Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapter one of Forsaken sequel

I've finished the first draft of the sequel to Forsaken. It picks up where Forsaken left off. Jarrod is being called back to Australia to solve another mystery behind a signal that appears to come from outer space.
As he begins his flight back to Australia, all the old things begin to pop up -- feelings of evil, quick glances around him looking for threats.
Poor Jarrod, will he always be looking over his shoulder? And what about this new signal? Is it just another hoax? Or is this the real deal? As Jarrod dodges between threats, others around him find that they also are in danger.
Is the danger coming from Earthly conspirators, or is there a greater threat from some species who is trying to make contact with Earth?
As chapter two begins, there are no answers. Answers will come later after Jarrod navigates a mine field of deadly dangers. Jarrod begins to wonder if he will ever get it right. Will he never be able to keep himself and those he loves out of danger?
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fiction struggles to keep ahead of science

Faster than the speed of light?
New planets found orbiting a pair to twin stars?
Fish that live in dark caves have readjusted their internal clocks to a 47-hour period?
Stellar jays that can tell a good cat from a bad cat?
I subscribe to the magazine "Science News." It is a great little magazine that wraps up significant science advances or discoveries into very readable short takes. It also has one or two feature-length stories each issue. This last issue had a story on the new atomic clocks. They predict that some of the new clocks, if they had been set at the time of the big bang, would only be off by about 1 second after 8 billion years!
The magazine also covers advances in medical and biological science. Did you know they are working on a pace maker for the human heart that works on light beams? Or that stem cells from your bone marrow can rebuild heart muscle.
For those of us who try to write science fictions, the biggest challenge these days is keeping our imaginations working faster that true science. It seems that every time I think I've come up with some original idea, some scientist somewhere has already proven that idea either totally false or confirmed the basic theory and has laid out a plan to prove that theory.
Take time travel, for instance. Ever since there have been sci-fi writers, time travel has been a big issue because nothing, they said, could travel faster than time.
Guess what, a group of scientists have just reveal they have clocked a neutrino breaking the speed limit! There are still a lot of skeptics, but I don't doubt they will prove their observations. That would shatter the basis of Einstein's theories of space and time and perhaps open the door to real time travel, or the ability to travel to distant stars in less than the light years in less time than we now believe is necessary.
Wow! How cool would that be! That would simplify a lot of sci-fi plots. It's just what sci-fi writers need to craft a whole new realm of far-out stories. Writers, let your imaginations run wild.
Thanks to the all scientists that are willing to break the mold and look for the impossible.
You are making the jobs of writers much more fun.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints, it's on its way

Update on Forsaken
I submitted the "Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints," manuscript last Friday, April 15. Not sure how fast things will move now. Submission included acknowledgment page, blurb about the author and other copyright information. By the time I got the book formatted the way they wanted, it was about 215 pages. Once they do their formatting I will get a page count and a cost of the finished 5 X 8 paperback.I will keep everyone informed on the progress.

So, I've been working on the sequel. The basic outline is that the hero of Forsaken is called on again to help discover the truth behind a new signal received from the direction of Alpha Centauri, the same area the signal originated from in Forsaken. He will again run into various conspiracies and mysterious forces that are trying to either stop him or help him.

It will probably have a dual plot line, one line about my hero and his quest, and one about the aliens that are sending the signal. Building the alien plot line is going to be very interesting, and challenging. Where will they come from? Probably somewhere near Alpha Centauri. What interest do they have in Earth? Why do they want to contact the human species on Earth? How will they contact us?
What kind of religion do they have? Will it be the same, or similar to anything on Earth? A combination of all the major religions on Earth? Or will it be something totally different based on the environment in which they evolved?

All of this is going to require tons of research and lots of deep thinking. That's why, over the next few months, I'll probably throw out some ideas about alien worlds and cultures and trying to weave together something that is plausible but very alien to the Earthly experience.
Should be lots of fun. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No Heaven, No Hell. What the heck is a guy to believe in?

Update on "Forsake: Searching for God's Fingerprints"
Copy editing is done. I now have to get the manuscript formatted to meet submission guidelines, attach the before and after pages, and then send it off. That part of it should be done this week.

