The universe is a big place.
It’s so big, the vastness is difficult to comprehend for even seasoned astronomers. I never get tired of contemplating our place in the universe. Recently, a group of scientists studied the dynamics of several thousand galaxies around our own Milky Way and discovered some incredibly interesting patterns. Yes, the universe as a whole is expanding, but the relationships among the pieces within that expansion are even more complex than it first appeared. Have a look at this fascinating video (about 4 minutes) and see for yourself where we fit into the cosmic scheme of things.
Being human is hard.
Who am I so wise in the ways of science to come up with that brilliant conclusion? I’m nobody, really. Just someone who attempts to make a living out of observing the human condition as we hurtle through space atop an unremarkable (or remarkable, depending on your point of view) ball of rock with a bit of water and oxygen tossed in, just to break up the monotony. I am recorder and participant, examiner and subject.
“All right,” You may say, feeling somewhat frustrated by my obfuscating answer to the first question. What drove me to my pithy opening statement?
Now you’re miffed because this answer was too direct and implied an unsatisfying circular logic. Or, you smiled and maybe even chuckled to yourself.
And that is precisely my point. We all belong to a single species, yet at times we feel as different from each other as amoebas and elephants. We are complicated creatures who often find it difficult to understand our own reactions to things, let alone someone else’s. Two people can read an article or look at a picture and feel entirely different things. For instance, humor and cleverness on one hand, and hatred and violence on the other.
The attack in France recently showed us these opposing reactions. It’s easy to label the perpetrators of death as monsters, yet while their actions were certainly monstrous, labels won’t escape the harsh reality that they were also human. Emotions we’ve all felt — disgust, rage, persecution, fear, hopelessness — led to humans perpetrating violence on other humans. This isn’t something new either. Humans have waged war on each other throughout history for these very same reasons. Does that make us all monsters?
Some would argue it does. Others would say only those who perform the acts are monsters. Those we might call monsters claim they acted out of courage and self-preservation — noble attributes in most estimations.
“Ridiculous!” You say. “There’s nothing noble about the attack on Charlie Hebdo.” I would agree, yet there are many people in the world who would not. They are just as human as any of the rest of us.
Let’s look back at recent American history, to the abortion clinic bombings of the 1980s. People with Christian ideologies committed arson and murder, all the while in the firm belief they were doing the right thing. Were they any different than the Muslims who killed the people working at Charlie Hebdo? “Those were thirty years ago,” You may argue. “We’ve learned from our mistakes.” Unfortunately, violent attacks against these clinics have continued to happen, even as recently as 2012 and 2013 in Florida, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Dr. George Tiller was murdered in 2009 in Kansas.
We all hold different beliefs. We all feel right in our beliefs. It’s part of the definition of a belief. Where we run into trouble is extending that feeling of “right” to “righteousness” — the loss of tolerance for anything which conflicts with our beliefs. Freedom gives us the ability to feel and believe anything we want to. Freedom also means we must accept and tolerate those who hold beliefs contrary to our own, because, they too have the ability to feel and believe anything they want to.
Acting with violence toward someone else who holds different beliefs than you do is never acceptable. Neither is bullying them or suppressing their views or their ability to be heard. To live in a truly free society, we must all pay the price of tolerance and simply agree to disagree.
I want to first thank everyone who jumped in and pre-ordered Going Solo these past couple of weeks. It’s so nice to know that people are excited for the new book! Second, and most important, I want to wish everyone a fun, love-filled, and safe holiday season and pass along my best wishes for a spectacular 2015!
May the new year bring you all the joy and happiness you could ask for!
Yes, that headline is correct! Going Solo, book 3 in the Tales of Uncertainty series is now available for pre-order on Amazon and as a thank you to all of Dare’s fans and my loyal readers, it’s priced at 99 cents for this pre-launch period. Once the book goes live on December 23, it will move to its regular price of 3.99. So, get in while the gettin’ is good!
Here’s the back cover teaser:
As a member of the Heisenberg family, I was taught to value analytics and the doctrines of logical thought. The life I’ve led for the past year or more, however, has been one that makes Dorothy’s Oz look like a sedate convention of elderly physicists.
Now, a bit like that lost and forlorn Kansas girl, I’m on a mission to bring a scarecrow and a brain together. Only, instead of the scarecrow as a companion, I have the brain. Kim’s core programming is lodged within a sleek, new time machine that is easy on the eyes, but atrocious in the gas mileage department. Nothing short of a load of antimatter will do to get us where we need to go.
