be internally consistent.
Without internal consistency, a work of science fiction or fantasy will quickly dissolve into absurdity and chaos. All writers strive to remain internally consistent within their own work–even parodies need to be consistent in their satirical mockery. But mistakes do happen, and when a reader stumbles upon such an error in consistency, they are rudely jarred from their suspended disbelief into the sudden realization that not only what they are reading is make-believe, but that the author is sloppy as well. There is simply no excuse for such embarrassing mistakes because they can be avoided easily enough if an author simply takes the time to build his or her world.
Continue reading →
Today, July 10th, is the 152th birthday of Nikola Tesla (born 1856). In honor of this great man, whose legacy has been largely forgotten, I give you these wonderful documentary videos. If you have only a foggy idea of who Tesla is, or only think you know who Tesla is, I strongly encourage you to watch these.
Nikola Tesla – The Forgotten Wizard:
Nikola Tesla: The Missing Secrets
The Wall Streat Journal Online has this excellent 4 minute (almost) news video on the Steampunk sub-culture, highlighting the extraordinary workings of Richard Nagy (aka Datamancer). Give the video a whirl!
Here’s a video tour of the Edison Club in LA, to the music of Abney Park. If I lived in LA, or happened to ever visit LA, I would most certainly make it a point to stop by. The Edison Club is probably the only “steampunk” club in America, at least of which I am aware.
While I have been writing for approximately 20 years, accumulating thousands of pages of written work, I am quite ashamed to say that I have never been published. And it has not been for the lack of trying. I have failed to have a single book published by any of the major publishing companies out of New York, or any of the “middle-size” publishing companies in New York or elsewhere; equally, I have failed to get a single short story accepted by any magazine, big or small. Granted, I am referring primarily to magazines and publishers specializing in science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction genres, but the problem seems to exist for everyone in the industry. So I ask myself from time to time, “are my stories simply nothing more than shoddily constructed drivel of meaningless prose, or is there something else going on?”
I recently heard another unpublished writer expressing the same frustration, but he made a startling observation which I had overlooked. It is not that the publishers are rejecting manuscripts–it is simply that they are not even reading the manuscripts in the first place!
But let me begin at the beginning…
Continue reading →
I just found this wonderful, picture-filled article at DarkRoastedBlend.com on assorted airship designs from the early 20th century to the modern day. Some of the airships are recently proposed designs for re-invigorating an interest in airship technology. Others are images of “airships that never were”, and while some could be called “steampunkish”, the majority are from the early atomic era, as attested by various atomic-powered airships!
Nevertheless, such designs (minus the atomic part) are of considerable interest to a steam-fantasy writer such myself. You may find them of interest as well. Such marvelous airships and dirigibles are the subject of some of my upcoming stories, as well as my in-progress novel series, for Mythania.
In this article I shall review various commercial (that is to say, “not free”) software applications that writers may find useful. I will not review software for which there are perfectly viable Free and Open Source alternatives. This is why you will not find Microsoft Office reviewed in this article — see my article on Free and Open Source software for an alternative to MS Office and other commercial software This list of recommended commercial software for writers is rather short compared my to list of Free and Open Source software, mainly because there are only a few useful commercial software packages for which there is no free or open source alternative. Most of the software listed here is for Windows only, except where noted.
Keep in mind that none of this software is absolutely necessary. Some of these applications will assist in your research, or in world building, or in the creative process of writing. But no software can write your stories for you. Do not become bogged down in the technology — if you end up doing nothing but building worlds and designing characters you run the risk of never getting to your story. I personally have found the best tool for writing to be my own imagination.
Nothing is worse than an old cliché, but today more than ever the adage stands true: “the only constant is change”. We live in a world of constant change, surfing the rising wave of the Information Age. And no industry changes faster than that of computer technology and software development.
But constant change requires constant adaptation, and those who cannot adapt will fall by the wayside. Constant change means that everyday everything you own — be it an automobile, a telephone, a television, a computer, or thousands of dollars worth of software — are slowly and inexorably fading into that dark and dismal abyss of obsolescence. Who wants to spend several thousand dollars on software that will become obsolete in two or three years? Who would buy a car knowing it will not be able keep up with newer cars in a few years time? Probably no one. But this “planned obsolescence” seems to be the norm in the fast-passed world of computer technology.
Today, thanks to advances in manufacturing, the cost of computer hardware has dropped relative to the overall cost of software. As a result, while you may pay $500 for a new computer, the final cost may end up tripling after you add software. Additionally, newer versions of software packages are often released on a yearly basis, while some software giants even require annual subscriptions forcing you to pay every year to continue using their software. And what about when you buy that flashy new computer? You might think you can install the software from your old computer on your new one, but the electronic registration methods now being employed by many companies cripples your ability to freely use the very software which you purchased. In fact, the EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) on most commercial software is so restrictive and rigid that one might think you were signing a pact with the Devil simply to install the application.
So what does all this software ultimately cost? Let’s take a look at the numbers for some common software applications that might be found on a writer’s or artist’s computer (retail prices as of June 2008):
Microsoft Windows Vista Home: $129
Microsoft Office Professional: $499
Adobe Acrobat Pro: $449
Adobe Photoshop CS: $649
McAfee Internet Security Suite: $69
All told, that comes to over $1795! And expect to pay that every 2-3 years to keep up. Granted, you may not need Photoshop or Acrobat, and may get a “deal” for the other software if you purchase a computer from Dell, Gateway, or HP, but the cost of software, combined with highly restrictive EULAs, has simply become unacceptable.
…That is, especially when you consider that there are perfectly viable Free and Open Source alternatives for all of the above mentioned software… and more.