Now, back to the question of religion on an alien planet where the sun (or their local star, or star) does not elicit worship. No Sun Gods, no place of eternal life up there in the sky someplace. No myths created that look to the heavens for answers. On this planet, let's call it Planet X, you can't even see the stars. There are two normal stars rotating in an alternate fashion, plus there's a red dwarf, so it never really gets dark.
If intelligent species need religion, on this planet they would have to look someplace else. Perhaps they would look to the water -- there's lots of that. The planet is about two-thirds ocean and one-third land mass.
And there's lots of water coming down from the sky. The planet is warmer than our Earth and it rains a lot. There also have been cycles of global warming, and, although there are no polar ice caps on this planet because of the multiple suns, there are lots of mountains and huge mountain-top glaciers, so there have been regular fluctuations of the sea levels which have most people living a considerable way away from any coast.
The flora and fauna of this planet, given the warm climate and dense vegetation, are extremely prolific and varied. It is not uncommon for new species of plants and animals to be found regularly. The reason for this have cause great speculation, but, even though the science on this planet is much more advanced than our is on Earth at this time, there are no concrete answers for the generation of new species.
Some can be explained by natural selection, of which mutations can play a part, but not all.
So, would people on this planet worship Mother Planet, the way some cultures on Earth do? Or might they find something else on which to attach their faith?
Or, perhaps, there would be no need to have a faith-based culture, as in our religious type of faith. Maybe life is what it is, no explanations needed. Can science explain everything. Maybe on Planet X they once had a faith-based religion but after thousands of years of watching their faith betray them, they finally said, "Hey, life is what it is. Things are born, they live and they die. No reasons other that chance are needed to explain what happens to people, animals or any other living thing."
What would that do to a culture? I believe it would make it much richer in terms of resources. Look at how much blood and treasure the human species on Earth has spilled and wasted because people believed they had to defend their faith.
Maybe the Heaven on Earth some religions talk about is an Earth without religion.
Think about it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No stars? What would we believe?

So, to follow up on my first blog, if we look to the heavens to create our belief system, what would happen if we could not see the stars?
Imagine living on a planet that is always cloaked in a light cloud cover, not enough to block out the rays of the local sun, but enough that you could never really make out the distant stars.
Now imagine a planet that has two suns, each providing light during different parts of the day so that it was never dark, perhaps dim sometimes, but not inky black like we get on planet Earth.
What would we believe. First, I think, there would be a lot less fear, there would be a lot less suspicion because people could not hide in the dark to do evil deeds. Second, I think our belief system would develop entirely differently.
We probably would look for answers from other things that seemed mysterious. Perhaps that would be the oceans where we can see the surface but not under the surface. Perhaps it would be the earth, from which things grow and where we find precious gems and metals. Perhaps it would be from the clouds if they were prevalent enough and dynamic. Maybe it would be the weather if it spawned thunderstorms, tornadoes or blinding snowstorms.
So how would you build a religion from an entirely different perspective? Where do you start? Would you end up with a supreme being, or have a number of them? Would the mores of societies based on your new religion have the same mores that people on the Earth have developed such as the Golden Rule?
When we start to think of contact with species from another planet, we have to consider such possibilities. We have to prepare ourselves to consider concepts that have been developed from a completely alien environment.
Perhaps the concept of right and wrong, is wrong. What would that do to the morals of the individual? What would be their moral compass? Is goodness, and its counterpart, evil, universal, or is it set by our primary religious beliefs? Perhaps there is no right or wrong, there just IS. That would have to affect how we judge people. It would probably affect where we place blame, where we take credit, for things that impact individuals and societies.
The trouble with trying to develop such a religion and the society it might generate is that we have a hard time imagining the unimaginable. That is why I have so much respect for science fiction writers who can successfully create alien environments, such as Frank Herbert in the "Dune" series or Orson Scott Card in "Speaker for the Dead."
As I develop a sequel to "Foresaken," I have to look at who is calling for my hero and where they are calling from. Developing that story will be the most interesting and challenging writing I have tried.
It should be fun.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Are we alone?

"Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints"  A novel by Richard D. Bangs

Are we alone in the universe? It's one of the most puzzling and persistent questions the human species has ever asked.

Ever since homosapiens looked up in the sky and saw the stars and the moon, we wondered what was up there and how we were affected. Countless myths and religions have been created with an eye to the heavens.

For Christians Heaven and Hell are part of a set of beliefs that are key to the meaning of our existence. Heaven, the place of eternal happiness, the place where we all go if we are good, if we pass muster with those who judge us from above.

For many other religions and cultures, looking toward the heavens for answers is key to their belief systems. From the Egyptian pyramids to the gods of the ancient Greeks, ancient cultures felt a strong connection to the stars.

Is it any wonder, then, that in this scientifically-based culture of today we are still looking to the heavens for answers? The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and the ever increasing search for planets in other solar systems are manifestations of the human species' need to prove that we are not alone in the universe.

 What would happen if people believed that WE ARE ALONE? That our species, our intelligence, our wandering minds, were just accidents of nature  -- the haphazard accumulation of atoms that accidentally gave us life?

That is what the story "Forsaken: Searching for God's Fingerprints" is all about. The tale is set in the not-to-distant future and revolves around that fundamental question. Of course there is danger, mystery, flowering love and action all mixed in to give the story's characters a way to express themselves.

So what do I believe? Are we alone? Is our species just an accident of nature, God's master plan, or something more cosmic?

You will soon get a chance to read about some of my ideas when "Forsaken" is published. Finally preparations are being completed on the manuscript and I've already signed with a publisher.

I'll keep you posted on the progress of the book project. In the meantime, I welcome a discussion of the big question.

Thanks for reading.

Rich Bangs