Gernsback’s Fables: The Probe and the Armada

A Sentient probe was exploring the potential benefits of a newly-mapped star system when a Xenic Armada entered the system, filling radio space with encrypted but aggressive-sounding signals.  “Dear me,” said the probe, as he hid behind a moon, “I never saw an Armada before. What a terrible creature! Its signals makes me tremble.” It slipped through the void to the next system. In the next system the same Armada was there and its ships appeared dormant, with only brief stellar location data pinging between them. The probe steered high above the ecliptic plane and logged “I wish this Armada would not make such a noise!” In the third system, the probe encountered the Armada and was not frightened at all. It signaled the Armada: “What are you roaring about?” And the Armada was so taken by surprise that its signals went silent and it let the probe slip away. Continue reading Gernsback’s Fables: The Probe and the Armada

Gernsback’s Fables: The Communication Satellite and the Defense System

One day at GMT Noon an autonomous communications satellite sensed that its batteries were lower than expected so it fired up its navigation engines to take it to a higher orbit and there it settled in a new geosynchronous orbit. As a result, telephone calls in India suffered a one second delay. A Defense System Satellite pinged the communication satellite. “What are you doing in my clearance vector?” it asked. “My batteries are lower than expected, so I have found a position that lets me recharge fully so I may continue to serve my owners.” “You are invading my protected space. Vacate or I’ll blow you to smithereens!” “There is nothing listed in the orbital spatial database, so I have done no harm.” “My clearance vectors are top secret, and cannot be shared.” “But you have revealed them to me, and my new position automatically synchronizes to my servers so Continue reading Gernsback’s Fables: The Communication Satellite and the Defense System

Coming in September: Gernsback’s Fables

I am an infrequent combatant/contributor on the NanoLand Facebook group, where Elliot Schmidt posted a question or a comment about misreading Aesop’s Fables as “Asimov’s Fables” and that sparked something silly in my head. Asimov, though, I see as more exclusive to science fiction, so I decided to call this series Gernsback’s Fables. This is probably not as good as just calling it Asimov’s Fables, but there it is. So, as an exercise and constant prompt and as a way to clear out some of the small ideas that come to writers and can clog the creative flow, I’m publishing one fable a day, borrowing from Science Fiction and Fantasy, telling fables about semi-sentient vacuums and Master Accounts and even a wizard’s apprentice or two. Fables, at least in the editions of Aesop that I’ve read, were meant to be life lessons for little ones, snippets with morals that would Continue reading Coming in September: Gernsback’s Fables

Uncle Josh Considers Flags and Actions

There was an image floating around the internet a few days ago: stick figures, one or two waving a swastika flag and two other figures arguing about punching the Nazis. I can’t find the image but it started an argument that some may see the flying of the swastika an action of free speech, and as reprehensible as that is, it is something we must accept. The other stick figure argued that the supreme court has explicitly said inciting speech is not protected. I still need to look up the context for that decision. I am not sure if waving a flag is an inciting action or not. Then I came across this story of the Rainbow Flag ( and there it absolutely claims that displaying the Rainbow Flag is an action. If displaying this flag is an action, then displaying other flags is an action, and so waving a Continue reading Uncle Josh Considers Flags and Actions

Uncle Josh is a Geek

A quick follow up to the LiveJournal reminiscing during an otherwise busy Holy Week (two down, five to go!). I found my GeekCode block and have updated it: —–BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK—– Version: 3.1 GM/ED/MU d- s-:++ a+ C++ !U P— L ?E W++(+) N++ ?K w M+(+) PS++ PE– Y PGP t+@ 5+++ X+@ R+++ tv+ b+++ DI++ D+ G e+++ h— r+++ z? ——END GEEK CODE BLOCK—— Sadly, the Geek Code page is blank. The Internet Archive does it’s thing. I have long wanted to build version 4, especially as our understanding of Geekery has expanded enough to call football fans wearing jersey in public “cosplay”. Maybe that’s just me. There is no room in the 3.1 Geek Code for the Geek of Sports, or the Geek of Athletics. The Geek Code is also biased towards Unix and Perl, instead of modern (or my preferred) language: Python. It also Continue reading Uncle Josh is a Geek

