Do Popular Genres Map to the Seven Emotional Pathways of the Mammalian Brain?

The eminent neuroscientist, Jaak Panskepp, pioneered the study of emotion in mammals. He is famous for, among other things, tickling rats in the lab to make them laugh, but his work wasn’t a joke. He discovered that all mammals, including humans, share the same seven emotional pathways, commonly identified as: fear, care, lust, rage, panic/grief, seeking, and play. These are not vague “predispositions” teased from … Continue reading Do Popular Genres Map to the Seven Emotional Pathways of the Mammalian Brain?

The Problem with “The Three-Body Problem”

From a recent review of Cixin Liu’s Nebula Award-nominated and Hugo Award-winning “The Three-Body Problem” on Big Think: “Why We Should Really Stop Trying to Contact Aliens” by Robby Berman Cixin’s writing is beyond smart — it’s brilliant — and it’s science fiction of the best kind, with mind-boggling ideas and perceptions, and characters you care about. His concept of the dark forest, though presented … Continue reading The Problem with “The Three-Body Problem”

No such thing as a good ugly woman

I’m sure many of you have seen where the NY Times put together an interactive chart that asked people to rank all the characters in Game of Thrones on a good-evil/ugly-beautiful axis. The results should be of interest to storytellers. There is a clear bi-lobed cluster. You could argue of course that this is the result of the show’s producers rather than a statement on … Continue reading No such thing as a good ugly woman

The Strange Uniformity of Madness

After coming across some references to Posadism, I recently got sucked into the art and philosophy of the ectocultures (my term). I don’t mean the Occupy movement or Anonymous, but the real deviants, people who either were (or maybe should have been) institutionalized. There is almost no coherent categorization, except that they’re all highly conspiratorial, anti-rational, and often invoke alien or demonic powers (or both). … Continue reading The Strange Uniformity of Madness

The Shipbreakers

I ran across pictures of this while doing research for settings for my novels. Both fascinating and heartbreaking. Oceangoing vessels are not meant to be taken apart. They’re designed to withstand extreme forces in some of the planet’s most difficult environments, and they’re often constructed with toxic materials, such as asbestos and lead. When ships are scrapped in the developed world, the process is more … Continue reading The Shipbreakers

Writer’s Block

A couple times now I’ve been asked how I handle it, most recently yesterday. This is my answer. I don’t think there’s a thing called Writer’s Block. What we call Writer’s Block is a collection of many different psychological faults and phenomena, some real, some imagined, so don’t fall for it. In my experience, there’s a big problem and a little problem hidden in there. The … Continue reading Writer’s Block

Review of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Glass Key”

Reading Dashiell Hammett is a lot like listening to the Beatles; you’ve heard them before even if you’ve never heard them before. Edgar Allen Poe invented detective fiction, but Hammett invented the detective that audiences since immediately associate with the genre. A former Pinkerton, Hammett abandoned the British gentleman-detective popularized by Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, characters who are never really in any danger from … Continue reading Review of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Glass Key”

The Planck length as a “pixel” of our universe

One of the chief characteristics of simulations is low information density compared to the phenomenon being simulated. Very complex simulations may have relatively higher information density, in the sense that high definition images are noticeably closer to real life than standard definition images, but even those will still fall short of reality. The human eye, for example, has a discrete resolution. The width of the … Continue reading The Planck length as a “pixel” of our universe