My coronary zombie apocalypse

Quivering, shuddering, it sat there, pumped full of adrenaline, longing to leap, shivering to shred, raging to rend.

It was pissed off and would have its revenge.

It had long regarded me from the dark, watching for weakness, waiting for the right moment. Predators must be patient if they are to be successful, and this one was always patient. And ready. For the attack.

From within its hiding space, it must have felt safe to regard me at its leisure. But it hungered and it raged, so attack me it did, taking a stanglehold, groping to thieve my gasp, making it its own.

To be attacked by some stranger is one thing, but to be attacked by a part of oneself seems perverse.

To be attacked by one’s heart is damnably scary.

But I am alive, I am still here. The Alfred Hospital released me this week.

And I cannot blame my heart. This miracle of evolutionary engineering has worked well enough for these past 49 years, never failing to pump blood, nutrients and metabolites around my circulatory system.

Based on an average of 75 carrump-carrumps per minute, this means that my heart generously gave me a devoted 1,957,471,500 carrump-carrumps before telling me that enough was enough.

I have failed to care for it in return. For that, I apologise most humbly to my heart. Sorry, mate, but I’ve not been your best mate at times, have I?

I have worked lengthy hours on inadequate nutrition, rest, recreation and exercise, taking it for granted that you’ll be there, ever ready to pump up the slack.

Between writing and teaching, I have long joked about my associated vampiric lifestyle, without seriously addressing the implications.

So, after they had made their five little arterial grafts (yes, I’ve had quintuple coronary bypass open heart surgery),  now I am reliably told by the cardiothoracic surgeons that a little piece of my heart tissue is now dead.

Dead. I have a partly dead heart.

So does that mean I am something of a zombie?

Evidently, there is a tiny lump of dead tissue at the pointier end of my heart muscle, slightly to the right of the front. This is the part that was starved of oxygen during my heart attack.

I am just hoping it doesn’t develop a taste for brainssss…

Wouldn’t it be so awkward if my heart started to leap through my throat, through the base of my skull, in order to satiate its hunger for m y brains?

I wonder whether it has already had a nibble or two. I do find it hard to focus sometimes…

But despite this setback, I have decided to interpret this as a sign, and indicator to reevaluate my priorities.

It will take some months to recover fully, but having the battering ram of death hammering away in one’s chest is something of a motivator.

I have learned more about the friends I have than I thought I would, and one of the things I have learned is that I have more and deeper friendships than I at first thought.

I have learned to appreciate just being. To be, to exist is of itself such a lovely thing.

I have also learned how easy it will be to die. As a writer, that is a wonderful thing.

Mostly, I have learned that, to be human, I must be humble. I must acquire more realistic expectations of myself and of the body that supports my life.

There are far too many adventures to experience in the form of stories yet to be written, friendships yet to be continued, a life to be embraced, for me to take this body and this life for granted.

I agree with JM Barrie, who in his Peter Pan wrote “I think death will be an awfully big adventure”.

But I also want to add “I think life is an awfully big adventure.”

Oddly, I thought I already appreciated that one…

Live, write and circulate with gusto,

Davidh Digman

Melbourne, Victora, Australia

PS: To all the staff at Frankston and The Alfred Hospitals, thank you for the standards of care and the professionalism. That includes the bloke at The Alfred who shaved my body, pre-surgery. I could not believe how fast and yet effective you were!

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Sometimes, the wright tool is the old tool and the old tool can help us yowl…

As a writer of science fiction and science fact, and also as a teacher of technology, I find that some expect me to use the latest gadgets and gizmos, as if I cannot wait to try the newest, shiniest pretty toys.

I have to confess that there is an element of that, but I am also very much a cynic.

That’s why, even though the ‘t’ key needs to be hammered to make it work, I still insist on using my old Nokia smartphone, complete with its outdated Symbian operating system. That’s because it doesn’t carry the malware stored inside the more popular devices

Much of the future of which I grew up reading about is here. Now. And that future is not really what was promised.

