…But Then, Why Not Mars?

I just read …But Then, Why Mars Really? by T.E. Mark. I have to say I didn’t see this one coming. Ever seen the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? It is kinda like that. It runs on the premise that the universe is made up of high-tech idiots. Which makes it hilarious.

First thing I noticed was that Mark is English. Like English English. I didn’t know or care really were he was from but figured it out quick. American English has a bit of a different sentence structure and some words like colour are spelled different.

The book’s man character is a book store owner who migrates to Mars after he is found undesirable enough to be kicked off the planet Earth. He then gets a job changing literature aimed at immigration, as we find out that other planets don’t want these people either. A problem through out the galaxy is out of control immigration, putting stresses on the economy and the indigenous population.

Meant mostly for young adults, I would recommend this book if you want to laugh your ass off as an idiot is employed by an idiot, then captured by idiots, then allowed to run amok on politics with a powerful computer installed by an idiot.

With few swear words but a lot of them taking the name of their god in vain, this book is a bit of science fiction and fantasy. It ignores scientific fact like the freezing temperatures in space (mostly), runs off the same lies told back in the days of the “new world”, breaks the bounds of the third (or is it fourth?) wall and is a riot right up to its whimsical end with characters not knowing if it is real life, a movie or a book.

Mark even makes lists interesting. That’s not easy to do.

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Inventing Iron Man

Alright you nerds.

I would like to talk about another book from E. Paul Zehr. Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine continues on from Becoming Batman.

Once again, the book is not written to answer many of the logistical questions that may arise when discussing a superhero. It is mostly about the affects the human body. This was also a good read but will hold little value to those who wish they would skip to the part were somebody gets the crap beat out of them.

For those of us that like cyborgs, like yours truly, the book opens up new knowledge on the nervous system and how it can, or cannot, work with an outside attachment, like a prosthetic arm or suit of armor.

For instance, the book introduced me to neural plasticity, or the fact that nerves can adapt “to changes in the body” (90) and the nerves can and will grow at a rate of 1 mm per day to restore feeling in damaged areas (97). I was always told that nerves, once damaged, never repaired themselves.

The book talks a great deal about cyborgs, and I learned that prosthetic limbs are as old as ancient Egypt, but what I would call the first cyborg would be the case of the German Knight Götz von Berlichingen around AD 1500. After loosing a hand in battle he had another made out of iron that could hold a pen or a sword. He was then known as The Iron Knight (27). Who cool is that, cyborg friends?

Also, according to Zehr, the first superhero written in popular culture was a cyborg. The book is called The Assassination of the Nyctalope. It was published in 1933 by Frenchman Jean de la Hire (5). Several of de la Hire’s books are on Amazon for you to check out.

Of course the book goes through all the training, effects on the body. In movies and comics, there isn’t time for real life to set in. If we wanted that, all we have to do is look away. In the movie, Iron Man, Tony Stark invents the suit and just flies away, concussions be damned. We all know that wouldn’t happen.

Stark would need 10 years of flight training, another five years of combat training, then would finally prefect being Iron Man at about the age of 60, ten years after Batman would need to hang up the cape and cowl for health reasons (178,165).

In concussion, this book has a lot to teach for those interested in how heroes work in real life. It helped me go in a new direction for my work by learning new things. Some one told me once, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Now I know why he said that because of the new things I learned and the effect it will have on my work. It will be better.

The Possibility of Batman

Yes, I like Batman. bat

It would be hard pressed to find someone who hates him. Not that I have not cried bullshit in my Bat-mania. I have failed to understand how Bruce Wayne could dig out and fit the Batcave, build and maintain the Batmobile, Batcopter, Batboat, Batsauna, Batbar…wait, I lost my place…hunt down and beat up bad guys, run a multinational company and get enough sleep to insure that he keeps from drooling on himself while taking out supermodels.batm

I know how long it takes to fix simple things on un-custom cars, it can be time consuming. Don’t tell me that Alfred does it all while making dinner and dusting a mansion and whatnot.

