Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Utopian Future Synopsis

Here's a synopsis for my #UtopianFutureNovel !  Starting to send out queries.


General Josef Faber is going stir-crazy after ten years of living on Roanoke, the first colony on Mars.  (They’ve lost contact with earth.  The last supply pod never came.)  During a war-games scrimmage, Faber kills the Magistrate, so he can abandon his post and return to earth. 

The other colonists realize it’s no accident—especially the Magistrate’s daughter Myrna.  She’s obviously furious at Faber, but he takes her along (unconscious, in suspended animation) because she’s pretty.  Faber thinks he’ll be emperor and she’ll be empress of—what he imagines to be—the new, post-Apocalyptic, desert wasteland of an earth.

When the colonists left, in 2089, a war was ramping up—looked like Axis versus Allies (the U.S. and E.U. versus China and Russia).  But it turned into a World Civil War, the poor rising up against the rich.  There is wide-scale destruction, including most modes of transportation.  All they have left are Spools: a sort of teleportation, body-sharing program, downloading / uploading consciousness, to see how the other half lives, walk a mile in their shoes…

Otherwise, the survivors are forced to—and decide to—live simply.  At first, in make-shift shelters.  Then, they build phalanxes, ghost-towns—museums you can live in—to remember history (and not repeat it).  There is a hidden phalanx, Hell, and an Egyptian mystery cult called Animus—working to replace the animals, who’ve died off (from radiation).
Faber wants to find Helios, the International Space people, to be debriefed—and demand to know why the supply pod never came…but never gets there.  It’s secluded. 

There is no central government, but Faber meets up with a remnant of the World Governing Body’s transition committee, Pierre Cardin the XIIIth and Casilda (former UN Secretary-General) in the Caribbean, New Venice.  Cardin is a philosopher—and they have a huge hybrid tree (jacaranda-mangrove) he calls the Tree of Life and Wisdom.

They offer Faber a consort, Aubrey—really a spy to keep an eye on him (and an initiate into the mystery religion, Animus).  They send him someplace he’ll be more comfortable: the Wild West.  He ends up going crazy and shooting up a Saloon—but the characters are robot simulacrum.  (So, they anticipated trouble.)

Aubrey pities Faber, but Myrna thinks they’re not taking the threat of him seriously.  Myrna turns Gummo—Faber’s right-hand-man and pilot—against Faber.  She gets Gummo to help her, and spools into Aubrey’s body, to take the law into her own hands and kill Faber—but only ends up getting Aubrey killed, when she switches back.  (Faber actually feels bad because he liked Aubrey.)

The world does seem perfect, but there’s a slight glitch.  The Boorstein Box (or “Puddle-Jumper” engine), which sped up travel-time from earth to Mars by creating little worm-holes—contracting space in front of the ship, so it’s sucked through—is causing distortions in the space-time continuum.  That’s why the supply pod never arrived on Mars.
Helios is working on a solution.  Myrna wants to steal a ship from them—maybe return to Mars, to get away from Faber, in case he takes over the world.  (Some gondoliers shuttle Myrna back-and-forth between New Venice and Helios.)

Alexander Boorstein, the inventor, used to work for Helios—and the World Governing Body—but has gone mad.  He’s a ghost of his former self from his experiments, torn between different planes of time.  He uses Faber as a puppet, promises to send him to the past—when Faber thinks things were better.  He was a famous astronaut, on top of the world and military hierarchy...  (Plus, to see his fiancĂ©e, whom Aubrey looks like—not a coincidence.)  Faber finds a few subversives who agree with him, living in the Capitol Building in D.C., a mix of former senators and hoboes.

Boorstein tells the subversives Faber will lead their revolution.  In the meantime, he gives Faber instructions to find a Boorstein Box in New Venice—and use it as half-time machine and half-weapon of mass destruction.  Faber lays waste to New Venice, kills most of its inhabitants, looking for the Boorstein Box.