The future-that-is-here is a future in which the tricorders of Star Trek have some into being, along with the communicators. Of course, I doubt that Star Trek‘s creator, Gene Roddenberry, envisaged both being the same device.

Nor did he envisage our tools being designed with planned obsolescence, and of such poor quality and reliability. The creation of quality, reliable high-technology that is free of spyware is a scientifictional notion that may, alas, be more removed from us in space and in time than faster-than-light drive and teleportation.

But we have, I feel, become a society in which the high-tech is preferred to the low-tech. In so making that choice, we ignore the many benefits of old tech.

I pay around A$35 per annum for a subscription to an on line dictionary and thesaurus. In crafting my latest short horror story, I needed a word synonymous with howl, to describe the voices that emanate from a rather creepy coat my protagonist has bought.

My $35 per annum subscription-basis high-tech dictionary glitched twice when I interrogated it for an answer, and in spite of its good reputation, it failed to show me any options that grabbed my attention.

After thirty minutes of on line wranglings, I went to my home study, slid my trusty Roget’s Thesaurus from the bookshelf, and in less than a minute, had the options of yawl, yawp and yowl dancing in my writerly mind.

I went with yowl.

So if you are looking at doing something, and your high-tech gadgetry fails you (as it so often shall) why not reach for the low-tech?

My on line subscription will remain, as it is handy when I am out and about not to have to carry my home library with me…

But I’ve never known a paperback book to glitch, to bug nor to give me a 404 error…

Write (and tech) with gusto,

Davidh Digman

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The wrapier wraged and wraked through his flesh…

And there he was, completely entrenched in his world, his character, his scene; distracted by plot and protagonist and perspective. Until, as if out of the aethrous mists of thought or dream or horror came a most ghoulish slash. It was a rapier-like blade, crafted of unmerciful steel, wielded by an unnoticed foe, that raked and raged across him, ravaging his flesh. The sleek wedge of iron slithered and slipped through the wet, glistening trench; carving him, carving him, carving him much as some may carve a Sunday roast.

It was at that thought that he decided to take no revenge on the unseen fiend, the foul perpetrator responsible for this outrage, this crime upon his meat. Nor would he engage in blood feud, for he preferred the high road. He went to the cupboard, pulled out some toilet paper, stemmed the flow of blood gushing from his chin and resolved to never, ever again work on a story whilst shaving his bloody face…

Write (but don’t shave) with gusto,

Davidh Digman,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wramjetsetting with Ike and Art: Digman’s Eight Laws of Human-Alien Relations

With a pained heart, and an annoyingly intrusive conscience, I hereby confess and admit that I… have long coveted Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.

That’s done. The truth is now out there, published for all to see.

But Asimov’s Laws were such beautiful, shiny things, weren’t they, sitting there, waiting for him to pull them out and use them to inspire another one of his robot stories?

Arthur C Clarke, not to be outdone, contrived his own Three Laws, describing the future of science and technology. He used his Third Law (“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”) beautifully in The Sentinel, the basis for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I always felt jealous of Asimov and Clarke. I mean they got to create their own Laws! Laws, I say! They became Lawmakers! And I always wondered, why can’t I have some Laws of my own? Who were Asimov and Clarke, to lord it over the rest of us, bossy-booting us with their Brylcreem-slicked hair, obvious members of the ramjetset, as they sleekly rocketed their respective ways through the halls of science fiction history, their own private Laws giving them each a sense of smug self-satisfaction? I mean why can’t I make my own Laws? Why can’t my hair be slick? Why can’t I have my own sense of smug self-satisfaction? Why can’t I join the ramjetset? Or the warpdriveset?

Indeed, why can’t we all?

An end, an end I say, to this fascist, dictatorial Have-Laws / Have-Not-Laws dichotomy! Away, away I say to Lawmaking discrimination! If Ike and Art can luxuriate in their own private capital-ell Laws, then so can I! So there! Nyerr!

