Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


If I were an Evil Overlord

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, it’s just as good as dreaming about winning the lottery!

A long time ago, I remember seeing a list of things not to do if you ever become an Evil Overlord. Well, the other day, I found it. Twice, actually. Bull’s Place has the “short list” and has the “long list”. The second list also has some history about how the list was developed.
Something to think about the next time you design a villian. Or, try to take over the world.


High-Tech Windows

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Oh, yeah, this is cool!

Finally, we have the high-tech windows that we were promised in Blade Runner! According to this article on Wired News, Andersen Windows of Bayport, Minnesota, and media giant Time Warner have put together a “concept house” of sorts that feature the highest of high-tech windows. These windows have fiber-optic LCD screens built into them that let them become opaque and be used as a display. Yeah, that’s right, a window that’s also a TV or computer monitor. In fact, these babies even work as a touch-screen so you don’t need a keyboard. Imagine a whole house of these things. Oh, I’m all a-quiver with the possibilities!

Go read the article and dream big, high-tech window dreams!



Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

What is the art of magical writing?

Well, I think it would be called “chirography”. It’s not really a popular way to do magic in the West, but the Eastern magi have used it for generations. Taoist charms and such are all mainly written spells on special paper with special ink and blessed by special ceremonies and prayers. Of course, Western wizards have the Runes, but it just doesn’t have the same feel. Runes are usually engraved on stone or wood and they seem so primative with all their sharp angles and simple forms. But, Eastern calligraphy is so flowing and exotic that it just seems to be made from magic.
I was first introduced to this kind of magic via anime and manga. A priestess holds up a strip of paper with Chinese symbols on it, shouts out a “prayer”, and a fireball launches from the paper. What fun! Every so often, I search for information on this, but rarely come up with much. The latest time, though, I found Yellow Dragon Talismans.
It occured to me that this would be a great way to do magic in a fantasy fiction world. It’s not really something that I’ve seen before and it has some nice limitations that generate some good plots. Also, as a writer, I like the emphasis on how magic the written word is! In any case, it’s an idea that captures my imagination, so I thought I’d throw it out for anyone else who might be fishing for an idea for their constructed world.


The Ethics of Terraforming

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Is there such a thing?

Well, David Grinspoon thinks there is. In this article on Slate, he questions whether or not we should be going to Mars with the nationalist attitude that is driving our country right now. I have to admit, he raises some interesting points. For one thing, the proponents of Martian terraforming are trying to say that we’ll be conquering Mars the same way we “conquered” the frontier here in America. But, of course, we didn’t do that here. We stole America from Her natives. On Mars, though, we will really be making the frontier.
Right now, Mars is not much more than a ball of rock and dirt and ice. No breathable atmosphere or any real “life” as the layman recognizes it. It will take years to reshape that planet into something that can support life. Well, really, it will take decades, maybe even centuries. In any case, a really, really long time. But, already there are people saying that we, as in Americans, should claim Mars for “ours”. I wonder what they mean? Will we deny the Russians or the Chinese a space base there? How will we control that border when we can’t hardly stem the tide right here on Earth where the borders are relatively well defined?

Well, it’s an interesting and thoughtful article and, of course, a great source of ideas for some science-fiction stories.


Psycho Toys

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, I mean really psycho toys…

It all started with a harmless, little article on Wired about new cube toys. (Make sure to read the article. It explains a lot about the rest of this.) Then I Googled on a few of the artists and came up with SweatyFrog Toys, KidRobot and finally XL-Shop online. Oh, my stars and garters, as a favorite comic-book hero was known for saying. The toys are truly mad and more fun than a barrel full of developers! They do get a bit pricey, though. SweatyFrog Toys has the best prices, but the other two have a better selection. In any case, it’s great fun to window shop there. And, hey, it’s Friday, go have fun!


Cultural Quarantine

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a New Moon

Open borders and travel help the planet survive?

Hmm, maybe. Certainly Bruce Sterling seems to think so. In his article on Wired News, Guns, Germs and Software, he talks about diseases breeding in isolated pockets of isolationist extremists that could ravage the planet. And, based on what I read in Guns, Germs, and Steel, he may well be right. (His title is, of course, an allusion to the aforementioned book.) It’s certainly an interesting proposition. In fact, it wouldn’t suprise me to see this in a book from Mr. Sterling one day.
In today’s climate of isolationism and fundamental extremism, there are a frightening number of populations that could incubate such a disease, but the most notable are factions in the Middle East. And, of course, such an extremist group might find a use for such a disease…..
Hmm, something to think about….

Of course, Mr. Sterling takes the opposite stance. He posits that those isolationists are putting themselves at great risk. Cutting themselves off from technology, especially medical technology, and becoming hotbeds of incubating diseases is a recipe for disaster. At least, to them. And, again, something to think about.
Sometimes the business of writing is inspired by grim details of brutish existance.


Ad Astra Per Aspera

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“To the stars through hardship.”

That’s roughly what Ad Astra Per Aspera means. I think the effort is worth it, though. There’s been a lot of talk lately about President Bush’s new space plan. Basically, his plan has two branches. First, establish a moon base. Second, send a manned mission to Mars.
This Wired News article talks about the first step, building a permanent moon base. This, of course, has been the dream of many of us since the very early days of space travel. I know that I’ve been waiting for it since I was a little kid. I even remember getting a book from a school book fair that had cardboard cut-out toys that which was all about a moon base. But, something happened. We lost our way and this dream got shelved. Now, President Bush has revived it. Let’s hope it stays alive.
The second part of the space plan is to send a manned mission to Mars. Again, a dream of many of us for many years. I started to think about this after I started listening to the environmentalists yapping about the state of the Earth’s ecology. In fact, I’ve said for years that if it’s so bad, we need to invest in getting off the planet! Now, it seems, we may.

Of course, there’s a lot of talk about how much this will all cost. Honestly, I’m not sure why it matters. It sure didn’t matter when we went to the moon. All that mattered was that we got there and beat everyone else. I’d say the same thing applies here, too. Now we have to compete with the Chinese and the Indians, who both have viable space programs. Sure, the front-runners are the Chinese who have only recently put an astronaut in space, but still, they’re gaining. We need to beat them to the Red Planet. I mean, c’mon. “The Red Planet”? How can we pass up the chance to make headlines about beating the Red Chinese to the Red Planet?
Seriously, maybe some good, old-fashioned competition can restore our country to the greatness we once enjoyed. I sure hope so. And, I’d love to get a call from a grandkid on Mars.


RoboDog… Soldier?

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Er, a mechanical dog for the military?

Okay, I’m not sure why they don’t use the real thing, but according to this story on WiredNews, the US military is working on building, essentially a robotic dog. The idea is to have a robot that can carry more of the soldier’s gear and still be able to keep up with them over rough terrain. Interesting, but the robot looks like a clunky, mechanical dog. The article even makes the comparison. Seems to me, with all the problems that they seem to be having creating this robotic helper, it would be better to stick with the K-9 units. But, then, I’m an old-fashioned guy.
In any case, it’s an interesting story.

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