25 June 2013

A Love Letter to the Dreamers

Dear Reader of this blog,

I've missed you. How have you been? Enjoying your summer? Or has your schedule remained the same, hashing through the daily slog of a job that does not quite suit your mental verve or skill set? I've been there, done that. My guess is that you get by through a combination of avocational misadventures and a certain portion of dreaming, both day and night. I sure hope you've been having good dreams.

It's interesting (sometimes) to contemplate dreaming. Of course, that's very much the theme of my major work, but I've sworn to myself not to promote my science-fiction trilogy today. (What's it called? Can't remember. See? No promotion today.) But seriously, as you go about your weekly routine, do you ever think about a dream you've had? I mean the nightly dream; ever wonder what it meant or is supposed to mean?--if you believe in that sort of thing. I tend to have a lot of dreams in which I am traveling, usually lost in a strange city, or alternately finding my way around a large unfamiliar house, checking every nook and cranny, peeking in cabinets. But that's just me.

And there's the other kind of dream, the kind they write songs about: Don't give up on your dream, la la la!  Well, I'm pushing 39 again (lost count how many times that's happened) and I still haven't decided what my dream is. Yes, that kind of dream: what you want to do with your life, what goals you want to achieve, what you want to be known for after you are gone. I think back to the dead music composers, authors and poets, painters, even the generals, statesmen, famous women, and the unnamed teachers who gave a simple idea to an unremarkable youth who grew up to bend the world to his/her will--those people--and I wonder what their dreams were. I suppose that because we remember them today, for better or worse, they managed to achieve their dreams.

You know, it seems the question I am asked most (that is, after "What, you're still here?") is what I really mean by the "dream land"--whether socio-scientific concept or mere writing gimmick. I recently had an experience which provides fodder for explanation: I traveled for a week. Nothing special about hitting the road and just going somewhere to see what's there. However, upon returning home, everything is the same. After a deep sleep, I awakened and the thing that occupied my attention for the past week now seems like only a dream I had. The only way to prove I ever went on a trip are the souvenirs I purchased ("souvenir" means 'something by which to remember') and the photographs I took. Nothing more. (Sure, U.S. Customs probably has an electronic record of my passage, if you want to check.)

So...if I were a character in a novel and I had various adventures, say, on another world, and then I returned home, it all might seem like a dream when I awoke from a good sleep. A little confusing, certainly. But that's the concept behind the feeling of remembering something that may or may not have happened in reality, or seemed just as real as reality in a dream, that is remembered as a real event even though it was only a random biochemical surge between 3:17 and 3:21 in the morning while you were quite unconscious yet dreaming of a greater purpose to your life than what you are doing these days for which you need all that precious sleep.

It's probably deep into the week by now, so I wish you well, and hope that whatever you do in the time remaining before the weekend, you do with honor and purposefulness. Someone will remember what you did, and that someone may very well be you. Or your dream-self.

Yours always,

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

17 June 2013

Everything you wanted to know about Time compressed for the time you have to read it!

It seems as though I am supposed to post a blog entry today in order to keep the world in balance. However, the balance of the world is not my responsibility. At least not today; I have it on alternate Thursdays. I will, therefore, post something about time, since that is something everyone seems interested in. Specifically, time travel.

Ever awakened from a trance that seemed three and a half days long but by the clock was only 90 seconds? Had a "senior moment" and not been a senior? Felt the day was only 22 hours long and you had much more to do? Or the day seemed like it was 32 hours long? You may have experienced a temporal vortex--an eddy in the stream of time. Time happens, of course.

Now suppose you could predict when those would happen and could prepare for them, even exploit the extra moments of time? Suppose you could do more, like...take an hour from Earth time and indulge your perverse indulgences for 135 days in an alternate timestream. That would be great, huh? But how does that work?

There are two major ways of thinking about time and time travel:

1) time is linear, or

2) time is cyclical.

Stories use either a man-made machine to travel or our hero/heroine finds a natural phenomena, like a wormhole, to travel through. Personally, I find it bordering on implausible to create a machine to bend time so I've chosen to use the natural phenomena method. In the linear structure, time goes on and on like a speeding rocket and you can't jump around so much as try to outrace it to go to the future or slow down and hop aboard if visiting the past. In the cyclical model you can jump from loop to loop going to the future or the past. I tend to believe the linear model, especially for use in my novels, although the cyclical model may work best if you are using a machine.

