science fiction

Fun With Acronyms

One of the fun(?) aspects of spinning up a new series is giving new names to things. I have found myself in need of an acronym this morning. Without disclosing the purpose of the entity behind the acronym, so far I have such candidates as:

- HUG
- HARD
- CHUMP
- MUSE (I actually like this one 😉)
- CHUG
- LEAP
- LAME
- HUMID
- HALP

...I'm not sure I remember how to do this right.🤔

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Originally posted on Facebook.

Website Redesign FTW

The website got a minor (visual) and fairly major (structural) redesign this week. If poking around webpages, menus and links is your idea of fun - or if you just want to check it out 😁 - feel free to look around and let me know if anything is broken or wonky: https://www.gsjennsen.com.

Visually, the redesign is not as dramatic as the one I did 2 years ago. But it should be (a) easier to navigate, with clear pointers to important information, (b) less overwhelming for newcomers, and (c) perhaps most importantly, look great on mobile devices. Hopefully, all those things are true. 😋

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Originally posted on Facebook.

Is Our Universe Too Vast For Even the Most Imaginative Sci-Fi?

Thoughts? Agree, or disagree?

Of course even wild science fiction tends to be (though not always) distinctly human in character. No matter how far into the universe we one day reach, we'll still see it from a human perspective. Also, getting outside a "human" head and imagining the viewpoint of a truly *alien* alien is no easy feat. Hopefully I've accomplished it once or twice.😌

It's also true that the vast, mind-boggling distances involved are humbling. Even the 40 galaxies of the Anaden Empire, even the 16 million light-years distance to the Asterions' Gennisi Galaxy, are just a teeny tiny neighborhood of the universe. I keep going bigger, but the universe continues to stretch for what feels like infinity.

https://aeon.co/ideas/our-universe-is-too-vast-for-even-the-most-imaginative-sci-fi

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Originally posted on Facebook.

Heaven Is A Place On Earth

…and it’s called the Tattered Cover Bookstore

By sheer coincidence, Patricia Briggs was giving a talk and reading while we were there. About 60 people were crammed into the lower-level meeting space. #MrJennsen whispered sweet nothings in my ear about how that would be me at the podium one day 😉; I pshaw'ed him, went upstairs and bought some sci-fi books with beautiful covers.⠀

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Originally posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Avengers: Endgame (No Spoilers)

4.5 of 5 Glorious Stars 🌟

The half-star deduction is entirely on the first 1.5 hours, which honestly could have been cut to an hour without losing anything. The second 1.5 hours, though? OMG. 😲 Damn near perfection.

If you are remotely, even casually, invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, see this movie. 🤗

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Originally posted on Facebook.

A Geek's Guide to THE STARS LIKE GODS

I give you: A Geek's Guide To THE STARS LIKE GODS.🤓

The usual caveats: scenes are not necessarily chapters, the order may (but probably won't) change before release, etc.

For those of you who like to print these out, I’m providing a non-toner-depleting black and white version below as well.

Cover reveal and release date announcement coming next week!🤗

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Originally posted on Facebook and Instagram.

The Quest for the Most Elusive Material in Physics

"The Quest for the Most Elusive Material in Physics" - you mean the Rasu?

It shouldn't be a huge spoiler to say that in TSLG, our Asterion friends expend some time and effort trying to decipher exactly what the Rasu *ARE*. While, don't worry, I don't go into this level of science-gasm detail, in my head I imagine that some of the experiments they run look a little like these. 😎

https://gizmodo.com/the-quest-for-the-most-elusive-material-in-physics-1833846121

 
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Originally posted on Facebook.

Artificial

Tigaer-Design (Christian Hecker) is one of the finest artists creating spacescapes and futuristic art today. This piece in particular, "Artificial," served as partial inspiration for the design of the anarchs' Post Epsilon base on Palaemon, which figured prominently in the events of Rubicon and the first half of Requiem.

