New Release: Valor’s Cost

Valor’s Cost is out today!

You can get your copy from Amazon, here:  https://amzn.to/2DCqO6J

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”  -Norman Cousins

Jiden Armstrong has seen death and destruction, visited upon people around her.  She has spent the past three years attending the Century Military Academy in the hopes that she can protect her people.  Now, though, she has lost those most dear to her.  Worst of all, the people who did it were coming after Jiden.
She’s going to have to rebuild her life.  Jiden will have to fall back on her friends and her family to recover.  She’s going to have to find a new reason to live and come to terms with her losses… and her enemies haven’t given up.  To them, Jiden Armstrong is another pawn in the game… one that is inconveniently placed.  They’re going to keep coming after her so long as she stands in their way and if Jiden can’t stop them, then the people paying the cost of Jiden’s valor may well be those closest to her.
Advertisements

Assistant Dog Watcher: Jobs of the Future

Humans evolve and grow and human ingenuity being what it is, we’re problem solvers and we’re always trying to find new ways to do things.  As a consequence, the things humans do to earn their pay have evolved and will continue to evolve.  Those who don’t agree, I invite to talk to their local thatchers and shepherds, and if you can’t find them, as your operator to put you through on your wall mounted phone.  I’ll be here, waiting.

Humor aside, the constant is that human jobs have diversified.  The vast majority of humanity used to live on subsistence farming (before that we were hunter-gathers).  Now we have artists, engineers, pet groomers, farmers, scientists, philosophers, and even those layabout writers.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there will always be the roughneck-type jobs like welding, pipelaying, machining… skilled labor is something that will be in demand, the artisans of our era will be around long into the future, because they often do unique problem solving of the type that computers often can’t.

What jobs are out there in the future?  I don’t think the jobs people do now will necessarily disappear, mind you, but I do think that many, especially the low-skill jobs, are going away.  Managerial positions will be there for as long as there are humans in employment (or robots, because robot workers still need direction).  The typical futuristic jobs in science fiction are ship-related (Captain, Navigator, Pilot, Engineer, etc), but there’s a variety of cyber-punk jobs like hackers, programmers, and information brokers.  These are projections, drawn from current events and times.

Most of these require skill, training, and knowledge.  There’s no entry level master-hacker positions posted on job-boards of the future… or if there are, I recommend thinking twice before showing up for your first day of work.  Those who sail the stars can begin training, too, but as what?  Apprentices?  Midshipmen?  Cadets?  What’s the pay like and who pays them?

There’s presumably job opportunities for the less-skilled, too, and those with lower ambitions.    Most minimum wage jobs now are positions where someone can build up some basic skills and move on to bigger and brighter things.  Other than a post-scarcity society, everyone has to earn their ration packets and their single bed habitation pod, right?  The problem being, when I think of masses of unskilled labor in a futuristic setting, it’s rarely in a good connotation.  Labor that’s dirty, dangerous, and unpleasant is the norm in futuristic settings, often when humans are seen as cheaper and more expendable than robots.

So what’s an unskilled person to do?  It’s a question I struggle with when I world-build.  Robots can do things with massive efficiency.  they’re always on, they don’t have holidays or breaks, you do the maintenance and they work… and the maintainers are skilled labor.  We’ve begun moving a lot of the menial jobs towards that route.  Janitorial robots don’t steal, they don’t get drunk and fail to show up for work.  Computer kiosks allow restaurants to cut down on wait staff and minimize their overhead.  There will be some of these jobs in the future, but they’re likely to be fewer in number and rather more selective (possibly even highly technical).

What’s a fresh out of school space-boy to do, then?  Technical schooling is obviously going to take priority, there’s always going to be a need for those who can design, build, and maintain machines.  Military service is an option, too.  And there’s always positions in customer service and human relations, after all, someone has to manage both employees and customers.  There’s still a need for farmers, doctors, nurses, lawyers (shudder), politicians (sigh), and all the rest, too.

Where’s the growth?  What are the new fields that will erupt?  Sort of like Information Technology has, which has then split out into a dozen or more fields ranging from Information Security (who make information harder to access) to the polar opposite, Knowledge Management (who make information easier to access).

This is one of many questions I tangle with as an author.  My futures, tellingly, still have many of the jobs and job descriptions that they have now.  There are still archaeologists, historians, and entertainers, because we’re still human.  We still have problems to solve and we’re willing to pay (employ) people to solve those problems for us.

