So, I haven’t disappeared. Or died. Or gone into the witness protection system. I’ve just been really busy (and a little lazy) and haven’t had time to do the things I’d like to with this blog. I promise I’ll do better. Just as soon as I get caught up. In the meantime, go buy my dang book!
So, way back in the dark ages of 2019, I read a brief article about a novel virus called SARS-CoV-2—what we commonly refer to as COVID-19. Friends of mine were already saying this wasn’t gonna be any worse than the flu, but I paid attention. I told them that if we didn’t take it seriously, the entire country would shut down.
I don’t claim to be a virologist or immunologist, but I listened in all my science classes, and I’ve read widely my entire life. Especially now that I write Sci-Fi.
A few months later, and the death rate from this flu-like virus proves to be ten times the worst flu epidemic, and I told everyone we would shut down the schools soon. Later, I said they wouldn’t open on time in September. A very intelligent friend told me things would get back to normal by Christmas of 2020, and I reminded him of human nature. My exact statement was “People are stupid, and we’re gonna see wave after wave of variations for years. He countered with “But viruses always mutate to lower virulence,” meaning they become less deadly with successive generations.
I say all the above in hope people reading will believe me when I write here that we haven’t seen the worst yet. While it’s true viruses become less deadly as they mutate, that’s with a normal life-cycle. What we are doing with this is definitely not normal. We could either let it run its course and burn itself out by everyone getting it and hence creating a modicum of herd immunity (not optimal because of the death rate) or we could vaccinate and take simple precautions and achieve the same result without the high number of deaths.
What we’ve chosen (and by we I mean the idiot anti-vaxers) is the worst possible path—limited vaccination and huge numbers of super-spreader events. From this, we’re going to get random mutations in selected populations, and some of these will be more virulent. If we keep this up, we may see a death rate rivaling the bubonic plague. I remind readers that the plague had a 13% mortality rate among treated patients, and a 50%-60% mortality rate for those untreated.
In short, please help us save the world. Mask up and get vaccinated, or us survivors get to divide up all your stuff when society collapses.
Feel free to comment below, but COVID misinformation will be deleted.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: I am not a physicist, nor have I made an in-depth study of the subject. I also am no Superman geek who knows the entire canon. What I am is a science fiction writer with a better than fair passing knowledge of the character, and someone who was able to successfully explain the ending of Lost to my friends. That, right there, is qualification enough.
I’ve been thinking about Superman’s various powers over the years and have spent much time arguing with fellow comic book fans over who is the better superhero in the DC universe, The Man of Steel, or Batman. Setting aside Batman’s obvious mental illness, Superman still comes out on top every time. “But Batman has beaten him more than once!” they say, as if that matters.
Riddle me this—Why doesn’t Superman just nuke him from orbit? The reason is obvious—Superman is actively trying not to kill his friend, but Batman has no such compunction. He fights like a lunatic, and the battle is therefore asymmetrical. I laugh at those who say Batman doesn’t kill—take a look at decades of comic history for the real story.
So, after settling the issue of greatest (at least in my mind), we come to the meat of the Batfriends’ major complaint—Superman is a god, and therefore is cheating as a superhero.
But, for the first time, I reveal here that Superman is no god. He doesn’t, in fact, have any powers at all.
For an explanation, we must travel far back in time.
Krypton, by all accounts, was a planet orbiting a Red Giant. A Red Giant star is very old, at the far end of its lifespan, and by most theories began as a sun much as our own. At the end of its life, with much of its hydrogen burnt, it feasts on the helium and iron byproducts and swells into a Red Giant and swallows the inner planets as it expands. What’s left are the gas giants that were once orbiting far outside the habitable zone. Much of the gas on these planets would be stripped away by the solar wind as the star expanded, leaving a smaller—though still massive—rocky, or even a crystal core. Krypton is one of these.
A planet such as Krypton might be more than four times Earth’s mass, with a toxic atmosphere and very low surface temperature. And it was here the “Kryptonians”, already a starfaring race, settled a small community to mine the planet for resources. These proto-Kryptonians were much like us (let’s just go with that for now) and could never have withstood the gravity or atmosphere, so they altered themselves with nano-technology to give them the ability to live on the planet without the need for environment suits. The nanites are intelligent enough to give the people whatever abilities are required for each given circumstance and are powered by the radiation from the Red Giant.
Why nanites and not simply altering DNA? Because the proto-Kryptonians traveled to other planets, and each had their own needs.