And from where, pray tell, did Ikey and Arty get the idea of creating Laws in the first place? From science, that’s where! From the sciencey part of Science Fiction! Science, that hot and sweaty pursuit of understanding that makes me all hot and sweaty and oh-so-ready to get down and… dirrrty!

Scientific Laws are relatively (ha ha) simple statements that summarise general scientific knowledge, thus helping scientists and engineers to more easily recall the principles by which the Universe appears to work.

So Sir Isaac Newton described his Three Laws of Motion. These could be renamed ‘Newton’s Three Simple Rules for Understanding Movement’ as they describe how the actions of forces upon objects influence their motion.

His Third Law of Motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is the prettily simple principle behind the rocket engine — and the reason rocket science is easy (it is rocket engineering that is the pain!)

Then we have the Four Laws of Thermodynamics (‘Four Simple Rules for Understanding the Behaviour of Energy, Heat and Entropy), Kirchhoff’s Two Laws of Circuitry (used in electrical and electronics work) and Kepler’s Three Laws of Planetary Motion (which does cover Uranus, whilst having the good taste to refrain from engaging in the sort of unimaginatively prurient puns about that heavenly body’s name some lesser hacks may inflict).

So if Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke can create their own Laws and apply them as principles supplying conflict and drama to their stories, why can’t I?

I know that on such trivialities, such mere trifles as fame, experience and writerly prolificacy I’m not a patch on either of them, but who can deny that I am somewhat prettier than Asimov and I have plusher chest hair than Clarke? It is a proven scientific fact that each one of my ear hairs has three and a half times more tensile strength and sheen than all of Asimov’s and Clarke’s ear and nose hairs combined! That and the fact that I am still alive make it possible for me to cannily pick on them while they cannot defend themselves and to catch up with them on those lesser bases… eventually.

A-ha, they weren’t expecting that now, were they? Futurists, schmuturists!

So what will my Laws be about? Hmmm…

I have long been vexed by the notion of human-alien relations.

I was vexed by the fact that Star Trek’s Vulcan Sarek and the human Amanda, could, evidently, drop their jeans and entwine their genes to make a little pointy-eared baby Spock. What is the likelihood that their mutually alien biology would be even remotely compatible?

Equally, I was vexed by how John Carter could… you know… do the same with Dejah Thoris.

Or how humans would make great fertiliser for the Martian’s red weeds in War of the Worlds or indeed how Ixtl could prey so uncharitably upon the crew of The Voyage of the Space Beagle nor even how any alien could eat a human being or have the favour returned… That was really vexing because it just seemed so, so, so… well, vexing.

To me, the chances of these things being plausible were so small, so tiny, so incredibly feeble and puny that they served as an ample excuse for my long-awaited desire to be the author of my own Laws… my own, mine, my Laws… my Laws and nobody else’s, mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Ha!

Ahem.

Now I know what I have previously written about not allowing the truth to get in the way of a good story, but I have, through the crafting of my current major work-in-progress, decided to apply certain principles to the creation of my alien life forms and intelligences.

And I think that these will make great starts to other, future stories.

Here then are my own… mine… MY OWN and NOBODY ELSE’S… Digman’s Eight Laws for Human-Alien Relations.

We’ll start with the Three Principles, then get on to the Eight Laws so derived.


 

Digman’s Three Principles of Human-Alien Relations

 The First Principle

Alien biology or physical nature is a product of alien evolution moulded by aeons of adaptation to alien environments.

The Second Principle

Alien psychology is a product of alien biology or physical nature.

The Third Principle

Alien culture and language is a product of alien psychology. Not all species will communicate sonically, and not all sonically-communicating species will employ sounds detectable by human hearing, and even fewer sonically-communicating species will employ phonemes that are articulable by human speech organs.

 

Digman’s Eight Laws of Human-Alien Relations

The First Law

Biology is but one of a range of physical natures that may form the basis of alien life. Others may include electromagnetic, neutronic and mineralogical life, amongst others.

The Second Law

Regardless of an alien’s physical nature, evolution will have been the motive force behind the development of its specialisations.