Valor’s Cost Coming Soon

No, really, I promise!

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”  -Norman Cousins

Jiden Armstrong has seen death and destruction, visited upon people around her.  She has spent the past three years attending the Century Military Academy in the hopes that she can protect her people.  Now, though, she has lost those most dear to her.  Worst of all, the people who did it were coming after Jiden.
She’s going to have to rebuild her life.  Jiden will have to fall back on her friends and her family to recover.  She’s going to have to find a new reason to live and come to terms with her losses… and her enemies haven’t given up.  To them, Jiden Armstrong is another pawn in the game… one that is inconveniently placed.  They’re going to keep coming after her so long as she stands in their way and if Jiden can’t stop them, then the people paying the cost of Jiden’s valor may well be those closest to her.

Since there’s some rather… impactful events that happen in the first chapters, I will not be snippeting Valor’s cost.  But it will be out and live on 28 September.  Mark down the date!

A Worthy Evolution: The Predator Movie Review

Hey everyone.  I went and saw The Predator this weekend.  It’s getting rather mixed reviews, so I thought I’d put in my own two cents.

You know the scene in Ant Man, where Luis  is explaining something and it rambles everywhere and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but is probably the best part of the movie?  That’s Shane Black’s The Predator.   It’s fast, it rambles, there’s scenes & dialogue that you think are going somewhere and end up going off on a tangent instead… and it’s a lot of fun on the way.

I’ll note that I didn’t give The Predator a very high bar to success.  It had to be better than the last Alien vs Predator movie (which was about as bad as dousing my eyeballs with lime).  It surpassed that by a wide margin.   In fact, I’ll rate it as one of my favorite movies this year.

There were a ton of 80’s references in the movie, everything from “get to the choppas” to the fact that the movie opened with no previews, it went straight into the movie sort of like movies *used* to do.

The humor was good, the characters were just strong enough that you could root for them without having to worry about a lot of angst as they died.  The Group 2 military folks were… well, very accurate in a lot of ways, from the inter-service rivalries to the fact that they dealt with horrible situations with dark humor and an unwillingness to give up.

The action was over-the-top and in some ways, just totally unbelievable.  But it worked with the overall story.  The Stargazer project boss was sufficiently crazy and evil that after a first couple scenes with him, you know he’s going to die horribly and you’re actually rooting for a predator as he dismantles his henchmen.

There’s some story and plot elements that either weren’t made clear enough or that they could have spent some time on… but I’ll accept the hand-wave in a combination of (very) unreliable narrator and the limits of the movie.  There’s details that we don’t need to know and that Shane Black streamlined the movie is obvious.  The couple of scenes where we get a break from the relentless pace are used to establish characterization and to add depth to the movie.

I’ve got a couple of complaints as far as the use of actors.  Yvonne Stahovoski’s character was almost criminally underused.  She’s a fantastic actress and I would have like to see more of her.  Olivia Munn’s scientist was a bit too much of a bad-ass for her background, but she pulled it off well enough.

Story wise, I felt like it was a combination of Lethal Weapon and Predator, with the gritty buddy-cop feel to the two lead military characters.  Which worked very well for me, especially with the blend of humor.  The references to 80’s and 90’s action movies were great.  I feel like it needed a scene with Danny Glover sitting on a toilet saying “I’m getting too old for this shit,” but other than that, I think it was far more “predator” than the last few movies in that vein.

The ending, too, sets the stage for a sequel I’d actually like to see, with humans using and adapting alien tech.  I don’t want to spoil anything here, but I definitely think it’s a great ending (even if they jump ahead missing some key details on how they got there).

The movie is surprisingly pro-military and at the same time, very anti-authority.  The ‘authorities’ have private mercenaries and conduct experiments and authorize murders and false-imprisonment of innocent people.  The actual military members we see are trustworthy, work hard, and sacrifice everything to do what’s right, even when they know they’re going up against something they can’t defeat.  There was a lot of the Aliens vibe from the “military” characters in this one, and I really liked that.

So don’t believe all the internet rage and certainly don’t judge the movie based on the critic reviews.  It’s crazy, it’s messy, but man is this movie a whole lot of fun.  So loosen your tie, sit back, and just enjoy the ride.