Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Two Basic Stories

I've thought about this for a long time when it comes to writing or fiction stories of any kind. And the movie Belfast reminded me of it. Here it is:

There are two basic types of stories in fiction. One is ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Such as the people in Belfast living through the "Troubles" in the late 1960s. 

The other type is extraordinary people doing what for them is ordinary things. Think superheroes saving the world. 

Ordinary people doing ordinary things would be rather boring, I think. So you have to add extraordinary drama to their lives to make a story.

Extraordinary people doing ordinary things (such as going to work, taking kids to soccer practice) would also be boring. But them doing things that are for them ordinary (saving the world) is not boring.

And that's my theory of fiction writing.

What do you think? Am I nuts? Or do you agree. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

My Issues with Star Trek: Picard Season Two

Star Trek: Picard season two is over. It was fairly interesting and somewhat fun. But it had a lot of issues with Star Trek canon.

**Spoilers Follow**

One: Guinan didn't recognize Picard. I can understand if she were surprised to see him in the 21st century. But she first met him in San Francisco in 1898. This happens in "Time's Arrow Part II," the first episode of season seven of Star Trek: The Next Generation (hereafter ST:TNG). In "Time's Arrow Part I," she tells him that he has to go back in time to meet her.

Two: Our intrepid heroes travel back to 2024.  Everything looks a lot like our current 2022. But, according to the "Space Seed" episode of Star Trek (the original series), there were massive eugenics wars in the 1990s. Here's a bit of dialogue:

Kirk: "Name: Khan Noonien Singh."

Spock:  "From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world, from Asia through the Middle East." 

Kirk: "The last of the tyrants to be overthrown."

And from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan speaking: "...[T]he Enterprise picked up the Botany Bay, lost in space from the year 1996 with myself and the ship's company in cryogenic freeze?"

So there were eugenics wars that ended in 1996 and I doubt 2024 (less than 30 years later) everything would be hunky dory again and it would look anything like our world today. Yes, Soong pulled out a file marked "Project Khan" but that would move the eugenics wars to maybe 2030 instead of the 1990s. (This is also hinted at in the first episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.)

Three: Picard's older brother, Robert. In the ST:TNG episode "Family" (second of the fourth season), Picard goes to his family home in France and encounters his older brother, Robert. Yet in all the flashbacks to Picard's painful childhood, Robert is never around.

Four: Wesley Crusher as a "traveler." In Star Trek: Nemesis, Wesley is seen in a Star Fleet uniform at Riker and Troi's wedding. But in the ST:TNG episode "Journey's End," (Season seven, episode 20),  Wesley did go off with the travelers. Which is why a lot of people were surprised to see him in Nemesis. So which is it, Star Trek?

Later I might talk about my problems with Strange New Worlds.

The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Strange New Worlds Episode One

I was going to wait until the end of the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to comment on it. But I have a huge issue with the first episode so I'm going to discuss that here.

**Spoiler Alert**

In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time," Spock starts to experience the "Pon Farr." This is the once-every-seven-years mating period. It is strongly hinted here (and in other Star Trek canon) that Pon Farr is the only time Vulcans mate. 

Also, in "Amok Time," Spock explains that his marriage to T'Pring was arranged (I watched the episode on Paramount+ to confirm this). In that episode he says to Kirk and McCoy that the wedding was "By our parents arrangement when we were but seven years of age."

Yet, in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, T'Pring asks Spock to marry him (not have the marriage arranged) and they go off to celebrate by having sex. That is, mating. Like humans. Not Vulcans. (The sex is interrupted before it gets started by Captain Pike calling.)

I haven't seen today's episode yet, so I have no comment on it.

The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Semi-Autonomous Cars... What Would I Do?

Tesla Model S
I've been thinking about a new car because my current auto will be nine years old in December. Next year around this time, I'll probably be seriously looking. 

I've already ruled out Tesla because their longest range model (Model S) can't handle the distances I regularly drive. Yes, the EPA range is 405 miles, which would be plenty. But I've read that EPA range is like EPA mileage figures: your range may vary. And if it's too hot or too cold your range will drop. And if you run the air conditioning or the heat, that drops your range more than it would in an internal combustion vehicle. And Car and Driver (my bible for all things automotive) says they only got 281 miles out of a Tesla. Which isn't enough. There is coming the Lucid Air Dream Edition with has an EPA range of 501 miles. That might be enough but it costs nearly $170,000!

Teslas are expensive, too!

While I was researching Teslas, I looked at their "Fully Self-Driving Capability" (which they currently charge $12,000 for). That means on highways and interstates, the car pretty much drives itself. But Tesla makes clear that the driver has to pay attention and have at least one hand on the wheel. It's website says:

The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous. 

This is, to me, the worst of both worlds. You aren't driving, but you can't do anything else (look at your phone, read, etc.). To me it would be mind-numbingly boring. I'd rather be driving. You can't even really sightsee because... you have to pay attention as if you're driving. 

So what's the point? I guess I'll wait until I can read or look at my phone or sightsee before I buy an autonomous car.

However, I was driving home from Spokane late one night and I was kind of wishing for a semi-autonomous car to help. I was very tired and found myself wandering in my lane. An autonomous car wouldn't do that, I assume. So perhaps they have their place.

How do you feel about autonomous cars? Are you looking forward to them or do you dread them? Let me know in the comments below.