A gondolier, Juan-Carlos, shuttles Myrna and Gummo to Helios.  On the way, Gummo complains that they didn’t have a back-up plan if Aubrey failed at her mission (keeping an eye on and neutralizing Faber, if he got out of hand).  Juan-Carlos, really a leader of Animus, chides them and says Aubrey didn’t fail.  She got closer to Faber than anyone.  Also, that she might still be alive—because they’re working on resurrecting animals—and a Spool, downloading / uploading consciousness, is halfway there.

Myrna gets a ship from Helios and is all set to escape back to Mars, but Gummo spools into a body in New Venice, to try and stop Faber.  He dies.  Myrna feels bad (because she used Gummo).  She spools into Gummo’s body and is close to death—when Faber finds the Boorstein Box and turns it on.  It seems like all is lost—until Aubrey returns from the dead (from a trap-door beneath the Tree of Life and Wisdom). 

Faber still pushes the button, and it goes off like a bomb—but Myrna is unharmed, inside the right radius.  Faber and Aubrey disappear into the past.

Friday, July 18, 2014

p.s. I'm running for Nevdada State Senate !

I put up a bunch of junk about that on Facebook--or I used to:

If you really want to be a pal [or a doll, whatever], you could donate to my campaign !

I think I will have to form some committee: "Friends-of-Joe."

Anyhow, in the meantime... I filled out a questionnaire the other day for the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.  (If they want to endorse me.  Probably not, because I believe in a little corporate tax -- and a little ["graduated"] minimum wage increase.)

So...out of curiosity: here are some of my views !

(I edited my answers slightly here, for clarity--and length; they had a word limit.)

Q. Would you like to see a Minimum Wage increase ?

A. Well...Sure, of course, I would love to.  (I'd like to see the _Federal_ minimum wage increased.)

_BUT_ as it is now...I'm not sure it's feasible for Nevada.  I don't want to hurt small businesses. 

I can say this from experience.  I'm really an educator, but work part-time for a small-business: ESI Security in Reno.  (They have anywhere between 300 to 400 employees.  It goes up and down.)

But I have a solution: I'd like to see a “graduated” or “gradated” minimum wage increase.  That small companies can be exempt--but larger corporations, like Wal-Mart, who can afford to pay higher wages, should.

Q. What do you think of  SJR15 ? – which, essentially, taxes the mining companies more.

A. I support it.

It's like we're living in Africa, and these are blood diamonds.  If they are becoming enriched from the state's natural resources...I don't think it's too much to ask for them to share a little with the rest of Nevadans.

Again: this is one way to get money for Education--and other things we could use.

I have one idea: think we need to re-vamp the state's water works.  That we shouldn't be watering our lawns with -- or taking showers in-- potable drinking water.  Need to be more efficient.

Q. What are your thoughts on education ?

# 1. K-12 and Higher Ed needs more money.

So... We have to get that somewhere.  I like the idea of A. some corporate tax, B. taxing the mining industries.

# 2. I like Washoe County's shift in being more career-oriented.  (Having high schools focus on things like agriculture...)

I think we need mandatory classes in creativity / problem-solving.  I say this as an educator.  (Six years teaching English at UNR and TMCC.)

It affects businesses / corporations, too.  Here's a little link--to an article, "The Creativity Crisis."

p.s.  One note: I don't like charter schools--think they steal money away from public schools.

And I’m a fan of teachers’ unions, of course.

Q. What do you think of the “Business Margin Tax” ?  (Ballot Question 3.)
Do you support it, in its current form ?

A. I wish I could write "Maybe."

I think we need some sort of corporate tax.  (The state can no longer rely on casino revenues.)

One issue I have: it might not ensure that the money would go straight to education--which I think it should do.

Q. What are your thoughts on Health Care ?

# 1. Obviously, farming out the health-care exchange to Xerox didn't work.

So--like a lot of other states: it makes sense to use the federal one.

