Category Archives: Science Fiction

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.

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Painting the Kabal of the Joker: Why So Serious?

Note: I was going to post this back on the 17th, but then my father-in-law passed away, so priorities shifted (I didn’t end up going to that tournament, either).  I didn’t finish all the detail work on these models, but I hope to get to it when I get time again.  Best laid plans of mice and men, as they say.

A bit of a change of pace, but here’s something I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been playing Warhammer 40k since 2002 (Warhammer Fantasy Battles since 2001), and I’ve had a Dark Eldar (now Drukhari) army since 2003.  My Kabal of the Joker has been an army since the relaunch of the entire model line back in 2010 or so.  At the time, I thought that nothing quite captured the Dark Eldar’s cheerful nihilism quite like the Joker.  I’ll probably post pictures of my legacy armies at some point, but I’ve been slowly working my way through painting some of the stuff that fell by the wayside between military deployments and the whole getting married and having a kid things.

I’m getting everything painted up for a tournament this weekend, which is why I painted the models I did.  I have, well, let’s just say “a lot” of 40k models and my Dark Eldar armies are a little out of control (I’ve got a lot of painting to do to ever get them all done, much less the other armies I have).

One of the first things I did was “update” and touch up my Archon, the Joker.  He’s loosely based off of Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight.  As you can see, I swapped out the arm (mostly because packing him up  that spear was a pain).  I also changed the color of the base (I’d originally gone for some kind of lava theme and I wasn’t happy with how it worked out).  I think the update worked well, over all.

Going on with the theme, I already had a Harley Quinn (Lillith Hesperax), so I decided my other Succubus would be Poison Ivy.  I went counter the normal DE themes and went with light green (Citidel Paint’s Moot Green) for her armor, with darker green for her body-suit and I kept the Joker theme going with purple for her weapons and some accents.  Overall, I’m pretty happy with how she turned out.  She’s ready to dish out poisonous kisses and murder things, just like a Dark Eldar should.

One of my ongoing projects was my Haemoculous Coven, and one of my hold-ups with them was finding a theme.  I finally decided to go with a Mr Freeze theme, sticking with the DC Villians idea.  I’d already acquired some Rat Ogres to convert as Grotesques and I decided to update my old Talos as a new Chronos as well.  All in all, I used pale skin with a blue wash to make them look “cold” and made use of blue crystals on the bases (and in their flesh) to put in a cold theme overall.  For Mr Freeze himself, I updated my older Haemoculous to fit the theme.

 

 

 

I also finally painted up my squad of “new” (are they new if I’ve had them for 8 years?) Talos models (Taloi?).  I stuck with the same theme and all in all, I’m pretty happy with how they look.  To escort them into battle, I repainted a squad of my older models, what were originally Grotesques and which I now use as Wracks (Oh, GW, some of your original DE models were terrible).  Since the new Wracks are finecast and I hate finecast with the passion of a thousand burning suns, I’m sticking with the old models until I can decide on an appropriate conversion.

I also painted two squads of warriors and their raiders to accompany the Joker into battle.  As you can see, I stuck with the green & purple theme for them, along with their Ravager and Razorwing Fighter.

 

 

 

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, especially since I painted them all in two weeks (about 2-3 hours in the evenings).   Depending on interest, I may post more of my models as I pull them out and work on touching them up.  Thanks for reading!

Worldbuilding in SF Part 3: Those Little Details

Wordbuilding is an important tool for any writer, particularly for science fiction.  It adds depth to a book, it helps to develop character backgrounds, and it provides a pallate on which to paint your story.  In Part 1 (link), I talked about the foundations of building your universe.  In Part 2 (link) I talked about building worlds and star systems.  Here in Part 3, I’m going to talk about those little details that really contribute to the story.

Where Does It Come From?

One of the questions I find myself asking as I read a book is where things come from.  Who made the flying car, was it a fully automated factory or the hand-crafted work of a mad-genius inventor?  All the “stuff” that your characters use and interact with has to come from somewhere, whether it’s the weapons they use to mow down the bad guys, the starship they use to travel from one world to another, or the hand-distilled gasoline they use to roam the wastelands.  As an author, knowing who made it and how the character acquired it can be important.  Maybe that ship was made by a renegade faction and they want it back, or the fuel is a rare and precious resource that people will kill over.  These are world-building elements that can tie directly into plot points for your story.  Knowing where it was made, who made it, and how it got to the characters hands can give you a lot of material to work with in your story.

Who Are The Big Players?

Knowing who the big players are in the universe is a key part of worldbuilding and crosses over into plotting out your novel.  Knowing that the antagonist for the main character in your first novel is the henchman of a greater villain that your characters will have to fight further on down the line is a perfect example.  Knowing that the ally of a player is the child of a world leader sets up some potential help or conflicts of interest down the road.  Putting names in your book isn’t necessary, but it does add some depth.  Knowing how those people interact and whether or not they get along also adds some depth and can help you to write your story.  The main characters getting caught up in familial disputes is part of the driving element of my Children of Valor series, and its something that most people can easily relate to, in that family can often be as much a hindrance as help.