I was hoping the book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero by E. Paul Zehr would answer these questions. Well, it didn’t. It added to my doubts that a Batman like hero could exist.

The book discusses little on the logistics of being Batman. Instead, it focuses on the physical aspects of becoming, being and staying Batman, and its effects on the human body.

Not that it wasn’t interesting and insightful, but would be a bit boring to those that have little interest in the workings of the human body and just like to watch The Dark Knight beat the ever loving crap out of someone.

Like I said, the book deals with the human body and how changes affect it. While a bit of background is not necessary because the book explains all that, having some is not a bad idea. Zehr discusses everything from Batbones, Batmuscles to Bathoromones.

CbIt works well with a book I reviewed in a previous post, The Concise Human Body Book by Steve Parker, Becoming Batman takes an in-depth look at the human body. These two work well together, the first being more focused on what happens inside while being Batman.

A concept that was introduced to me by the book is of Batman’s popularity, and why.

“At a very early age, each and every one of us realized that we probably were not born on Krypton, we were unlikely to get bitten by a radioactive spider, and we were not the spawn of mud touched by the gods. We knew, however, that if given the proper motivations, we could become Batman” (Zehr 11).

We, as humans, could be Batman. Maybe some of us could, but not all. Take ambition right out of the equation, like the book almost does. Properly motivated, sure, most of us could become the best that one particular individual could be. Most of us are not willing to give up video games, sitcoms, salt and vinegar potato chips and twelve ounce curls.

Jeff Foxworthy once said, “You don’t mix pond scum and raw sewage and get Avion.” Genetics is one reason why many of us would never be Batman. One experiment took two sets of rats and “selectively” bread them. In eleven generations, there was a 350% difference in the two sets. Genetics plays a large role in how tall, fast, strong and most importantly, how smart you can be. Lucky for me I am smart, since I am all of five eight. I would not be invoking terror in the hearts of the wicked on sight.

If anything, it just conformed my doubts that a Batman-esk person could prowl the night, even if Bat’s humanity makes him relatable as a superhero.

I will take a moment to discuss Batman’s training. In The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight, Scott Beatty said Batman studied 127 different martial arts (Zehr 123).

Zehr goes on to say that this would make a sloppy mess of Batman parts. It would be better to study one form, maybe three at the most. Take an example from my life. I can fix cars, weld, do carpentry, plumbing, electrical while writing novels.

But there is always something wrong somewhere. Nothing ever shines. I know a lot, but never perfected one thing. Applying that to the fighting arts, it makes for a bad fighter. Bats would fall quickly. That adds to my argument, and shows the depth the book goes into.

BM2Amazing to think it, but Batman was created almost 100 years ago. Even if touched upon in “Batman Beyond,” I believe that few think about Bats shelf life, and how long he could keep it up. Once the near impossible is reached, it wouldn’t be long before it seeps away, either due to age or damage like concussions and broken bones. Even the lifestyle of Batman would decrease his effectiveness. Being on stake out is lost training time and will result in a weakening in him.

This was a good read, even if it didn’t answer many of my original questions. It did confirm my thoughts that being Batman was next to impossible because of the toll it would take on the body. But like you, I will enjoy watching him beat the tar out bad guys.

Links to the books are below.

https://www.amazon.com/Concise-Human-Body-Book/dp/140534041X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520785175&sr=8-1&keywords=the+concise+human+body+book

Knowledge

Knowledge

They will never know

what is ignorant to me

They will never develop

if I have no growth

They will never find life and love

unless I give it to them

They will never find adversity or pain

but for what I provide

They will never see sun rise or set for them

until I give it permission.

All that they are

Will ever be

Comes and ends with my grace.

They are nothing without me.

I am even less without them.

