Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Yes, I'm a Little Tease

I was so excited at my editor's first pass with the prologue to IIA Book 2, The Naga People I had to share it. You rock Carolyn! Remember this isn't the final version and changes could be made. (There, disclosure - er - disclosed.)

For the quantum agents of the Interstellar Intelligence Agency, their moment of realization to the quantum kinetic ability is usually through some heightened moment of distress around the time they hit puberty. For Becka, it was when her planet was destroyed and everyone she knew was killed with exception of her brother who was thankfully at college.

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13th Day, 3rd Month, 2993 G-Year
Above The Planet of Anemoi

Becka Utiv gazed down, staring in horror as Anemoi folded under the large asteroid.

For a split second, a mere glimpse, it appeared the magnificent ice planet would devour its enemy. Its body swelled but held together, whole.

Then dark fissures of crust spread along the white crystalline surface like veins denied circulation. It was then she knew her home was gone as the point of impact began to break, splitting open and crumbling under the unstoppable force of the hell ball.

I haven't earned entrance to The Glorious End.

How could she have, if the gods above forced her to observe this nightmare, helpless to do anything but watch from the stars?

She'd obviously died.

How else could she be formless, without a physical body? She'd separated from reality and was only a wisp of spirit gazing down at the trauma her people faced.

But no sound.

So, Father was right. Nothing but empty, quiet terror out here in the cosmos. She'd expected the collision to have a torrential rage of sound to match the visual apocalypse happening before her.

Father... both he and Mother were down there. Her grandparents, uncles, cousins, friends. All dying as she hung over viewing, unable to do anything to save them. Becka tried in vain to move through space, but she had become part of space. There was nothing to move.

A southern chunk of her planet flew up through her, past her, beyond into the depths of space.

"You must return to the physical world, Becka."

The Voice surrounded her, comforted her, infused within her.

Who are you? Are you The Great One?

A soft chuckle from an external source resonated through Becka's spiritual being.

"Far from it, Child."

I don't have anywhere to go. Anemoi is gone. Forever gone.

Grief rippled throughout the universe around her, surprising her even through her turmoil.

"Go to your brother, Becka. Go to Andrew."


As impossible as that sounded, her brother's apartment slowly began to replace what little remained of the universe at the atomic level. It was at first as lucid as a mirage but gradually solidified. In her peripheral consciousness, just out of full reveal, her angel stood poised in almost-complete silhouette, except for its red eyes, which gazed steadily toward her.

With a nod, it pointed towards where her brother entered in from the kitchenette, and then itself dissolved back into the nothingness of the universe from whence it had come.

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Hope you all enjoyed the little tidbit. I absolutely can't wait until this releases in June! I wish I could share the cover, which I have, but I haven't been given permission quite yet (partly because I was in too much of a hurry to share this with y'all to double check whether it was okay or not).

Thursday, March 14, 2013

See the insect, be the insect

GE Hadiman - Source: Adifruit Industries

Exoskeletons aren't just for insects anymore. As we humans are so good at, we've modified nature to our own benefit and adapted the concept to assist us in various areas of our lives. And this technology has come a long way from GEs bulky 1960s Hardiman robotic suit.

Exoskeleton technology can be made for the whole body or partial body. They use sensors and controllers to power hydraulic-driven components to overcome the limits of the human body.

Alrighty, so three main fields come to my mind when I think "exoskeleton tech": medical, industrial, and of course military.

Medical Application
It's always nice to start technology posts with areas that benefit humanity as a whole and not just for advancements of new toys to kill the enemy better and faster. Because of this, I'm starting with the medical field.

Ready? Okay, here's my opening statement for this section: Exoskeleton advancements will tremendously improve the quality of life for many patients.

Pretty snazzy statement huh? Awe-inspiring, prolific and all that jazz...