At some point in Kryptonian history, they became a separate and distinct colony from their homeworld—far enough removed that they no longer remembered their origins. It was possibly due to an interstellar war, cutting off the distant colony, and leaving them to fend for themselves. This might explain their reluctance to leave a dying planet.
Once Kal-El arrived on Earth, our yellow sun—much richer in the radiation spectrum than Krypton’s sun—supercharged the nanites with the energy they needed to endow Superman with his abilities, and even explains his evolving powers over the years. The machines in his body give him the abilities he needs when he needs them. It clarifies his ability to stop a falling plane instead of just punching through it—the nanites forcefield emitted to protect him envelops whatever he is trying to stop. This even explains the effect kryptonite has on him but not humans. The radiation interferes with the normal functions of the nanites, not his biological systems, and is why he heals so quickly once the kryptonite is removed.
This is why he is the hero he is. He knows the nanites could fail at any given moment—that he could die at any time without their help—yet he charges head-first into every dangerous situation. This guy commits, and he does it on pure faith.
Every single so-called plot hole is filled (maybe even Bizzaro) with reliance on the technology we know the Kryptonians possessed.
Deus ex machina, indeed.
Superman may have come from Krypton, but he is not of Krypton.
So… I had a discussion a while back with a friend who happens to be a genius and a physicist. I made the simple supposition that since Pi is a non-repeating infinite series, we could assign each character necessary for printing a book to a simple three-digit code. My theory is that somewhere in Pi is a long string of digits corresponding to all the recorded knowledge of, well, the whole universe, past, present, and future.
This would, consequently, mean that every book I have ever written, or ever will write, is in there somewhere.
Now here’s my question: if this is true, what does this say about free will? In fact, if I even consider writing a book or story, it’s in there whether I write it or not. What does this say about destiny, or even time’s arrow? Of course, we can’t actually find these strings of numbers, but what if we could? Would knowing what I write ten years from now affect my decision to write it? It might not matter, because there’s room for every story in every style of every author ever born or will be born. That’s the nature of infinity.
We could do this for music, too, finally hearing Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony, or the full catalog of works Mozart would have written had he not died young. Future history books are in there, too, making a mockery of the idea that information can’t travel backward in time.
Also, hidden within Pi are the blueprints for a faster than light engine, or a working matter transporter. Perhaps plans for a super-efficient table-top fusion reactor. Anything you can think of, really.
Yep. These are the kinds of things I think about all day long. The cool part was my friend agreed with all this. I kept hoping he would point out the flaw in my logic, but he couldn’t.
Such is the nature of infinity…
Okay. I get it. Hospitals are a playground for all variants of Covid. But seriously… what is up with the only one visitor rule? Or should I just call it the “one family member in the hospital” rule?
My son’s appendix burst yesterday, and until they decided it had and they would operate, only one parent was allowed in the fucking hospital. Not “oh you have to wait in the lobby”, but you have to sit in your car or on the bench outside. In damp 48 degree weather. At 5 a.m. And the lobby was the size of a basketball arena and fucking empty. And I am triply vaxed and wearing a mask.
There really should be some flexibility, but administrators, who have very little real-life contact with patients and family, made a decision the staff must follow without question. Again, I get the need to play it safe–if we had from the beginning, this would have ended almost a year ago–but if you can socially distance at twenty feet or more, the rules could probably stand a little relaxing.
Food for thought…
And why should you bother reading my books?
It’s a long and winding road (apologies to the Beatles), beginning when I was nine and wrote a (*ahem*) “novel”, which I immediately mailed out to either DAW or Tor. I wish I’d kept the rejection letter because they obviously knew they were dealing with a very young Sci-Fi fanboy. I wrote little after that, but became a voracious reader, then turned my attention to music. I won’t bore you with the details, but I ended up earning my D.M.A. in Music Ed. and Conducting, also spending my time teaching band for over 20 years. During that time, I also published over three dozen works for wind ensemble and orchestra.
Once I’d decided to do this writing thing full-time, my amazing wife dove into the deep end with me and became our sole support. Scary, right? More for her than me. I’ve published a few shorts–one in Analog–but most of my time belongs to the novels. I just have too many ideas to set them aside while I write a short. I do keep doing them, though, whenever I’ve finished a book, or kicked it out of the nest to fly on its own. I also still write music, having just picked up a commission for a large work. I’ll be damned if I know how I’m gonna shoehorn that into my schedule, but what the hell?
The only Con I hit regularly is Comicpalooza, and only because it’s close to home in Houston. I encourage people to contact me, and not just because writing is a lonely business. But, yeah, that’s some of it.
Looking forward to hearing from a reader or two in the future!