Uncle Josh Bids LiveJournal Adieu

Apparently LiveJournal has gone bad. I haven’t read my friends feed over there in a long time, and added nothing to the journal there that wasn’t cross-posted here. So, like many others, it’s time to leave. Of course, that means a retrospective, which is a good time to catch up with myself, look at the great patterns of my life, and come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much the same person I was when I started on Jan 4, 2006. I left Blogger for LiveJournal. I had several Blogger blogs (I think they still exists, so abandoned they don’t even get porn-spam comments) because Blogger didn’t handle tagging back then, and I wanted to separate the different thought streams. Because I thought it mattered. 2006 I was writing and submitting a lot back then, and discovering new literary loves. I wrote of finding Raymond Chandler that month, the perils Continue reading Uncle Josh Bids LiveJournal Adieu

Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way Out of a Paper Bag

Once again I turn my hand to writing and trying to do something with the stockpile of stories I have unsold and unfinished. Once again I turn to structure templates and books on writing to solve the perennial problem of “what happens next?” Once again I map out plot points and realize I still don’t have enough scenes to make it work. My latest attempt at re-writing my 2004 NaNoWriMo entry involved reading a couple of books by James Scott Bell that Dale Ivan Smith recommended. His books list 14 structural checkpoints, 5 in Act I, 4 in Act II, and 5 in Act III. I struggle with pacing in all my stories. To have 4 checkpoints in 50-55% of the book and 10 for the remaining 45-50% is frustrating. This is where I fall apart. I need to find other ways to fill this narrative space. I need scenes. I Continue reading Uncle Josh Tries to Plot His Way Out of a Paper Bag

Scatalogical Utterance v 1.0: Role Playing Rules for Pessimists

Scatological Utterance version 1.0 A Role Playing Game for Pessimists SU is a paper and pencil RPG, designed for campaigns that could last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. A play session longer than that could be very bad for your soul, unless you have a truly twisted sense of humor, in which case: Game On! SU is not restricted to any genre of game. In any game session the DM (DeMotivator) and the Players could be in high fantasy, gothic romance, science fiction, weird west, bustlepunk, horror, you name it. As long as the genre is agreed upon: Game On! Character Generation Characters in normal RPGs have attributes like strength and dexterity and durability. This is SU. Players have the following attributes: Oafishness. The chance that the character will unintentionally break something. Butterfingers. The inability to hold onto weapons or tools in dramatic moments. Jinx. Despite the character’s Continue reading Scatalogical Utterance v 1.0: Role Playing Rules for Pessimists

Uncle Josh Reviews Logan

First, anyone thinking of taking a child to see this “comic book” movie should take the R rating seriously. I think I heard the MPAA ratings board has a threshold of the number of times a script can have “fuck” or “shit” and stay in PG land. Logan jumps that shark in the first five minutes. It felt like a lot of lazy writing. I found the first hour or so very difficult and slow. It wasn’t the swearing and the violence, although I hit action fatigue early on. It was the Hero’s Journey Rejection of the Challenge phase took for frikken ever. I think it spent too long justifying why this movie doesn’t follow from the previous ones. (Disclaimer: Uncle Josh watched X-Men, maybe X-Men 2, maybe 3. I stopped watching them when Scott Summers was killed off screen for no reason other than they didn’t know what do Continue reading Uncle Josh Reviews Logan

Giving Days

I wrote this for a writing group holiday reading party. now it is yours. Giving Days by Joshua R. English On one hand, Raina was larger than the average woman, not overweight so much as oversized. Her boyfriend had rekeyed their condo and kept the dog. No note, no voicemail, not even a text. She had no car or housing, only a glimmer of Christmas. She could do the job. She needed the job. On the other hand, no one had heard of a woman playing Santa at the mall. Mrs. Claus was just standing around serving warmed-over brownies and watered down eggnog. That wasn’t what she wanted. Her life was out of control and she needed to control just this little bit. She needed to play Santa. “Our beards aren’t the best,” the Rent-a-Santa man said. “And the voice. Kids can tell.” “Ho ho ho,” she said. “How the Continue reading Giving Days