The Third Law

Alien and human biological needs are at best only partially mutually compatible.

The Fourth Law

Aliens and humans are mutually inedible.

The Fifth Law

Aliens and humans are mutually reproductively incompatible and may be, at best, only marginally sexually compatible.


 

The Sixth Law

Aliens and humans find each other’s likes and dislikes to be mutually unintelligible.

The Seventh Law

The desire to understand and make contact with others is not a desire shared by all species.

The Eighth Law

Aliens and humans find each other’s languages to be mutually non-articulable without technological enhancement.

 

Now there is an interesting consequence to all of this Lawmaking. Asimov had his Three Laws, Clarke had his Three Laws, and now Digman cunningly comes in from behind and beats their combined efforts with no less than Eight Laws! I mean, look at the math! Math never lies:

8 = 1⅓ (3 + 3)

Digman = 1⅓ (Asimov + Clarke)

Yay, I am fully thirty-three and a third percent more legislatively endowed than Asimov and Clarke combined! I am ascendant! I am triumphant! I am not overcompensating for any perceived shortcomings! I am a pretty little winner! Suck my sweetly sweaty socks, Asimov and Clarke!

Now before closing, I must say that I have allowed one exception to be made of my Laws. I have daringly violated my Fourth Law in my current work-in-progress. I have only done that in order to have fun with human body parts and show what cruelties can be done to them in new and exciting ways. Besides, since I do not follow the alien predator after its morning tea carnage I do not show whether my character disagreed with the creature’s digestion! He may very well have had an unpleasant evening, barfing up the wrong tree or something.

And I have done this because in my story, I am god, and such a god that I now have my own Laws (so there) and it doth pleaseth me to occasionally stop the truth from getting in the way of a good gore fest…

Besides, these Laws are my new tools; my beautiful, shiny, new tools, aren’t they, sitting there, waiting for me to pull them out and use them to inspire another one of my human-alien meeting stories?

Or I am free not to use them, in any given story.

As I like.

Fun, isn’t it?

Write and Legislate with gusto,

Davidh ‘Deity’ Digman,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

A wreflection on wreconnoitring

“Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art.”Harry S Truman

Writers are perverted parasites.

We work best when we can go out and perve at gawk at observe total strangers and places. That way, we can parasitise their each and every habit, recycling each habit and tic, then appropriate same for use in our stories, without attribution, and then claim creative rights over it.

Come to think of it, writers, then, are plagiarising perverted parasites, aren’t we?

But it is a good idea to reflect on how important it is for any fiction writer or poet to get out and reconnoitre the world. The world is full of story stuff, and I think it can be easy to forget the importance of observation to any artistic practice.

So many of us work so hard these days. I teach, so I need to prepare class materials, handle the needs of my learners as well as to address the requirements of my employer and those of the funding bodies that pay for it all.

Then there are all the little ‘non-essentials’ such as paying bills, preparing food, housework, family, friends, workshopping colleagues’ work, WordPress blogging, Facebook, writing, death and taxes. Oh, and sleeping is a nice add-on — I recommend that last one to everyone. I insist on at least four hours each and every day or two…

Yet no matter how busy he or she may be, the writer, just like any artist, needs to see and smell and taste and touch life if he or she is to write about it. Listening is a good idea as well.

I have come to realise that in recent times, in all my fervour and devotion to get things done (and, I must acknowledge, to recover from a broken leg and associated surgery) I have forgotten to stop and just be.

That was until a little over a week ago when I noticed the reflection of an elderly man in the mirror as I was having my hair cut and styled. He was looking at merchandise outside a shop in the corridor opposite the hairdresser’s. He held a cup of coffee in his right hand — in a take away cup with a plastic cover to reduce spillage.

From the apparent weight of the cup, it did not seem to be empty. Then I noticed how he was absentmindedly moving his hands around as he looked at the goods on display. It looked to me like he was conducting some silent orchestra, such was the vigour and drama of his movement. And he did this without spilling a single drop of coffee.