You know, the post with the floating landing pads, the scene of Alex and Kennedy's first Caeles Prism test and one bar fight. 😝

You can see all his work on Art Station (https://www.artstation.com/tigaer) or Deviant Art (https://www.deviantart.com/tigaer)

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Originally posted on Facebook.

A Birthday Present

On my Birthday, I’m giving all of you a present: a fun little excerpt from THE STARS LIKE GODS, the upcoming conclusion to the Asterion Noir trilogy.

✨✨

The suite two-thirds of the way up Namino Tower couldn’t fairly be categorized as isolated or neglected, which were the first two words Cameron had used to describe her destination. The lights were bright and the view out the window in the lobby pleasant.

The furniture did have the veneer of mass production, as though it had been plucked from beneath a store sign reading, ‘Buy Office Furniture Here.’ Silence hovered in the air amid a hint of staleness; it marked a stark departure from the constant bustling activity and noise of the Pavilion, and she wondered when voices had last animated the lobby.

A dyne stood behind the counter, its frame locked so rigidly she assumed it was shut down. But as she approached, it lifted its head with a squeaky flexing of its joints. “How can I help you?”

“Nika Kirumase. I’m here to see Lance Palmer.”

“He is expecting you. You may enter.”

A door across the way opened, and after taking a last dubious glance around the lobby, she walked through it.

A man lounged behind a desk. Despite the presence of at least a dozen panes arrayed above the desk, he’d kicked back his chair, wound his hands behind his head and crossed his ankles atop the desk. Tawny hair fell neatly across his forehead above sage eyes. Rolled-up sleeves exposed tanned, muscular arms. Tactical pants led to scuffed and faded combat boots, which looked rather out of place atop the office desk.

One corner of his mouth twitched into an almost-smirk. “Nika Kirumase. I figured you’d come calling eventually. Frankly, I thought it would be more sooner and not so much later.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Well, I was a little busy being psyche-wiped, leading a rebellion, fleeing from government-funded assassins and exposing a Guide-led conspiracy to conceal the existence of a deadly alien species taking over the galaxy. You know, the usual.”

 
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Originally posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Mountain Drives & Plotting

Two 3.5 hour drives in two days when you're the passenger is a *great* opportunity for some heavy-duty story planning....😈⁣
#whatcomesnext #amplotting

For those keeping track, yes, this is the same notebook that was featured in the blog post, "Cross-country Journeys, Chicken Scratch & Bossy Characters." It seemed appropriate. 😁⁣

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Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook.

Amazon Books Excursion

A real bookstore this time, not that silly "4 star" nonsense!

...and still, I was disappointed. 😒 The store was maybe 1/3 the size of a typical B&N. While they did some cool things with their front displays ("Unputdownable: Kindle readers finish these books in 3 days or less" and so on), the overall book distribution was 2/3 nonfiction to 1/3 fiction - and nearly all the fiction was lit fic. The only genre fiction in the store were current bestsellers that either trend toward lit fic or have otherwise garnered critical attention (such as Black Leopard, Red Wolf), or recognized classics (such as Dune).

In part, it could have simply been catering to its customers, as any retail store should. Cherry Creek is an extremely upscale neighborhood, and I'd believe that its denizens would never demean themselves by being caught reading *genre* fiction. 😱

Still, disappointed. Amazon is flubbing a great market opportunity here. Readers LOVE bookstores, and we're desperate for great ones we can lose ourselves in. This isn't one.

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Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook.

Living Near A Supermassive Black Hole

Like in Interstellar!

“Before addressing the many health hazards for life near a black hole, we should consider the benefits. If civilizations form in, or migrate to, the vicinity of black holes, what could they do for fun and profit?” 😉 https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/living-near-a-supermassive-black-hole/

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Originally posted on Twitter.

Anthem Review

I did an extensive review for Mass Effect Andromeda after finishing it, so I figure I owe you one after finishing the critical path storyline for Anthem. Spoiler-free!