Putting It All Together

At this point, you’ve gone from the big questions all the way down to the characters that fill your universe.  Hopefully you have a good grasp on how it all ties together.  That’s all great news, but right now you don’t have a novel, you have a setting.  Putting it all together, making things happen, requires characters.

Creating interesting and dynamic characters is much easier when you draw them from the backgrounds of the worlds they live in.  A renegade heir to a corporate empire who has forsaken his family’s ill-gotten gains can be all the more real when you know that his parent’s company utilizes the equivalent of slave labor in their factories.  The never-do-well mercenary with a heart of gold makes for a more dynamic and realistic character when you know that he once served in the military and was a decorated war-hero, before everything went south.

Your setting, the world you built, comes to life with characters.  They bring with them all their experiences, all their background, and they are the paintbrushes with which you tell your story.   Remember, also, that you’re here to tell a story, not to show every detail of the world you created.  Sprinkle in those details throughout, but treat them like spices when you cook, a little bit can go a long way.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to check out my other posts on world-building.  I’ve got one on Steampunk and one on Fantasy.

 

Movie Review: Ant Man and the Wasp

As things go, Ant Man and the Wasp was exactly the movie I needed to see.   If you’re a fan of the Marvel movies, or even if you aren’t, it’s fun, fast paced, and humorous.  The risks are dire and personal, this isn’t a movie where they’re fighting an alien of ridiculous power and strength.  These are people dealing with problems that make sense (even if some of those problems involve quantum mechanics).

It’s a movie that doesn’t hesitate to use humor to diffuse a tense situation and where the nonsensical is an acceptable route for problem-solving.  It rewards the audience for paying attention.  It also does a great job of showing that super-powers don’t necessarily solve problems and often times makes things more complicated.  It does all that without being preachy or boring, while still giving you enough time to process everything that’s happened.

And yeah, it ties into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Captain America Civil War and Infinity War.  At this point, I’m having a difficult time thinking of a movie they haven’t done well enough to be entertaining.  Ant Man and the Wasp is fun, engaging, and there’s enough interesting emotional and “real” world problems that I really found myself on the edge of my seat.  So if you haven’t already seen it, go watch it already.

Prisoner of the Mind Discounted This Weekend

Prisoner of the Mind will be available for $0.99 all weekend.  If you haven’t got your copy yet, here is your chance to get it for cheap.

https://amzn.to/2s02F1B

How do you know right from wrong if every memory, every thought in your head was put there by your enemies?

In a near-future, when humanity has begun to spread throughout the stars.  In the process, they’ve awakened abilities hidden within their own DNA.  Psychics have begun to appear at ever-increasing rates with abilities that range from mental manipulation to mass destruction and beyond.  Empowered by public hysteria and fear of psychics, Amalgamated Worlds has taken over.  Their powerful combination of military and security forces, control of media and communications, and manipulation of internal threats has created a police state that spans all of human space.

Shaden Kirroy is a product of that police state.  Designed to be a weapon for use against his fellow psychics as well as any civilians who step out of line, he is an artificially enhanced psychic.  He is a blank slate, his past erased and replaced with engineered loyalty to Amalgamated Worlds.
 
Yet Shaden realizes that something is terribly wrong.  As his world begins to unravel, as he realizes the horrors of what was done to him, Shaden must find a way to free himself, to unlock the prison of his own mind.
 

Valor’s Duty: Reviews Wanted

Valor’s Duty by Kal Spriggs

Thanks to everyone who purchased copies of Valor’s Duty!  It has been hanging out in the top ten of its category on Amazon and the initial feedback looks great.  I’m really grateful that everyone seems to enjoy the book, especially since I love writing this series.

If you’ve read the book, I would love to hear your feedback, either by email or through Amazon or Goodreads.  Reviews help to sell books, so please help other people find these books and leave reviews!

If you haven’t got your copy yet, you can find it here: https://amzn.to/2Lc19Bw

Thanks again for reading!

Now Available: Valor’s Duty!

Valor’s Duty is now live!  You can get your ebook copy exclusively from Amazon.

Link:  https://amzn.to/2Lc19Bw

Duty is heavier than a mountain; death is lighter than a feather. 

Jiden’s life at the Century Military Academy is forever changed when she is asked to volunteer for a special program.  They want to implant her and other cadets with a special, prototype neural computer.  It will make them smarter, more capable, and able to split their attention between dozens of activities.  Her friends jump at the opportunity… but Jiden isn’t so certain.

She sees it as her duty to volunteer. Despite all of her doubts, it’s a duty she owes to her world and to her friends.  But as things begin to go wrong, as her life is put in danger once again, Jiden quickly realizes that she may have shouldered a duty that she can’t bear.  The implants might be driving her fellow cadets violently insane… and Jiden may be next. 
She will need to muster every ounce of courage, every bit of intelligence, in order to save her friends.  Even then, her own survival might be too much to ask.  But Jiden doesn’t know how to back down, and she’ll do her duty no matter the cost