And blam, there I had it: a great little idiosyncrasy to add to one of the characters in my work-in-progress novel. It adds depth to her character and communicates exactly what I want to show about her. She concentrates deeply on what she is studying (she is a scientist) but is still mindful enough to avoid making a mess with her food or drink (a trait I dearly wish I shared, alas…)

I realised as I observed the elderly man that I need to get back to the ‘people safaris’ I once enjoyed with my late, great, best mate Ivan Keay. He, too was a writer, and we would sometimes go out together for the express purpose of observing people — and places and events — in seeming everyday, drudgery-filled life.

Artists — all artists — need to do that, no matter how much work needs to be done or how urgent are the taxes or the food prep or the housework… Or even the sleep.

How else do we parasitise life, using it as the stuff of our stories, unless we go out and stick our little probosci into to pollen flesh of our hosts specimens fellow human beings in order to suck the lifeblood out of their habits, humiliations and nervous tics?

So to all of those writers out there: why not go out on a ‘people safari’ of your own?

Go somewhere, anywhere, sit down and just quietly watch.

It doesn’t matter where it is: the local shopping centre (‘the mall’ to my American friends), the streets, the beaches or the red light districts (so we can get nice and seedy). Whatever the place, go there and people watch. It will give you many a story idea or item of characterisation and scene setting. Although be careful of those more seedy places: your observational efforts are more likely to be misinterpreted there than few other places. I mention this only on the basis of theory, because I would never ever haunt such terrible places…

Observe how people come and go. How they greet each other. How they avoid each other.

Note every nuance of facial expression and bodily posture. Observe how eyes and nostrils flare and narrow and how their voices fling around the different rhythms, cadences, tonalities and inflections to suit each situation.

Make mental notes, then, tactfully jot your observations down in a journal. A smartphone with notepad or wordprocessing functions activated make good recording media. Or you could do something wild and wacky and buy a notepad made of actual paper. Oh, and did I forget the pen? Again?

Just refrain from giving a Sir David Attenborough-style narration to your observations. That is certain to result in the observer becoming the observed.

You could get together with a small (say, two or three other) group of colleagues and observe the local wildlife yourselves. It is probably best not to gather in hordes of dozens of fellow writers when going on a ‘people safari’ lest you scare away the wildlife.

Then critique your findings together over a cappuccino or two. I suspect you may find it interesting to see how differently different writers have probably interpreted the same scene. The similarities in observations are equally interesting.

And then there is also nature — sometimes it is good to just be somewhere like a beach or forest or some ruins of an ancient fortification. Just you, your thoughts and your openness (and hopefully not the spirit of an utterly evil warlord from times gone by who is literally hell-bent on revenge and possession)…

Be there — experience the place and the solitude. That way, you may be surprised how easily it is that you find yourself to be simultaneously the wildlife and the observing pervert writer.

Write and observe with subtle do-not-spook-the-wildlife gusto,

Davidh Digman

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wruthless, wriskless wrockets wruin wreader wrevelry

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT PETER JACKSON’S THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY and SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

Can you imagine what would have happened in The Lord of the Rings had Gandalf used his giant eagle to fly Frodo to Mordor so he could drop the one ring that binds them into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom?

There is a fantastic video on YouTube that will show you just that (warning: mildly rude bits on video).

Although that video is funny, it didn’t really make an effective story. And, unless the screenwriters were willing to pad to the point of criminality, it would probably have come in at a fair bit under the trilogy’s nine hours of running time.

The reason why that would not have worked as a story is that it would have circumvented all of the conflict and drama that was made possible by the fact that Frodo and a few brave companions set out to take that journey on foot.

So Superman has his kryptonite and the Space Battleship Yamato cannot warp space too soon after firing its massive wave cannon. Speculative fiction is full of examples of characters and technologies that are flawed and limited.

Story, all story, is about conflict, and conflict cannot exist when you have a truly invulnerable, truly flawless character or technology.