I pray for the day when we will all have Universal Health Care, a single-payer system.  I think if you eliminated the middle-man of insurance companies, you'd save billions.

I come by that opinion honestly enough.  Went on a Mormon / LDS mission to Sweden.  They have it there, and it works fine.

But:  I think it’ll be 5 or 10 years—and will have to come top-down.  (Don’t think we can go it alone, forging ahead ourselves, like Vermont.)  In the meantime, I think we could emulate California’s system a little more.  They seem pretty efficient.

And, really--even if you're dealing with say, uninsured homeless and poor people…Most doctors themselves agree: the state would save more money in the long run, providing pre-emptive, preventative care—versus having to wait until last-ditch, death-bed care.

# 2. I think it's ridiculous, that there isn't some system of having patient histories on an "intranet"--so they can be shared from one doctor to another.


Friday, July 11, 2014


# 0.  I arrive at 3:45.  Think that should be enough time.

# 1. At first, they tell me "1 hour wait time." Then, I get status updates, and it keeps getting longer. 69, 75, 89 minutes...

I ask lady at desk why that is. "Oh. Maybe people got dropped, but they're put back in." I'm like "Ahead of me ?"

One hour later, status update: "Your wait-time is one hour."

# 2. Instead of taking a ticket, so you'll know what order you're in...Like 7, 8, 9... They use the last four digits of your telephone. So: you have no idea when your number's coming up. (Status updates, but again: not helpful.)

# 3. I leave -- b/c I have a real life, outside of the DMV. I come back a little after 5 pm: guard won't let me in. I'm like "I got here at 3:45. Kept getting bumped back.  Not my fault." He says "Can't come in, unless you get permission--like this guy." (Middle-aged man enters.) I ask: "Where can I complain ?"

# 4. I complain through text message. Then, I get message: "Come on back to DMV." I'm like: "Really ? You're giving me permission ?" It says: "Ok, we pushed back your spot in line so you can have additional time."

I rush back, like "Hooray!" I tell the guard: "They gave me permission, over the phone." It sounds like a real person is text-messaging me--but he says no. The guard--with blond goatee--is totally cold-blooded. I ask to talk to manager. Won't come out and see me. Only over radio.  (Kind of cowardly.)  I ask "Then who's been texting me ?

I haven't been this mad in a while. Really horrible customer service.

p.s. They shouldn't have shut down the one in Sparks. B/c...then the wait time wasn't so long, with two locations.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Who Could that Be at This Hour?" An Unfortunate Review.

Just read Lemony Snickett's "Who Could That be at This Hour" ? (I should be doing other stuff, but...) Lemme see if I can nail down why I don't like it:

1. Too much mysterious suspense and foreshadowing. Not enough real stuff happening now, in the present book. 2. Just his style... I get a little sick of him defining vocab. "Reticent, which in this instance means..." [and he actually gets wrong]

I remember--trying to read Unfortunate Events, and hearing him on the radio: getting sick of his fake-depressing schtick.  (Not as much in this book, but...sure, still a little.)

3. Maybe the stakes aren't high enough. (I know can't save the world every time; but all that work--of a whole book--for some stupid trinket...we probably won't find out why important until book 5 or 6.)

So, that's the critic--and professional jealousy--in me. Sometimes a little bit fun / funny / interesting... I could add: I like that the town is called "Stained-by-the-Sea" and fueled by Octopus Ink.  That's great. 

And I got sucked into it.  Wanna find out what happens in end...but, then, kind of maddening--b/c, again, with mystery vs. action--not satisfactory enough. I don't think.  Doesn't reveal enough here and now.  Ending is always: "Sorry.  Gotta wait, go read my other book--if you really wanna find out."

Like only solution: get mad or stop caring.  (Don't want to read a whole nother book, to find out what he should've told me already.) 

I guess this is kind of a rant, huh ?  Okay, I'm done.