Cyberdyne's HAL suit, which is already rentable in Japan for the elderly, is hailed as a nursing-care suit and designed to detect appendage movement and guide the motion in a natural way. So, if you have weakness in your arms and can't fully extend it, HAL will finish the motion for you. It also helps balance you and stabilize yourself as you walk or climb stairs. (Source: Popular Science)

HAL - Source: Cyberdyne

Although there are pretty cool exoskeleton body-bracing systems out there for paraplegics, I was really drawn to the prototype out of Berkeley California, the Austin, because it's actually affordable for a larger population. (Source: PC World)

Industrial application
Okay, remember the payload exoskeleton from Aliens? (Man, Ripley was one of my favorite female heroines!) Well, think that but less bulky... and less kick ass and you've got the modern payload exoskeleton systems for use in the industrial setting.

Panasonic's Powerloader Light, for example, helps the user carry an extra 88 lbs and shifts weight as needed to counteract the walking motion. (Source: Hightech)

Military Application
Last but most certainly not least, DARPA has been funding the development of this technology for military use since at least 2001. And for those of you who don't know what DARPA is... well, you're just not paranoid enough and beyond my help.

As of 2010, it was down to Raytheon's OXS 2 and Lockheed's HULC super-soldier suits. With these suits, soldiers can walk or run for hours, carry loads up to 200 lbs effortlessly, and lift up to 500 lbs or more without breaking a sweat. (Sources: Popular Science, Hightech-Edge)

As a mom of a son getting ready to join the Marines in mere months, I have to say this interests me greatly. Now if only they could beef up their superman tech to dodge bullets I'd be a happy camper.

Little side trip: this dodging bullets bit might be happening with the breakthrough of nanotechnology. A nanotechnologist at the University of Texas has developed a way to chemically grow nanotubes like tiny muscles. The micro particles contract with voltage and are energized by hydrogen and oxygen. These things are 100 times stronger than human muscle tissue, and when woven into fabric become a second, stronger "skin" for soldiers that can stop bullets. (Source: Spiegel)

How cool is that?

For some reason, this reminds me a tad of Robert Heinlein short story, The Beast, where the animal he's tracking on a remote planet turns out to be an escaped engineered human fighting machine who'd lost his humanity.

So, there is my little geek trip. I haven't had a to use this in one of my stories because I mostly write far future stories where unmanned military technology reigns.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Choice is Made

Last week, after my flight was cancelled, I sat at one of the working tables. There my mind began to wander. Naturally wander into the realm of my writing mind.
So, any-who. As I sat in this deep mind-wander a beautiful pitch-black man appeared out of a mental darkness. Seriously, a true black the color of fresh laid tar. Some mysterious soft light hit him and a midnight blue sheen flickered off his skin. Eyes, tinted by a hardened coating of some sort, began to glow orange. His body was unimaginably flexible, bending in ways not natural to normal humans.

This was Aleron, the agent for the next IIA case, book three. I guess my mind made up which story to do after False Salvation is finished.

I knew the next story would involve a life vessel, where the residents lived permanently on the ship. The case needed an agent acclimated to a zero-g environment, and what better one than someone born and raised in zero-g?

Perfect, right? My thought to. But it poses some challenges. First and foremost is what is needed in a human species that lives in space. (Yes, I've decided to make them a separate species instead of an ethnicity due to their interaction with and distance from other humans colonies/worlds. Within this human species I'm thinking of having 2 to 3 races, depending on how the research pans out.)

Aleron's species was genetically engineered centuries ago for life in no gravity. They're skeletal structure was modified so most of it is a special thick cartilage. What bone is left is super dense with little to no porous state. Their skin is thick and darkened to bounce off space's gamma and UV rays. Instead of eyelids, they have a special coating that protects their eyeballs from damaged, and again fights off the pesky gamma and UV rays. One of the coolest parts -- that I'm still working out -- is their modification of both inner ear and neuro receptors that manage their equilibrium and dexterity.

There's still a bunch to finish figuring out in this character's specie, aside from the storyline itself, but that's what's so exciting... the challenge is ON!

So, what is the most exciting research you've included in a story?