Category Archives: Science

Philip K. Dick’s Advice for Worldbuilding Science Fiction

The book The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings features several interviews and essays by author Philip K. Dick. In the following excerpt, PKD gives some helpful advice on worldbuilding for science fiction writers.

“This world must differ from the given in at least one way, and this one way must be sufficient to give rise to events that could not occur in our society — or in any known society present or past. There must be a coherent idea involved in this dislocation; that is, the dislocation must be a conceptual one, not merely a trivial or a bizarre one — this is the essence of science fiction, the conceptual dislocation within the society so that as a result a new society is generated in the author’s mind, transferred to paper, and from paper it occurs as a convulsive shock in the reader’s mind, the shock of dysrecognition. He knows that it is not his actual world that he is reading about.”

Philip K. Dick on worldbuilding a science fiction story
Continue reading

Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2021

Note: The books from this list that aren’t available online for free are available for purchase through my Bookshop.org page.

1) Human Action: A Treatise On Economics by Ludwig von Mises (1940)

This is the bible of Austrian economics by the grandfather of Austrian economics, Ludwig von Mises. Human Action is Mises’ magnum opus on economics, philosophy, and history—or more precisely, it’s about what Mises terms “praxeology”: the study of human action, which all economic activity boils down to. This is a long book (it took me half the year to get through, which is why there are fewer honorable mentions this year) but it was worth it. You will better understand the world today by reading this 82-year-old tome than by reading today’s newspapers.

Continue reading

What is Science?

Do you believe in science, or do you not believe in science? Hopefully neither, because science is not a belief system. Science is not something you believe or don’t believe in. Neither is science a monolith. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.” Science is description, not prescription. Science does not tell you what to do—it gives you data.

Continue reading

Use Visualization to Write Fiction Like Tesla

Most of my toughest problems writing fiction come from hitting a wall midway through the first draft when I realize I must alter the narrative in some dramatic way, requiring massive rewrites of what I’d written so far. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it is demoralizing—especially for longer projects like novels. I dread going back to do that rewriting work because it is difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Fixing what I wrote before often takes longer than it took to write in the first place.

Continue reading

Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2020

According to my Goodreads stats (which I use to track every book I read), I read 95 books in 2020, which is down slightly from last year (114). Though that includes comic books, which are shorter and quicker to read, plus audiobooks, and I read less comics, so more full-books in all. My increased reading was not due to being stuck at home during quarantine as that didn’t affect my lifestyle much—it’s primarily because I severely cut down on reading Twitter and other online news. I previously wrote about the futility of following the daily news closely, but I still clung to Twitter—a little too much—sometimes a lot too much. I will expand upon how I broke my Twitter addiction in a future post, but suffice it to say, these days I check Twitter just once a day (at night after getting my work done) for only a couple minutes—if at all. This immediately reduced my stress levels and gave me much more time to read more valuable things that will stand the test of time, such as the following books.

Continue reading

Schrödinger’s Santa: A Quantum Christmas Poem

Quantum mechanics has proven that, contrary to human intuition,
matter exists in multiple states at one time, known as superposition.

Santa can simultaneously be in your chimney and at the North Pole.
Until it’s looked in, your stocking contains both merry presents and humbug coal.

The same sleigh of reindeer fly through the sky while sleeping on ice.
This past year, you’ve been equal parts naughty and equal parts nice.

On Christmas morning, when you check under your green tree,
the wave function collapses—an observer you’ll be.

The elves’ algorithm determines on which list you fall,
then you’ll find the gifts you have wished for…or nothing at all.

Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2019

nonfiction2019

1. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil (1998)

Kurzweil is an inventor and futurist famous for his optimistic predictions for technology in the future, particularly the idea of the singularity—when humans will be able to upload their minds to computers and potentially live forever—which he predicts will happen by the year 2045. Kurzweil has his doubters, but it’s hard to dismiss his track record of predictions when you look at how many have already come true in this book written over thirty years ago. Continue reading

Science Fiction Books vs. Movies

bladerunner-book-movie

It’s ironic that I write science fiction books as an adult considering I didn’t even read science fiction books as a child. Actually, I didn’t read any books at all, other than those assigned in school—which, aside from Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, were never science fiction. I loved sci-fi movies as a child and was captivated by space exploration and future technology, but I struggled with books about those same topics. It wasn’t until later in life, post-college, that I really started to enjoy reading (books in general and science fiction in particular). Continue reading

The Power of Science Fiction

future-city2

There are essentially two types of science fiction: hard and soft. Soft science fiction is more like fantasy, not obeying the laws of physics (Star Wars) while hard science fiction aims to be scientifically accurate (2001: A Space Odyssey). I love Star Wars, but my real favorite genre is near-future hard science fiction such as Blade RunnerInterstellar, The Martian, Ex Machina, and Her. I think those kinds of stories—built around accurate science and technological innovations that can conceivably happen in the near future—are perhaps the most important form of fiction. Continue reading