03/9/18 SCNY

Lowe: The Now Unnumbered Chapter

I have a prosess…no that ani’t right. Delete delete delete, process. Or lack of therefore. I just finished a chapter and now I need to meld it into the main body of the story of the next book in the Lowe Series. Woo hoo! Makes me happy anyway to get some writing done.

Some important dates to remember; Project 49 will be at three shows.

Heroes and Villains Con: April 7, Cortland NY

https://www.facebook.com/cortlandheroesandvillains/

Buffalo Comicon: April 15, Buffalo NY http://www.buffalocomicon.com/

Nickel City Con: May 18-20 Buffalo NY http://www.nickelcitycon.com/

Feel free to Cosplay any of my characters, I would like to see that action. Be looking for more shows cause we are. If you know about one you want us at tell us!

The Next Book

After an eight hour shift, and before that taking care of a load of BS like paying bills and making phone calls to peps with automated systems, I finished a battle for then next book, Lowe: Williamson’s Legacy.

For that part, I need to finish the aftermath and meld it into what I have already but that is another day.

Isaac Asimov’s “Sally” and Disney’s Cars

This paper will assume that you don’t live under a rock and you know what Disney/Pixar’s Cars is. Okay?

510PdZHtqSL._AC_US218_Being a writer of science fiction, it may be thought strange that I finally got around to reading some. Mostly I read Stephen King, Terry Brooks and anything I found at yard sales. Now I can add Isaac Asimov to the lists of things I have read. A link to his works will appear at the bottom of the post.

All the nerd stuff is there, like space travel and four legged aliens that would die in an oxygen atmosphere. But I found Asimov to be quaint, if not antiquated in his technology. Don’t get me wrong, even if I do not see the polished nature that I find in works from Edger Allen Poe, his plots are good.

As a writer of long and short fiction, I see both sides to the coin, that short fiction can be polished to a shine. In long fiction there is no time for that.

As I read the book, I did keep waiting for the technology to get smaller and there is not a hard mention of that until page 522, were he predicts computers being put in cars for autonomic driving. That is something that is just coming around. As we all know, computers were massive in the 1950s.

But I wish to talk about a story that comes before that on pages 500-14 called “Sally,” and how the world of Disney/Pixar’s Cars has to do with Isaac Asimov.

In “Sally,” there is a Farm with two human caretakers and fifty one sentient cars that are in a state of pampered retirement. They are never shut off, always having gasoline.

That is another thing. As a mechanic myself, I have a pet peeve about calling an engine a motor. The fact that the cars use gasoline and oil is on page 503 and mentioned a few other times but the word motor is used over and over. I will say it one more time, so pay attention. An engine makes mechanical energy from chemical energy, a motor makes mechanical energy from electrical energy. Unless these cars are hybrid, which is not stated, it just looks bad to me.

The motors are also stated to be “positronic motors” (507). Most would know this word from Star Trek’s Data, whom has a positronic brain. It is his CPU, his processor. Gasoline engines themselves process squat besides ground up corn or dead dinosaur bits. In an engine, the brain is called the ECM, or electronic control module. Separate from the engine and something he missed.

While predicting the coming of self driving cars, Asimov assumed and missed on a big part of our culture. He thought that self drive cars would be too expensive for the average joe to afford, which we now know to be false.

“We take it for granted now, but I remember when the first laws came out forcing the old machines off the highways and limiting travel to automatics…They called it everything from communism to fascism, but emptied the highways and stopped the killing…The industry specialized in turning out omni-bus-automatics. You could always call a company and have one stop at your door in a matter of minutes and take you where you wanted to go. Usually, you had to drive with others who were going your way, but what’s wrong with that?” (502).

It turns out a lot. Many of us will take a bus. More of us just plain won’t. It is a symbol of American freedom and ingrained into our ideals of society. No politician will attempt to talk personal transport away because they will be shot.

