Sci-Fi Writers Take Note: There Are Way More Stars Than We Thought

I just read a fascinating news release from JPL about a sounding rocket experiment that measures the light between galaxies. The conclusion: “While we have previously observed cases where stars are flung from galaxies in a tidal stream, our new measurement implies this process is widespread.”

In other words, there are way, way more stars out there than we thought, drifting in-between the galaxies.

From the article: “The light looks too bright and too blue to be coming from the first generation of galaxies,” said James Bock, principal investigator of the CIBER project from Caltech and JPL. “The simplest explanation, which best explains the measurements, is that many stars have been ripped from their galactic birthplace, and that the stripped stars emit on average about as much light as the galaxies themselves.” [My emphasis.]

So for every galaxy of stars out there, there’s another galaxy worth of stars drifting around between the galaxies. To me that means there’s twice as many stars as we thought in the Universe, which also means there’s twice as many chances for habitable worlds.

It also means that in your star trekking speculative fiction, really advanced galactic civilizations could more conceivably make their way to other galaxies, as it’s not a big huge empty stretch between — according to the article, it’s more like a halo of stars between, and perhaps even bridging, the spaces between galaxies.

It’s fascinating to me to think of civilizations developing among these isolated, far flung stars, and now mathematically speaking, the chances of other civilizations existing have essentially doubled.

Okay, I’ve planted the seed in your imaginations. Let them run wild!

Here’s a link to the article: The Universe is Brighter Than We Thought »

Avoiding the Awkward “Ego Character”

A common mistake fiction writers make is to over-identify with a main character, and endow him or her with all the traits the writer would wish for personally. They never make mistakes, always have a snappy comeback, and often exhibit superhuman intellect. Characters of the opposite sex will fall at their feet in worship.

This is the writer’s ego character.

No matter how much fun you have writing this character, beware of it. More times than not your readers will find the character embarrassing and awkward to read. As a fiction writer, you want your readers to identify and cheer your characters on, but this will not happen when they do everything right and never make mistakes.

People don’t fall in love with the perfection in people, they fall in love with the imperfections. The mightiest heroes have flaws and weaknesses. Sherlock Holms was always broke and suffered addictions. Superman succumbed to kryptonite and had romantic problems. Captain Kirk was an egomaniac and a sex addict.

The best thing you can do for your character is give them lots of faults and problems, and have them succeed despite their handicaps. Remember, everyone loves a Cinderella story. Everyone loves an underdog.

Note: This was originally posted here on October 16, 2006. I brought it back up to the top feeling it was relevant for National Novel Writer’s Month.

Problems with Lync 2011 and Mac OS X 10.10

Anyone having problems with Microsoft Lync 2011 on their Mac after installing OS X 10.10, this may be the solution for your problem (it was for me)…

Well at least I did something creative…

So I get up this morning all inspired to work on my novel, but then see something unexpected and beautiful on my living room wall, and then this happens…


…instead of me writing on my novel.

Bending Phones and Unwanted Music

Something not worth complaining about.I damn near deleted this blog this evening. It came really close.

I was frustrated by all the people out in Internetville spending an amazing amount of time and energy arguing and worrying about expensive phones bending if you’re dumb enough to sit on them, or complaining that a company spent millions of dollars to give them music they don’t want. People, we have a whole lot more important things to focus our brainpower on.

I came out to this humble little blog of mine to vent about this, and then realized how much time and energy I’ve spent here basically doing the same thing. So, in frustration, I thought … this blog is going bye bye.

But I was taking one last look down through the articles still left here (I’ve culled this blog several times, and it needs it again) and realized there’s actually some things worth keeping. I’ve shared some good things from time to time. And while traffic to this blog is only a fraction of what it used to be, there are still people trickling in to read it. And, so…

I didn’t hit the delete button.

If nothing else, it serves as a good reminder of how much I change from year to year.

And, just for the record, Consumer Reports completely debunked this iPhone “bendgate” bullshit.

Also, when someone gives you a gift, the proper thing to do (if you were raised correctly) is to thank the giver whether you like the gift or not.

Promotion & Relocation

Progress on the current manuscript is stalled because I’ve been promoted and am being relocated. I’m now a digital marketing manager at one of the top 50 “most innovative companies” as listed by Forbes (for the forth year in a row). So now my day job is filled with creativity and fun, and when I get home … I lack the energy to work on my fiction.

I’m okay with that, at least for the time being. My day job is rewarding enough. If someone offered a deal where I could give up my day job and write on my novels full time, I’d turn them down. Fiction writing is fun and all, but it’s not really that rewarding, and it’s a lonely process. There’s seldom if any immediate gratification to be had.

Day job: daily gratification. Constantly. And it pays really well.

I’ll continue plodding away on my current book, and I have two more I want to complete sometime within the next few years, and then… I’m good. I’m done.

At least that’s how I feel right now.

Heighten and Transform

Great, beautiful thing I heard on Nerdist podcast during an interview with writer / actor / director / comedian Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man): in a scene, aim for truth, and you’ll hit funny on the way.

Heighten and explore the “game” of a scene until it transforms.

Listen here: Nerdist Podcasst with Jon Favreau »