The very, very good: 💯

1) Flying is FUN.💫 Combat is FUN. Not having played Titanfall or its ilk, I'll refrain from saying it's unique, but there's no question that with the javelins Bioware has created something ⭐️very special⭐️. I can't overstate how smooth and exhilarating it feels to soar through Bastion's canyons and blow up enemies.

2) The world is drop-dead gorgeous. State-of-the-art graphics, incredible lighting and what feels like a lot of attention to detail combine to make Bastion's wilds the most beautiful environment I've ever seen in a video game. (One slight negative: it isn't, however, particularly varied, at least not yet. But you don't care, because what's there is simply stunning.)

3) The voice acting in the critical path questline is among the best I've ever heard in a game. Bioware has always excelled in this area, but they've somehow managed to up their game here. Faye, Haluk, Owen, Tassyn, Dax and the rest quickly become memorable, impactful characters thanks to their VAs. I can't speak about the male freelancer, but the female freelance voice is also excellent. I'm not sure how well the VA would do with a "heftier" role like Shepard, but here she's quite pleasant to listen to.

4) Bioware has FINALLY cracked the secret code on how to make characters look good using the much-maligned Frostbite engine. NPCs are varied and diverse in their appearances, but they all look great. So much less shininess and puffiness than in DAI and MEA! One of the major characters in the main quest, Tassyn, is frankly gorgeous (even if she is a bit of a bitch). Facial animations are also much improved from MEA, if not quite up to AC: Odyssey standards. I've read Bioware used a lot more motion capture for Anthem than they have previously, which likely explains this improvement.

The not so great: 😏

1) WHY OH WHY did Bioware choose a first-person perspective for Fort Tarsis (and a Javelin-only third-person perspective for outside) when they've FINALLY cracked the secret code on how to make characters look good??? In character creation, you choose male or female, then from one of a dozen or so fixed portraits. After that, you only see your character's face during a few *meaningful* mission cutscenes, when they flip their visor up. You never see their hair or see them out of a javelin. Such a waste!

2A) The critical path questline is far too short. Granted, this will almost certainly be expanded upon in the future (apparently for free, which will be nice). While a compelling story, it's not nearly long or fulsome enough to serve as the backbone of a game. Of course, Anthem is about much more than that questline, so arguably it doesn't need to be.

2B) And it's too shallow. If not for the stellar voice acting and the innate storytelling finesse Bioware has always displayed, it would have been very difficult to feel the slightest bit invested in your character's 'backstory' or the current plight they and the world find themselves facing.

The bad: 😖

1) The missions are worryingly repetitive in their technical design. There's only about 3 basic mechanics the missions rotate between, and I worry that the repetition will soon drown out the inherent fun in the gameplay.

2) The gear/weapons/skills system is simultaneously overly complicated and overly shallow. This is something else I'm sure will be dramatically expanded and refined with time, but at release, it leaves a lot to be desired.

3) Fort Tarsis is much smaller than I was expecting. I have to believe they cut large swaths of it to make an EA-mandated release date. What's there is charming and quirky, but there's not much there.

4) Way too many and too long loading screens. This is something Bioware has been frantically working on improving, and there was a BIG improvement from the demo to release. They're still too long and happen way too frequently.

5) Co-op needs text chat! (And possibly voice chat, but at least text chat.) Several missions include puzzles, and you can imagine how much fun it is to have 4 players who can't communicate with each other running around randomly spinning obelisks and lights and such all at the same time, frequently at cross-purposes.

So will I keep playing? Yes, but until there's a substantive (read: story-heavy) update, only casually. Like I said, it's FUN. But having completed the only significant questline, it's not necessarily meaningful.

Don't ask me for a score, guys. Come on....😔

Okay, fine! B...-

Have some raw, unenhanced screenshots!

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Originally posted on Facebook.