What good would Superman be as a source of story if he wasn’t simultaneously weakened and strengthened by his love for Lois Lane and for people in general? What risk would he be taking when he flies off to rescue Lois from Lex Luthor’s latest Machiavellian plot? How could he be seen as a valiant defender of humanity unless there was some sort of risk involved in battling General Zod?

In crafting speculative fiction, it is so important that you place limitations upon your characters and upon their technology.

The great thing about doing that, is that one type of limitation can lead to another, creating multiple layers of conflict at various points within your story.

So maybe you have a starship that is flying to investigate why Earth has lost contact with a colony some thirty light years distant. The starship can hyperjump up to six light years at a time.

Then, let us add a limitation on the faster-than-light technology. Perhaps hyperjumping more than two-point-five light years at a time carries a risk that the ship may explode. Perhaps for that reason, spaceflight regulations require that the vessel take a one hour break to cool down and recharge the engines between each two light year jump (two, not two-and-a-half – as a safety margin).

Then we add a flawed human dimension: the Executive Officer is a by-the-book person who also wants the Captain’s job. The captain is worried: her ex-husband and daughter had just moved to that colony when the comms link went dark…

So here, the Captain wants to rescue her ex and her daughter, and must weigh up the pros and cons of defying space navigation laws, risking her career, herself and her crew to do it quickly. Her XO has reasons to both oppose her cutting corners, and also to consider letting her hang herself professionally…

Conflict, conflict, conflict… All from flawed technology being wielded by flawed people.

So when creating story – and this goes beyond spec fiction into all genres – don’t pull out your gigantic eagle or rockets with powerful guns and no limitations placed upon them.

Let your readers stress about what happens next.

Because ruthless, risklesss rockets really will ruin your readers’ revelry.

Write with wrampantly wrisky gusto,

Davidh Digman

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wrelatively speaking, the truth does not need to get in the way of your good story

“Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.” – Mark Twain

Mark Twain had it right when he made the above statement – whenever there is a conflict between story and fact, story must be allowed to reign.

So science fiction is a misleading term, as it is first and foremost a form of fiction, not science. I suppose that fiction is polite enough to allow science to have first billing, but in crafting SF, the writer sometimes needs to tell science to pipe down and let fiction be boss.

That can be hard for a science and technology junkie such as myself – and most other writers of SF. Science and technology are such incredibly sexy and seductive temptresses that it is easy to tinker in one’s mind with this device and that principle and that theory and, oh, wasn’t I writing a short story just a few seconds minutes hours ago before I started designing that spreadsheet to calculate time dilation effects for any given trip to any given star at any given speed?

So if we can see that science needs get the hell out of the way of fiction, does that mean that it never gets to have its way?

No.

It just means that if the facts (scientific and engineering principles and theories) get in the way of story, then you have to be creative enough to bend those facts to suit your story whilst being able to sleep with yourself that night – and not have to give yourself the silent treatment in the morning…

If – note that little word as it is an important one. If. If the science or engineering is in the way of the story, and if there is no way of satisfying the truth without damaging your story, then it is okay to  slap down your science or bribe it to go away and shuffle off to its room a little early on the basis of a promise that you’ll take it to the zoo or to The Royal Melbourne Show or to The Moomba Festival and fill it’s whiny little mouth with fairy floss and sugary drinks and give it rides that’ll make it puke…

I like to treat scientific accuracy as part of the stuff of story — from scientific principles, one can create an amazing SF story.

Joe Haldeman did that masterfully in his 1974 Future War novel, The Forever War.

Haldeman’s genius in crafting The Forever War was that he went so far as to hang the general thrust of his novel upon Einstein’s time dilation.

Time dilation is an artefact of travelling at speeds that are close to that of light. Space travellers flying at near-light speeds experience time much more slowly than do their friends and families back home.

Some stories seem to ignore time dilation, as if it is in the way of their story. And if it is, then I say go for it and circumvent Einstein. Don’t ignore him – circumvent him. He may not appreciate it, but Einstein’s been dead since 1955, so if you have a problem of him not talking to you anymore, then you have bigger problems than having a story that is in need of a little revision!