In the story the cars can hear (509) and have rudimentary communication skills, like blowing their horns, revving engines and opening doors. Disney gives their cars horns and revving engines to communicate, but also a spoken language. Asimov’s have a subtler form of communication that their caretaker, Jacob Folkers, even misses at first. The cars idle roughly to talk and he changes their gasoline thinking it is a problem (501). He has no idea it is how they express complex thought until page 514, after the cars deal with a threat.

A man named Raymond J. Gellhorn wishes to pull the (sorry) motors out of the cars and put them into new bodies. We find that Gellhorn has already done this by putting a motor into a bus. But Gellhorn is a hack and does it poorly.

“Even if it is a stolen motor, you had no right to treat it so. I wouldn’t treat it so. Solder, tape and pinch clamps. It’s brutal! Sure it works, but it must be hell for the bus. You could live with migraine headaches and acute arthritis, but it wouldn’t be much of a life. This car is suffering” (511).

That would go to state the cars can feel pain, like Disney’s. We know from the story that they have enough emotion to growl and shy back like a dog (505) and to chase after Gellhorn to save Folkers. The car Sally, even “Slowly-lovingly you might say-her front door opened” (513) to let Folkers ride in her.

It that story it is a big deal. Sally had not had a rider in five years before Gellhorn, I would use the term “violated her” by shutting her motor off then driving her (506). Riding inside a Disney car would seem impossible and a violation if accomplished.

Disney’s cars develop loving relationships, and we know from Cars 2, they can kill without a problem. The character Finn McMissile, a British secret agent causes havoc on an oil well, causing the death of many cars. Not to mention the alternative fuel that Sir Miles Axilrod uses to blow cars up after a special beam is pointed at it. Gellhorn is found dead, killed by the bus that he built. We now know cars from both worlds can kill.

This is when Falkers realizes that the cars talk to each other and other vehicles that come to the Farm. He begins to fear them, think that a lack of humans means never being turned off, the equivalent of being free.

“There are millions of automatoblies (the way he spelled it so don’t look at me) on Earth, tens of millions. If the thought gets rooted in them that they are slaves; that they should do something about it… And they’ll have to keep a few of us to take care of them, won’t they? They wouldn’t kill us all (514).

Even if there are no humans in the Disney world, things look a bit to similar. Albeit car themed, human influence is not hard to see. The road structure is there, along with race tracks, truck stops and everything else that would need to just up and run. When Lighting McQueen gets gas to go play with Sally, the gas nozzle just comes out. They used attachments and foot pedals to perform other complex operations.

MCQFrom the character Sarge, a green military Jeep, and British armed forces in Cars 2, we know they have a military. The cars would only come about after the extinction of humans, thus winning the sentient cars their freedom to never be turned off or used against their will, like the bus or Sally. And to go racing.

I will take a moment to talk about a predecessor to cars. Disney put out an animated short in 1952 called “Susie The Little Blue Coupe.” Susie had a mouth and eyes like the cars in the Cars universe, plus she displayed emotions in about the same ways. The short is on-line if you would like to see it and loosely based on the book, Boy, Girl, Car by Gordon Buford. If you can find any information about that book, good for you cause I found nothing.

Asimov’s “Sally” came out in 1953. I would not say that one could not have influenced the other much, and I will not say that Asimov’s story had a great deal of influence on Cars.

sallyI did not miss the fact that McQueen’s girlfriend is named Sally, like the car in Asimov’s story. I wish I could find another connection, but Sally is a convertible, not a Porsche, and her color is not mentioned.

But in the tradition of Skynet, it puts a dark spin on the world of Cars, that a machine we created destroyed us then began to develop without us.

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_5_25?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=isaac+asimov+the+complete+stories%2C+vol.+1&sprefix=isaac+asimov+The+complete%2Caps%2C177&crid=2I6A5P8MI5S0S&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aisaac+asimov+the+complete+stories%5Cc+vol.+1

And speaking of dark stuff, don’t forget to check out Project 49, also on Amazon. If you buy the book I will stop bitching, I promise.