I have read countless time travel stories. (I could count them, actually, if I could remember all of them, but that is another issue.) H. G. Wells may be considered the father of time travel stories, yet even the Epic of Gilgamesh has some time-bending aspects. One of the best stories I've ever read was in an anthology of sci-fi stories and involved a guy going back to the time of the dinosaurs and encountering a hunting party of aliens; he falls in love with the princess, of course and chooses to stay there. (Can't recall the title or author at this moment--it was in an anthology edited by Robert Silverberg in the 70s; I'll get back to you with it.) Another of my favorites is Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man, a novella in which a Biblical scholar goes back to check on Jesus and through serendipity becomes the person crucified on the Cross. That's an example of cyclical time: the guy from the future goes back to the past and becomes the reason the guy from the future goes back to the past--got it? Wanting to get out of our present structure where we are slaves to time is a major theme in fiction--and the work place.

Or, there is still another view of time, which may prove more accurate:

THE DREAM LAND Book II "Dreams of Future's Past" is about Time. (Book I was about Space; Book III will be about the end of Time and Space.) And, as I learned from Roger Zelazny (especially in the Amber Chronicles), characters often like to sit around discussing profound ideas. I borrowed that concept in this excerpt about time travel:

“What’s all this talk about time travel?” Jason exclaimed, bits of zurrek falling from his greasy lips. “There’s no such thing. I can’t lose weight that way, and you sure can’t change history by going back and doing something different. If you could, everybody’d be doing it.”
Jason swallowed, washed it down with a swig of gor.
“Time is linear—it goes in a straight line—and even if you do a loop-de-loop and go back to the past, it’s still the same straight line, like a tape or ribbon that you have merely twisted around your finger. It’s straight but you’ve bent it. That’s all. You can’t cross over from one part of the ribbon to the next part of the ribbon. It doesn’t work.”
Jason paused to take another mouthful of the zurrek, so succulent when it was grilled the way they did it in Aivana. When he was satisfied, he picked up the conversation as though he had not just put away another plate of the big four-legged bird.
“Everyone’s fate is just that: Fate. I don’t mean that our destiny is pre-arranged...mmm, like a page in some cosmic calendar. I mean, it just happens that way. Nothing can change it. If you change your routine at random so you’re out shopping when an airplane crashes into your house, when you otherwise would be napping on the living room sofa, then that’s what happens. It wasn’t planned by any God of Fate, and it wasn’t anything that you specifically did that made it happen or not happen. It just is. The changes you make are your fate. Changing your fate is part of your fate. It’s just some mind game. It’s the stuff of movies.”
Being the Mexas, he could indulge his host’s wild ravings, but this was different. Jason was on to something. Besides, Jason was more than his host; indeed, being Tammy’s husband now, the palace belonged as much to him as it did to her. More importantly, he wanted his childhood friend’s advice. And assurance. So he put on his salesman’s face and began selling him an idea.
“So all of these events that just happen.... Are they so predetermined that part of the predetermination is we don’t think about them being events that are predetermined?”
He waited for his colleague to reply, but Jason was still contemplating the words, or the next dessert.
“Look at what happens to people in the world. Things like earthquakes, and that airplane crashing into my house—do they just happen, as you say, or are they actually accidents? That’s what the word means: it’s something that happens without anyone expecting it. We say ‘it’s just an accident,’ right? Well, suppose that someone somewhere in some distant time zone has done something by design or by accident which causes that airplane to dive into my house. There’s no reason—no logical reason why that airplane should crash, or that it should crash into my house instead of an empty field. And there’s no particular reason that I should decide that particular morning to alter my routine and go out shopping instead of taking my nap. It’s an accident, like you say. It’s not planned, it’s an accident. That is why we call them ‘accidents.’“
Jason was nodding, either understanding or simply to acknowledge he was listening, since his mouth was full of the next course, something creamy, peach-colored.
“You see,” the Mexas continued, finished with his meal, “accidents are caused by something unexpected, unplanned. They just happen, as you say. But they must have some cause and the only such thing that can be a cause is some action by another thing or person. Every action has an opposite, equal reaction, they say. You’ve studied that a little, haven’t you?”
Jason wiped the dupoi from his lips, nodding his head.
“Doesn’t matter,” the Mexas continued. “You understand, right? What about in time? If it were possible, then one mere extra blink of my eye sometime in the past may catch someone’s attention, and taking their attention away for one extra millisecond may cause them to not hear what their friend was saying, such as, ‘Watch out for that airplane about to crash on us!’ You see, anything could be an instigator of some reaction that assumes itself in another time as what we call an accident.”
Jason cleared his pallet with a ghot wafer and motioned for the servants to remove the dishes he had emptied. He belched loudly, not an Aivana custom but one of his own. A nearby maiden brought a cloth to wipe his crumb-spotted face, like a mother and her dirty little boy. Once cleaned, he returned to their discussion:
“You’re saying that every time someone has an accident it’s actually someone’s responsibility in some past time?”
“No, there’s no responsibility,” the Mexas replied. “I’m saying there are no accidents. Things just happen, as you say. Those are your words. By design or accident these things happen. But something still causes them to happen. Now, suppose that if someone who knew something bad was going to happen had the power—and by ‘power’ I mean they had the knowledge and ability as well as the will or desire to assert themselves against whatever inconvenience might be involved to perform the act, not ‘power’ like with magic—if someone had the power to do something that would result in that future bad thing not happening and went ahead and did it...? That person would be a hero. I mean, if he prevented the bad event, right? He’d be a hero.”
Jason thought for a moment, let out gas, grinned.
“So you want to be a hero? Is that it?” Jason asked. “I thought you did that already. Why do you want to be a hero again?”
“Not me. I’ve had enough of that. Too many close calls at hero-dom. Accidents are what I’m talking about. And the power to change them. It’s not some theoretical debate. It’s real.”
“You are talking some theoretical debate—because it can’t be done.”
A maiden brought a new bottle of something, and Jason grabbed it to scan the dark blue liquid inside.
“It’s wishful thinking, like prayers or flipping a coin into a fountain,” said Jason. “The power of will cannot change the straight line of fate—and I use the word ‘fate’ loosely for your benefit; be aware—” he popped the cap on the bottle, spilling some of its contents over the fine saffron robe that stretched over his belly—“be aware that I’m not attaching it to any mystic or religious ritual or dogma. By ‘fate’ I mean ‘whatever happens to us now, whatever will happen to us in the future, or whatever has already happened to us in the past’...regardless of how or why it happens.”
“Happenstance, eh?”
He poured the drink into the silver chalice of the Mexas, then filled his own vessel: the old white ceramic mug made in Taiwan, inscribed with ‘World’s Greatest Grease Monkey’ that he had rescued from the garage where he once worked.
“All right,” he grunted. “Does that satisfy you for now?”
They raised their drinks and clinked them, but only Jason sampled it.
The Mexas sighed, set his drink down on the table. “Here all theory ends and reality begins.”
Jason finished the mug, reached for the bottle. “What are you talking about?”
“It can be done.”
Jason took up his full mug in both hands. “Only in your dreams.”