Unless you want to insult your highly intelligent readership, you do need to come up with an intelligent explanation that at least acknowledges the issue. That is one of the things that separates high quality SF from the dross.

Star Trek uses ‘Heisenberg compensators’ as part of the engineering behind the transporter beam technology. This is to address the effects that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (which I’ll refrain from explaining here) would have on teleportation. Star Trek never explains how the compensators work – it is sufficient from a story standpoint that they simply acknowledge the issue.

But Haldeman doesn’t dodge scientific principles – he uses time dilation as an integral part of The Forever War. His conscripted soldiers fly to distant star systems to maim and be maimed in service of an interstellar war that is driven by politics that are in a maelstrom of flux, the speed of which is accelerated by the effects of time dilation.

A trip of a few weeks ship time is twenty years, Earth time. You can imagine what happens when the soldiers come home for some R&R…

Haldeman uses the effects of time dilation in The Forever War as a powerful analogy for the estrangement combat soldiers experience upon their return from a tour of duty. Haldeman was himself a veteran of the Viet Nam War.

In my current work-in-progress, I am using principles of biological evolution to create alien intelligences with whom we can barely communicate. How do you talk to an alien when heshe (it is an hermaphrodite) normally communicates by deft movements of its ten-limbed body?

Now that makes for a difficult conversation, and would probably make interspecies communications… awkward. But it does serve to highlight that sense of estrangement and loneliness we can sometimes feel. We have found intelligent life – and we are mutually unintelligible!

In writing SF, I don’t ever pretend that my stories need to be usable as treatises on scientific and engineering principles. SF story, good SF story, is fiction first, science second.

But isn’t it nice if science and fiction can get along, wandering off into the wide, black yonder, beakerish hand in bookish hand, the one bolstering the other?

To those of you who write SF, you too can ‘do a Haldeman’ and use science as the stuff of story. To any SF artist, that can be part of the fun of creating in this genre – akin to playing with explosives or building rockets out of safety matches and tin foil…

Write with relatively thrusty gusto,

Davidh Digman

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wreally, wreally hoping you like the new interim look!

I’ve decided to give Writerly Wramblings a new look and a new breath of life.

The plans I had made to give it more a ‘Golden-Age’ look (reflecting upon the science fiction style prevalent in the 1930s to 1950s) have proven themselves a little more ambitious than I can currently fit into my life, so I’ve cobbled together this new interim look.

Sometimes computers do prove their worth – I was able to create the artwork in Celestia – it shows Saturn against the background of the constellations of Orion and Lepus at the time when the protagonist of my current novel will be born…

Software can be fun!

 

Write and create with gusto,

Davidh Digman,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

It’s about time, it’s about space, it’s about time to slap my face

Yes, I have not died. I am still around (and with the amount of time I spend in front of my PC putting learning materials together, I have certainly become rounder…) so please allow me this chance to apologise.

Those who can, do, those who teach have no time to do.

I have also had an awful lot of issues regarding my mother’s health.

So today I have decided to combine a class I am teaching (on the topic of blogging) with actually practicing what I am preaching.

Enough of the 18-19 hour work days, I am trying to be back.

Take care,

And if you want to do anything in life, including me in the face for my neglect, then please do so with gusto.

 

Davidh Digman

Loaded with mea culpas

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Nequient to fit it all in!

I doubt if there are any writers out there who will accuse me of committing the heinous crime of tortiloquy when I say that there are not enough hours in the day to be a novellist!

I’d go so far as to say I need more milliseconds in my seconds, more seconds in my minutes, more minutes in my hours as well as more hours in my days. A few extra days in each week wouldn’t go astray either!

They say that those who can, do, and those who cannot, teach. I disagree. I say, those who teach have no time to do!

So I apologise unreservedly for not updating recently. I intend to become far less nequient in getting these things done.

Promise.

I really do.

Write (and procrastinate) with gusto,

Davidh Digman,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia