Re-issued & Updated: “#Utopian #Sci-fi/ #Speculative Fiction: Why it’s Intriguing and Necessary”

My guest blog post on Tonya R. Moore‘s Sci-Fi site from July, 2014, re-issued/ updated today!

#Utopian #Sci-fi/ #Speculative Fiction: Why it’s Intriguing and Necessary

utopia3.inline vertical

image from http://www.nypl.org (New York Public Library)

Writers are often exhorted to “write the books we want to read,” especially when they seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series. I know what I want to read and what I can’t find because I am a life-long, avid reader. I have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 60 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes enjoying ten books a week. If I say that books like mine—–more utopian sci-fi/speculative fiction series like The Spanners—–don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

However, there is a long history of utopian sci-fi that spawned speculative fiction and inspired technological and biological/ medical breakthroughs/ inventions and social and political change over many centuries. Ann Grindley’s article from May, 2014, http://www.fact.co.uk/news-articles/2014/05/utopia,-limited-what-can-sci-fi-tell-us-about-our-future.aspx, “Utopia, Limited: What can sci fi tell us about our future?” offered these insights:

Civilisations that do demonstrate utopian qualities have surpassed our view on money, weaponry and material wealth and anxiety. They have matured past our inequalities and share a common goal. This goal is usually scientific, in a sense that they have discovered, created, and utilise technology which unites people globally.

I don’t know which “civilisations” Ann Grindley referred to, but I’d like to find them!

Grindley seemed to be quite supportive of my intentions when she stated: “I’d like to think utopia still requires creativity and pleasure through art, although maybe utopians won’t need escapism.”

Grindley also verbalized my heartfelt wish: “It is wonderful how even in our social and political density and under-development, that we can imagine an idyllic and model world…” But then, she recognized the possibility that “our ideas of utopian and dystopian futures are only limited to our current knowledge and understanding, and perhaps that is why, in reality, we’re yet to achieve the fantasy; the fiction in our science. Perhaps utopia is beyond our imagination as well as our means.”

Well, perhaps our imagination is not that limited! Check out these sci-fi/ speculative fiction inventions and ideas that have become “real” as researched by Annalee Newitz, from March, 2014: http://io9.com/7-utopias-that-changed-the-future-1541411068. Newitz described several utopian sci-fi books whose ideas or inventions have influenced our lives directly, including:

Communism by Karl Marx
“Marx’s powerful vision…inspired coups, union movements, and even hippie communes….Pop versions of Communism inspired many ‘soft’ revolutions in the uprisings of the 1960s,… often inspiring positive social changes and greater freedoms.”

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Herland is a lost island nation where everyone is equal, goods are plentiful, and war is unknown. It is an enlightened, scientifically advanced society where everyone is educated and healthy…[and it is all] run and populated entirely by women…. This idea, that woman leaders would create a far less cruel and authoritarian world than men have, has influenced everything from philosophy to feminist politics.”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World…[influenced] the Occupy movement, which is in part a rebellion against capitalist societies that try to distract people with happy consumerism, instead of addressing problems with the disparity between rich and poor.”

Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
“Freed from the need for money and from the horrors of war, humans in the Star Trek universe devote their lives to exploration or productive work that is freely chosen. But of course, Star Trek‘s vision is almost as old as Thomas More’s. The Enterprise is a lot like the Isle of Utopia, with elements of de Toqueville’s America, Marx’s Communism, and even Gilman’s Herland thrown in.”

Newitz summed up the utility of utopian sci-fi so perfectly: “Utopia, after all, has always been a fiction. But it’s one that can inspire us to change our worlds —sometimes, if we’re lucky, in a way that brings us just a little closer to our ideals.”

In her list, Newitz, of course, included:

Utopia by Thomas More
“Thomas More was a British writer who invented the word ‘utopia’ — from a Greek pun that means both ‘no place’ and ‘good place’ — for this book about his idea of the perfect society. Published in 1516, the book is about a man who has returned from the Isle of Utopia, where many of England’s social ills don’t exist.”

Just to prove the point—that sci-fi and speculative fiction continue to influence us—let’s go further into more specifics from this ground-breaking novel with these fascinating recognitions, from Charlie Jane Anders, “Things from Thomas More’s Utopia That Have Come True Today” http://io9.com/5967561/things-from-thomas-mores-utopia-that-have-come-true-today:

—Before getting married, you should see your partner naked.
—Divorce is allowed for a married couple who ‘do not well agree.
—You’re under constant surveillance…….there’s no private property and everybody works for the common good when they’re not farming…
—Utopians eat in public….[which] basically means they eat out. All the time.
—Criminals are marked for life.
—Euthanasia is supported and even encouraged
—Husbands and wives go to war together.

In fact, we owe the term “utopia” to Thomas More! According to: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/utopias: “…[More] derived the word from ‘outopia’ (no place) rather than ‘eutopia’ (good place)….It can be argued that all utopias are sf, in that they are exercises in hypothetical sociology and political science….[A] significant shift in utopian thought took place when writers changed from talking about a better place (eutopia) to talking about a better time (euchronia)….[U]topias ceased to be imaginary constructions with which contemporary society might be compared, and began to be speculative statements about real future possibilities…”

I agree wholeheartedly with this, and sadly agree with this opinion as well: “[Some authors set out to show that] all utopian schemes are absurd, and that real people could not live in them.”

I think this explains a lot, particularly the reasons that dystopias are so much more prevalent in sci-fi: it’s easier to write about disaster and failure than to imagine what could actually work out for the best, since we almost never see “the best” occur IRL [In Real Life].

One researcher claimed: “Genre sf has never been strongly utopian…. they were often small enclaves facing imminent destruction”

I hold out for members of this “small enclave” to become leaders and inspirations in every generation.

These and others recognize the dilemmas we utopian writers of sci-fi and speculative fiction face: “The necessity for works of fiction to be dramatic and the fact that workable plots require conflict inhibit the use of sf to display utopian schemes.” I face this problem in my current series.

Because I don’t want to depict a lot of death, destruction, violence, apocalyptic futures and heartache, many readers request and editors demand that my series “show more conflict.” I resist. I do mention it and refer to it, but most of it happens off-camera, in the wings, so to speak, or in conversations between two or more characters rather than the ways most sci-fi authors and screenwriters choose to depict conflicts.

I can’t be the only one who is bored and disgusted by dystopias’ ubiquitous conflicts—large-scale, CGI “wars” and “battles,” martial arts “fights” resplendent with wires to create impossible acrobatics, and car or other vehicle chases—awful, because they supplant character development, plot depth and actual emotions. Am I wrong?

Unfortunately, dystopian futures abound in both fantasy and sci-fi. Most genre writers, even those that include romance in their stories, choose to depict increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across their universes. In some imaginary incipient time, their “visions” of our future pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destruction even worse than we have now.

We already have too much awfulness IRL for me to want to read about even worse to come.

Enough, already!

Fortunately, I am in good company. Conferences, seminars, webinars, zines and print currently devote a lot of time/space to these topics. I am encouraged, for example, by this exhortation to writers like me from a panel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/women-remember-a-roundtable-interview/ moderated by Mary Robinette Kowal with Ursula K. Le Guin, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, and Nancy Kress, given in June, 2014, in which Kowal summed it up: “We write science fiction and imagine the future we want to live in. We want that future now.”

Kowal went on to say: “Seeing how the field has changed gives me perspective on the future that I’m living in and, hopefully, will help women writing today continue to destroy science fiction for subsequent generations of writers.”

Even more approval flows to us writers of utopian sci-fi when I saw that a July, 2014, Science-Fiction Symposium from the World Futures Society http://www.wfs.org had listed these events:

A. Panel Session: “Fiction as a Futuring Tool,” featuring Madeline Ashby, Trevor Haldenby, Glen Hiemstra, and Tom Lombardo. “The work of science fiction writers and futurists often informs, sometimes predicts, and occasionally affects the future.”

B. Panel discussion: “Hacking into Utopia: The Future of Optimistic Innovation,” featuring Ramez Naam (moderator), Gray Scott, Lindsea Wilbur, and Kevin Russell. “Science fiction writers have been talking about utopian futures for a long time. What are young writers and innovators doing right now to create such a future?”

C. Panel discussion: “What Current Science Fiction should Futurists Read?” featuring Vicki Stein (moderator) Glen Hiemstra, Brenda Cooper, Madeline Ashby, and Brad Aiken.

I wish I could have attended and I wished that they had put the discussions, above, online.

I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. I am imagining routes for improvement for the entire multiverse.

I am not alone in believing in a more perfect future that, due to simultaneous time, is already “here.” Gray Scott, Futurist/Founder of SERIOUS WONDER™, http://www.seriouswonder.com/about/ and http://www.seriouswonder.com/category/scifi/, has this tagline on his website: “The future has already happened and technology is just the echo bouncing back at humanity.“ 

His “think-tank” self-describes in this way:

SERIOUS WONDER is a progressive future concept and technology website. We are obsessed with the future. Our mission is to bring our readers the best in futuristic ideas, technology, robotics, science, techno-philosophy, psychology, space travel, and modern concept design. Intense curiosity, positive intention and inspired imagination can transform our future. This future will be more magical and abundant than anyone could ever imagine. We are constantly looking for innovation and optimistic wonder. The future is our passion.

The future IS now!

Donna Dickens listed “science-fiction becomes science-fact” from 2012:
—Quadriplegic Uses Her Mind to Control Her Robotic Arm
—Stem Cells Could Extend Human Life by Over 100 Years

And, from 2013:
—Two rats have their brains telepathically linked.
—Portable device allows users to see through walls.
—Program allows user to remotely move objects with their hands.
—The world’s first fully mind-controlled synthetic leg goes for a stroll.

If you like these “Science-Fiction-Becomes-Science-Facts” lists? Check out this great chart/ infographic:
http://io9.gizmodo.com/all-the-times-science-fiction-became-science-fact-in-on-1570282491

Here are some compelling reasons we need and want to have such optimistic creativity from writers of sci-fi:

The value of science fiction has been also recognised in the rise of a new method for designing technology, called design fiction. If science fiction stimulates the imagination about extraordinary views of the future, design fiction explores the futures that ordinary people would prefer. Design fictions—like short sci-fi films, prototypes and graphic novels—are provocative and engage people, encouraging them to envision, explain and raise questions about direction of future technology and society.

from https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/aug/13/science-fiction-reality-predicts-future-technology

Then, we have the incredible Raymond Kurzweil. I first read about him in Mike Floorwalker’s post from March, 2013: http://listverse.com/2013/03/15/10-ridiculously-specific-predictions-that-came-true/ Kurzweil is an inventor and a futurist who is also the Director of Engineering at Google. According to Floorwalker, Kurzweil has “made dozens of predictions over the several decades—–with an absolutely unbelievable rate of accuracy. Not only do Kurzweil’s predictions almost always come true, he usually can accurately predict WHEN they will come true.”

As if that’s not enough, “…[i]n his novel, The Age Of Intelligent Machines, Kurzweil predicted: the fall of the Soviet Union by 1991; a computer’s beating the best human players at chess by 2000; and, wireless Internet’s becoming practical for mainstream use in the early 21st century. In The Age Of Spiritual Machines (1999), Kurzweil predicted ebooks, facial recognition software, and nanotechnology…” among other things!

Floorwalker stunned me with these stats on Kurzweil: “Kurzweil stated that by 2009, 89 out of 108 predictions he had made were entirely correct. Of the rest, 13 were ‘essentially correct’—likely to come true within a few years. A re-evaluation in 2012 determined that Kurzweil’s prognostications are correct a ridiculous 86 percent of the time—and the good news is, this is a man who has predicted that it won’t be too long before we humans conquer death altogether.”

Kurzweil is beyond a genius: he reinforces the existence of simultaneous time. How else do you explain his timely “inventions” and uncanny “predictions”? Floorwalker informed us: “His inventions are numerous—–text reading software, speech-recognition devices—–and five of his novels have been bestsellers.”

We sci-fi writers should ALL be more like Kurzweil!

I like to believe that I am predicting, prognosticating, prophesying and foretelling, since my stories depict better times in every way. Even when things are “bad,” there is more “good” than bad. I am continuing my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series.

In my current and future multiverses, all communicative beings, including humans, will have more pervasive and lasting peace, better circumstances and conditions, and inner spiritual strengths that lead to harmonious living: we can have it all!

Indie Author Fringe’s 2nd online conference, “Fringe to BookExpo,” is Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

2017’s Indie Author Fringe 2nd of 3 online conferences, “Fringe to BookExpo,”, happens in a few weeks, on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017. Click here for more info and to register: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/what-is-indie-author-fringe/

This year’s conference “features 24-hours of self-publishing sessions for authors with an independent spirit. The agenda we’re developing will help you reach more readers and sell more books, and includes tips, tools, and techniques for marketing and promoting yourself and your book.”

I am a proud member of Alli, and this message is from one of the three organizers, Orna Ross, of Alli (the Alliance of Independent Authors)(David Penny and Jay Artale are the other two):

SPEAKERS

We’ve added more speakers and you can click here, http://selfpublishingadvice.org/bookexpo-indie-author-fringe-2017-speakers/ , to view the bios we’ve published so far.

COMPETITION

It’s free to enter our Book Cover Competition here, http://selfpublishingadvice.org/indie-author-fringe-2017-cover-competition-submission/ , and you can check out the competition entries we’ve already received [on that site as well].

Over the coming weeks, we’ll let you know about the Sponsor deals and discounts, and reveal the changes we’re implementing for this upcoming Indie Author Fringe event.

Until then, happy writing and publishing…

Next Alli Indie Author Fringe online conference: October 14, 2017.

#Indie #Author Day 2017: Saturday, October 14! Start Planning NOW!

#Indie #Author Day 2017: Saturday, October 14!

The second annual Indie Author Day will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2017. This event brings together libraries and local writers around the world for a day of celebration and inspiration devoted to indie authorship.

Registration for Indie Author Day 2017 is officially open. Visit the Indie Author Day website, https://goo.gl/6HJZG3 . to learn more information about this year’s event and how to get involved in IAD programming near you.


From the Indie Author Day website:

HOSTING AN EVENT

In addition to a selection of on-demand video workshops that will be available from Indie Author Day sponsors, there are many activities for your #library to offer as part of its Indie Author Day 2017 event.

To get you brainstorming, here are some suggested activities that #libraries have done at past events:

—An #author panel featuring traditional, hybrid and self-published #authors from the community
—Presentations from local indie authors about writing, marketing and more
—Book readings and / or signings from local authors
—Presentations from local industry leaders
—Writing workshops
—Presentations and workshops to inform the writing community about tools available for them to use through the library
—Author readings and open mics, featuring short segments of each author’s works

Check out our Brandisty page, https://brandisty.com/indieauthorday . for logos, web banners, posters and postcards to help you promote your Indie Author Day!

Alert the media with our Press Release templates for Authors and Libraries [there are downloads for each on this website].

Are you a #library hosting Indie Author Day? Spread the word with these pre-written social media post. http://indieauthorday.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Indie-Author-Day-Social-Media-Posts.pdfs [there are downloads for images, logos, more, on this website, such as the Partners’ Logo, below]!


Here are their sample posts (you can add your own hashtags and other info, such as “RT,” to these):
— Calling all #indieauthors! Join us as we celebrate our local authors for #IndieAuthorDay on Oct.
14!
— We’re hosting an event for #IndieAuthorDay on Oct. 14! Join us if want to support our local
#selfpub and #indieauthors!
— Are you an #indieauthor? We’re #indie you! Join us for #IndieAuthorDay on Oct. 14!
— We’re excited to support our local authors for #IndieAuthorDay on Oct. 14!

“Last Pass” Proofreading Already Successful!

“Last Pass” Proofreading Already Successful!

NEWLY REVISED info below…

Experienced editor, writer, grammarian and excellent speller as well as college-level writing professor now available for your document’s/manuscript’s FINAL proofreading.

Found no fewer than 14 errors and made several suggestions for two SHORT pieces (brochure, poster) from recent client who told me her current proofreader and she had BOTH already “proofread” these pieces! Last Pass is excellent…and essential!

Pay me less if your piece has fewer mistakes!

Only $0.25 per error
(one quarter, USA currency, payable via PayPal or snailmail checks).

When you’re fairly certain your other proofreaders have “done the trick,” let me have the “last pass.” If I don’t find any mistakes, you pay me only $25.00 for every 200 pages, because it usually takes me one hour/200 pages (about 40,000 words), to read through for errors. All errors marked, for evidence.

Usual no-error costs:
— $5 for short pieces, fewer than 2500 words (brochures, blurbs, posters, banners, etc.)
—$10 for short stories
—$15 for novelettes
—$25 for novellas
—$50 or more for full-length plays or novels

$2 extra, per page, with or without other errors, if you want the document to be checked for formatting and consistency in usage as well as the usual proofreading checks (punctuation, grammar, word choice, capitals, spelling and typos).

— Manuscripts must be provided in as a document in MS Word or OpenOffice Word or similar format (not epub, Scrivener, PDF). $5.00 surcharge, approximately, for editing suggestions and/or if the document does not allow for mark-up changes right on the document and I have to send each error/suggestion by typing out sentences, 1 per error/suggestion.

No developmental, story or other larger editing provided.

If I deem that the manuscript isn’t proofreader-ready, I return it/do not proofread it, charging only $10 service charge.

Quick turn-around on most jobs. I am fast, thorough, accurate and correct.

No ebook or publication final formatting provided. No book design, cover design, or blurb-writing (but will proof these, when requested).

I accept almost all genres in fiction and topics in non-fiction, EXCEPT those with graphic violence, war/military/terrorist scenes or BDSM/erotica. I do not proof graphic novels/comics or artwork.


Invoiced on 4/1/17 for the first two projects for this new “Last Pass” proofreading service!

Total, $18.50
—Invoice 1, $15.00, 41 errors/concerns, 6-page brochure, fewer than 2500 words; editing suggestions cost about $5.00 extra per document, under 2500 words.
—Invoice 2, $3.50, 14 errors/concerns, 1-page poster, fewer than 2500 words.
Not April Fools, either.
Affordable, reliable, quick turn-around, excellent eye for all types of errors.
Check me out!


Contact: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com
For more information, my blog, my books, more: http://www.sallyember.com

Reblogging: A Harvard linguist [Steven Pinker] reveals the most misused words in English

A Harvard linguist [Steven Pinker] reveals the most misused words in English
from INC., by Jessica Stillman, Inc., Dec. 17, 2015

An excellent list for writers/authors, readers, speakers, anyone who loves English and wants to use it correctly. Thanks, Jessica and Steven!

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-harvard-linguist-reveals-the-most-misused-words-in-english-2015-12

#Writing #Contest! And, USA National #Punctuation Day® is TODAY! September 24, 2016

Are you (more than slightly) OCD [Obsessive-Compulsive Disordered] about punctuation and grammar? Do you have a mental (or, like me, an actual) correcting pen ready at all times?

In a day-long Professional Development workshop (which included reviewing the state standards on English Language Arts…) last week, I spent many happy minutes disparaging and then correcting the mistakes in the presenter’s Power Point slides and the manual provided.

I found 17 errors in a three-paragraph story alone.

So fun!

Oy!

No wonder this is one of my all-time favorite non-holidays!

USA National #Punctuation Day® is TODAY! September 24, 2016,
Jeff Rubin, Founder

national-punctuation-day-announcement

Also, every year there is a CONTEST! YES! Sharpen your red pencils!

National Punctuation Day® announces 2016 writing contest

This year, for the 13th National Punctuation Day® on September 24, we salute the unsung and under-appreciated heroes of our lives — TEACHERS.

Have you had a teacher who changed your life, someone who brought into focus a subject you hadn’t previously understood, or introduced you to something that became your passion? Maybe you had a teacher who helped you develop a skill that wasn’t natural for you.

Maybe you have a teacher like that now.

Did you have a teacher who, along with the basics they he or she was supposed to be teaching, taught you that it was better to try and fail than to not try at all?

Perhaps two teachers? Three? More?

HERE’S THIS YEAR’S CONTEST: Write a thank-you note of no more than 250 words to a teacher, expressing your gratitude for having been taught how to write using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and how those skills have helped you in your student or adult life. Make it personal by identifying the teacher, subject, school, grade level, and state/country.

Entries will be accepted through October 31 at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com.

Winners in the student and adult divisions will be announced, and prizes will be awarded, in December.

PLEASE visit founder, Jeff Rubin’s, website, where he has explanations of EVERY type of punctuation WITH PHOTOS of those used in English, AND pages of info, recipes (!?) and resources, like “Punctuation Products” and “Punctuation Playtime Program”! http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/ for more information and fun stuff.

The site also has great posters/signage of excellent punctuation mistakes, videos, radio spots, schools’ participation pix, newspaper coverage of NPD (even right here in St. Louis, MO!) and much more!

Love this sign!

dianadaycare
We can only hope these “Little ‘Genius’s'” can’t read, yet.

Most unusual tribute?
Video of a Punctuation Rap Song by Dots N Dashes: https://youtu.be/4vYrws3766Q The participants make punctuation marks on the football field, as if they were a marching band. Hilarious.

Photos of bad signage and more at: http://www.NationalPunctuationDay.com

Got a photo of an incorrectly punctuated sign?
E-mail it to Jeff Rubin Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com and it will be posted on the National Punctuation Day® web site–—with a photo credit!

Here is another video:
http://wabi.tv/2012/09/24/celebrating-national-punctuation-day/

CONTACT JEFF: Jeff also does presentations and answers your punctuation questions and makes live appearances (he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California): (510) 724-9507 and Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com

Special note
— to any of the students who had/have me as a teacher who happen to have read this far: Copies of your entries and thank-you notes are appreciated, but please proofread them first! ~~~~

Or, here is what I will look like when I see YOUR errors:

win_20160822_092915

Why I #write utopian, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse #scifi/rom #novels & why you should #read & share them.

Reposted from 10/30/13 and 2/5/15

Writers are often exhorted to write the books we want to read that seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series, especially Volume I, This Changes Everything, which is now PERMAFREE, and also with subsequent volumes (Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released 6/9/14; look for Volumes III and IV in 2015).

I am an avid reader and have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 56 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes devouring ten books a week. If I say books like mine—a series like The Spanners—don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

logoAuthorsDen
All buy links, reviews, interviews, readings and more: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners Look right; scroll down.

Why am I writing #science-fiction/#romance, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse/#multiple timelines #utopian #novels besides the reason already given? And, why should you read them? Because we live in a deteriorating, or degenerating Age, according to #Tibetan Buddhists (and probably many others I’m not bothering to research right now).

When I first hear this claim, I disbelieve it. Aren’t most things “improving” for humanity? Modern medicine, technology, transportation, knowledge of all types: in the 20th and 21st centuries, we are experiencing incontrovertible advances, mind-blowing progress, right? Plus, that POV is just such a downer!

Why would the Buddha’s followers propose and then Buddhist teachers and scholars maintain such a doom-and-gloom perspective on life? It’s not enough that Buddha focused his teachings on suffering and impermanence? Most Buddhists must be depressed: that’s what I thought.

I could understand why Tibetans, having been living under horrible oppression, genocide and cultural destruction under Chinese rule for decades, would be so pessimistic. But, we’re in the good ole’ USA: things are great here, right?

Not so much. I won’t go into the facts we all know now (even more than ever, thanks to Snodwen and Manning) about how screwed up the USA has been and still is, nor how terrible the economy is here and everywhere. I won’t provide the list. We all know too well the horrors of our modern life. Modern tragedies, however, are actually not even relevant to this discussion.

The “degenerating” part of our Age has little to do with actual external conditions. Our deterioration involves humans’ not being able to learn #dharma, not being able to find qualified and worthy Buddhist teachers, not being able to practice meditation well or at all. The Buddha’s teachings and Buddhists practitioners are what are degenerating, in what is called “The Third Age” or “The Latter Day of the Law.”

You can look this up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism

My point is, dystopian futures abound. Most sci-fi writers, even those that include romance in their stories, write of increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across the Universe. They pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destructions even worse than we have now. We already have too much awfulness for me to want to read about even worse futures.

Enough, already: I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. Since I can’t find this optimism in the daily news or libraries’ and bookstores’ fiction, I decide to create it. I need this in my personal life, for the USA, for the continent, the water, air and land: I am imagining routes for improvement for the planet and the entire universe.

When I #meditate, especially during a #retreat phase in which I was #contemplating lives of beings in the “God Realm,” it occured to me repeatedly that we live in opulence amid squalor, all over the planet. Beauty smack dab in the middle of ugliness, every day. #Yin and #yang. We do have to “take the good with the bad,” but do we have to emphasize the “bad”?

I do not.

In my novels, even when things are “bad,” there is more good than bad. Buddha teaches often that we have to discern between “good” and “bad” even as we know these are illusory. Many teachings expound on how there is NO “good” or “bad,” no “birth” and no “death,” no “coming” and no “going.”

While you puzzle over that, I’m going to continue my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series. In my current and future multiverses, beings, including humans, will have love, better conditions and dharma: they/we have it all!

Furthermore, I’m going to HOPE—even though we are instructed to meditate partly in order to relinquish all hope and all fear—that YOU read my books and enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Please let me know! Write your comments here on this and other posts, on excerpts from my novel, and whatever else occurs to you. Let’s converse!