Note: Mexas is the Ghoupallean word for 'king' though it comprises a different way of thinking about royal duties than merely being born to them. One is usually appointed Mexas because of administrative prowess.

P.S. Still another schematic of the nature of time and how we specks of universal dust dare think of it, pesky as we are:

If you need to catch up with THE DREAM LAND Book I "Long Distance Voyager" you can get it hereBook III "Diaspora" is almost finished and should be available by the end of 2013.

 (C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

07 June 2013

Introducing THE DREAM LAND Book II "Dreams of Future's Past"

Those of you who have been eagerly anticipating Book II of THE DREAM LAND Trilogy need anticipate no longer. It is here...er, well, over there at that Amazon place as a Kindle ebook. First things first, right? Let me catch my breath and I'll get started on the print edition as well as return to finishing Book III.

Some music fans will note the title of this novel "Dreams of Future's Past" and associate it with a music album by the Moody Blues. You would be correct. You may also complain that my title is not the same as theirs. You would correct again. While I liked the idea behind the title of their album enough to borrow it (and my book's original title was "Days..." rather than "Dreams..."), the exact phrasing they used did not quite fit the time travel idea of Book II. So I took some authorial license, with apologies to the Moody Blues, and changed it. You might also be delighted by how many Moody Blues references you can find in THE DREAM LAND Trilogy.

Here is a brief description:

When you conquer a new world, do you change its history or change yourself?
After his adventures in Book I, Sebastian Talbot (a.k.a. Set-d’Elous, legendary warrior) has exiled himself to a desolate island, content to laze away the days writing his memoir. Until the emissary from Queen Tammy arrives with a mission he cannot refuse. Tammy, the IRS clerk he took to Ghoupallesz in Book I, wants him to fetch the son she left on Earth. How could she return for him? She married the King of Aivana.

That mission raises desperate questions for Sebastian: If he can go back and forth through these interdimensional doorways and arrive in different time periods, perhaps he can do something to prevent the big war he fought through, the war that destroyed his family and millions of others. He returns to his Ghoupalle wife Zaura in the years he was previously away. While on patrol duty, he comes upon a young poetess he knows will become the rebel leader who helps overthrow the monarchy and causes the wars. What would you do?

Meanwhile, back on Earth in another timeline, Sebastian awakens from a coma and is helped in his recovery by Dr. Toni Franck. An affair develops—just as his opportunity for escape comes along. Later, as Sebastian/Set escorts teams of mercenaries back and forth to conduct their history-changing business, he tries to meet up with Toni again only to realize the police are still in pursuing him. Desperate to see her, he arranges a meeting only to have a SWAT team show up, cornering him. Can he escape through an interdimensional doorway this time?