Fortunately, our path forward seems as easy to follow as Dorothy’s. Pick up the fuel and get Kim installed in her star. Yet, my experiences as a time traveling agent have shown me one thing above all else.
Even yellow brick roads are littered with cavernous potholes.
And here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1. Warning! Possible spoilers ahead!
“It needs a name,” Lauri said.
Five of us, Lauri, Dr. Lansing, M’sang Tah, Bob, and I, stood in the currently dim light of the cavernous hangar within the pahsahni home ship. In the distance behind us, a small crew performed repairs on one of the dozen scout vessels parked in neat rows — an occasional barked order or clank of a tool reached my ears. Otherwise, the space was quiet, save for the ever-present thrum of the massive ship’s ventilation system. Work had finished on Bob and Dr. Lansing’s collaborative creation only an hour or so before. The pahsahni technicians had filed out of the hangar, weary but proud of their efforts, yet nearly all had been ignorant of the true purpose of the machine they had built, which floated before us, a few inches off the deck.
Names like Enterprise, Millennium Falcon, and even T.A.R.D.I.S. ran through my thoughts, but while the vehicle’s function might be similar, it looked about as far from a blue police call box as it could get. Blacker than the inside of a cave at night, the triangular ship sported a cockpit that could seat two in comfort and three in a pinch. I guessed it measured barely more than twenty feet from tip to tip and bore no markings of any kind. Rivets or lettering would have offended its flawless obsidian lines to the point I couldn’t imagine any ever existing there.
“Nevermore,” I blurted out, remembering a haunting poem I’d read in school.
Dr. Lansing nodded. “Hm. Edgar Allen Poe. The Raven, right? Seems like an odd name for a time machine, but the raven imagery certainly fits.”
“I like it,” Lauri said with a smile.
“A designation is inessential to its function,” Bob said through his translator device. “But I am becoming familiar with the human desire for monikers. Nevermore it is.”
M’sang Tah grunted. “Regardless of what it’s called, it still requires a power source.”
I looked over at my hairy mentor. “I don’t understand. I thought neutron stars produced gobs of energy. Won’t the piece of Kim that Bob brought be enough?”
Bob answered my question. “Most of the energy generated by the programming core is currently being used to counteract its gravitational influence within the ship. Once you’re in space, that will not be necessary, but the energy required to transfer that much mass from one thread to another is monumental. Additional power, beyond what the core produces, is required.”
“There are stores of anti-matter in the Hub,” Dr. Lansing said.
I chuckled. “Yeah, I remember. Hope tried to blow us all up with them.”
“That confrontation didn’t occur in this thread, Dare,” M’sang Tah reminded me.
“Right,” I said with a nod.
Dr. Lansing continued. “Anyway, we’ll collect what’s there and hope it’s enough to make the jump.”
“Wait,” Lauri said. “You converted the Hub into a hydroponics farm. We saw that when you brought us here.”
“We did,” Lansing confirmed. “But sections which produce power were left alone, along with a handful of others, including my lab until we made that last trip to fetch you two.”
I turned to M’sang Tah, “All right. So, we go down to Mars and get the anti-matter, then we switch threads so we can plug Kim’s core into her star. Is that it?”
My mentor inclined his head to the side. “Essentially, yes.”
That task list would have sounded preposterous to me just a few months before. Part of me knew it was probably still preposterous, but I was anxious for an assignment. Lauri and I had arrived almost two days earlier and had to wait while work finished on Nevermore. Lauri spent most of her time catching up with Dr. Lansing, which left me alone with nothing to do since I had no skills remotely related to constructing space ships or time machines to offer. “Cool. How soon can we go?”
“We need to run some flight tests,” Bob said. “But that’s something you and Lauri should participate in.”
I grinned. “Awesome!”
M’sang Tah pointed to the closest doorway. “Go collect your things while we prep the ship.”
— — —
There you go! For more, you’ll just have to wait until December 23rd! In the meantime, if you’re in the Billings, Montana area, come see me at the Annual MSU-B Writers’ Roundup hosted by the Festival of Trees at the Shrine Auditorium this Saturday, December 6th from 12-5. I’ll be signing books and chatting with anyone who’ll stop to listen ;-) I might even have some goodies to give away!
As promised a few days ago, here is the cover for the upcoming Book Three in the Tales of Uncertainty series, Going Solo.
What do you think? Publication is slated for late November/ early December. It’s going through its final edits now! Dare’s newest adventure leads him back to Mars and into the far reaches of the universe. I should have a back cover blurb and maybe a sample chapter for you in a few days. Happy Monday!