THE DREAM LAND Trilogy continues in Book II with parallel time lines, world domination and alien romance, and as always the minutia of heroic minds playing god without a rule book. Cheer or jeer--it's up to you!

*     *     *

Take your first trip to the other side with THE DREAM LAND Book I "Long Distance Voyager"!

Then follow the further misadventures of absent-minded romantic hero Sebastian Talbot in THE DREAM LAND Book II "Dreams of Future's Past"!

And Book III "Diaspora" is well underway and should be coming out in December 2013 or early in 2014.

*     *     *

If you are new to THE DREAM LAND environment, let me offer you a description of Book I which should give you a sense of the overall story:

How far would you go to save the love of your life? Through a portal to another world?

Sebastian, that quiet tax examiner at the corner desk in the IRS service center, carries a dark secret: once upon a time he and his high school sweetheart Gina found a rip in the universe and stepped through it to a strange world of magical beauty.  
Far from being a Disney-esque playground, the world of Ghoupallesz bursts with cosmopolitan elegance, alien perversions, and political strife. Gina, the adventurous one, falls in love with the adventurous possibilities. Not Sebastian; always practical, he insists they return to Earth. Gina refuses so he goes back alone, vowing never to return. Yet he finds himself drawn back repeatedly--he calls it “research”--and often crosses paths with Gina. Sometimes he saves her, sometimes she saves him, forever soul mates. 
Now years later, life on Earth hasn’t gone well for Sebastian. Then the headaches revisit him, with flashes of memories from Ghoupallesz. Gina is in trouble again, he senses, and he must, as always, save her. Meanwhile, a pair of too-curious IRS co-workers have accidently overdosed on the Elixir of Love he brought back on his last trip and the antidote exists only on Ghoupallesz. With these co-workers in tow, Sebastian returns through the interdimensional portal, fearing it may be his final adventure. He must gather his old comrades from the war, cross the towering Zet mountains, and free Gina from the Zetin warlord’s castle before her execution. Perhaps then she will stay with him.  
But are his adventures to the other side real? Or are they just the dreams of a psychotic killer? That’s what the police want to know when Sebastian returns without his co-workers.  
THE DREAM LAND is a genre-mashing epic of interdimensional intrigue and police procedural, a psychological thriller marbled with twisted humor, steampunk pathos, and time/space conundrums.

Here is a review of THE DREAM LAND on the Connie J. Jaspersen's Best in Fantasy Blog and Carlie Cullen's blog.

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(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

03 June 2013

Conquered a world? Now what?

Apologies to my dear readers and followers for my previous blog posting. The need to block out spoilers practically ruined an otherwise fairly decent synopsis of THE DREAM LAND Book II "Dreams of Future's Past" and made it unreadable for most of you. I learned a lesson: blocks are not as humorous as I believed them to be. 

Please allow me to try again....

So let's say you've reached the pinnacle of your interdimensional voyaging career. You've discovered "tangents" (those pesky interdimensional doorways), made the journey to a new world, learned its language and customs, completely and convincingly infiltrated the society there, wooed and won a local beauty, made a family, insinuated yourself into the military and risen to a rank of command, lived through a revolution, civil war, and bellicose expansion of your adopted homeland into a full-fledged empire, survived the wars (including a deadly winter campaign), and been appointed the Mexas of a desert kingdom by the same IRS clerk you helped years before by bringing her to your world. You've reached the top of your career.

Now what do you do? 

As Mexas you sit in judgment of people, solving their petty problems, being regal, and having no future. So you exile yourself to a small island where you live alone, writing your memoir of interdimensional adventures, daring anyone to sail out to your island and bother you. Except for that IRS clerk, Tammy, now Queen of Aivana. She wants you to return to Earth and bring her son back. Hmm, to Earth? Where the police are still in pursuit of you because supposedly you killed a bunch of your fellow IRS employees years ago -- even though they actually slipped through the "tangent" following you and became lost on your adopted world, or they refused to give up their exciting lives there and return to Earth!

So you go, find Tammy's son Chuck jr. ("Chucker"), and reunite mother and son. Now what? Suppose there's more you can do that would fall into the category of benevolence? Perhaps there are other things you could change. You know you can come and go between the present, past, even the future, simply by altering the angle and position of the interdimensional doorway you use. So why not? Surely there are many possibilities for changing things, making the world a better place for you, your family, and everyone else. You might even prevent the big war you've already lived through! That certainly would make you a god.

Wouldn't it?

THE DREAM LAND Trilogy's Book II "Dreams of Future's Past" follows the further adventures of arch-hero Sebastian Talbot, a.k.a. Set-d'Elous, as he struggles to achieve godhood -- for better or worse -- and finally learn the lessons that the gods have kept secret for millennia: Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it! Then, of course, you might need to undo it....

Book II will be available for Kindle in June 2013.

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.