Excerpt: SORCERER: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist by Geoffrey James

SORCERER:  A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, the novel describes an early scientist’s descent into mysticism and madness. The year is 1584. John Dee, the greatest scholar of his age, has turned from reputable science to forbidden magic. In partnership with a visionary rogue, an ex-nun and a court […]

Test Your Knowledge of Movie Cliches

Answers and scoring at bottom of post. The hero and his less macho sidekick are about to take an alcoholic drink.  How will the sidekick react? Twelve men and a woman are walking through a desert.  Who is about to be attacked by a snake? What do people in the movies almost never do, even […]

Is SETI Hopeless?

Today’s manhunt in Boston for the alleged Marathon bomber has pretty much buried yesterday’s story that NASA’s Kepler telescope has discovered three exoplanets that contain water and support life. The discovery is interesting, of course, but to my mind a little sad because it’s highly unlikely that human beings will ever visit a star system […]

The Dumbest Part of The Lord of the Rings

I first read Tolkien when I was 13 and (like many others before and after) totally fell in love with the Middle Earth thing. I’ve read the trilogy (and the Hobbit) probably a dozen times, listened to the BBC version five or six times, listened to the audio book twice and, of course, I seen […]

How to Make a SciFi Feature Film for $500

In 2006, I created Borg War, an animated Star Trek feature film. Since I suspect that most writers would jump at the change to script a Star Trek film, I thought it might be of interest for me to describe the filmmaking process. Before I get started, I should probably point out that contrary to […]

Lessons from the Tolkien Boycott

How times have changed. Back in the late 60s, Ace Books found a loophole in the copyright for The Lord of the Rings that allowed them to publish an “unauthorized” (i.e. pirated) paperback edition. Since the only alternative in the U.S. was the much-more-expensive Houghton Mifflin hardback, the Ace edition sold very well. When Balantine […]

AI is Religion Not Science

A few weeks ago, I posted an explanation of why it’s highly unlikely that that anybody will anytime soon replicate the human brain on a digital computer. In that post, I explained that a single human brain is an analog computer that’s enormously more complex than any digital computer or combination of digital computers. In […]

Why Sorcerers Have Long Grizzled Beards

Ever notice that fictional sorcerers always seem to have long, grizzled beards? Ever wondered why?  Well, probably you haven’t, but you’re about to find out. The sorcerer “look” originally comes from a real-life sorcerer named Doctor John Dee. Grand Mal Press has recently published my new novel about John Dee entitled “Sorcerer: A Novel of […]

Mini-Review of Felicity Savage’s “Black Wedding”

It’s been so long since I’ve heard a “new voice” in horror writing that I’d forgotten what it feels like. Felicity Savage’s “Black Wedding” in her collection Black Wedding and Five More Funerals gave the kind of “jolt” of sudden awareness that I felt when I read Susanna Clarke for the first time. Part of […]

How to Begin a Short Story

Maybe I’m just impatient, but I’ll generally stop reading a short story if the first two paragraphs don’t answer the following questions: Who is this story about? (Character) Why should I care about that character? (Empathy) Where is this story taking place? (Location) When is this story taking place? (Time Period) What might happen during […]

Why Piracy is Never Okay

Since the bloggers on this site are mostly authors who no doubt believe in the concept of copyright (because presumably they’d like to get paid for their work), I thought I’d go through the arguments that get surfaced every time I point out that piracy is a form of petty theft. Here are the arguments, […]

A Way To End Ebook Piracy?

I recently had my most-recent non-fiction book pop up on an illegal file sharing site.  Within a week, it had gotten 500 downloads. Needless to say, I was p*ssed off. The site (which I won’t mention here) is openly scoff-law because they’re hosted in China. On the site, they’re “if you ask really nicely, maybe […]

Machines that Think Are Improbable

Intelligent robots have been part of the SciFi lexicon since before Fritz Lang’s seminal file Metropolis. While it’s fun to imagine what the world would be like with intelligent machines, the sad truth is that “strong” Artificial Intelligence (AI) will probably never happen. I recently read an interview in The New York Time Magazine recently […]

How SFX Can Ruin a Horror Film

It recently struck me how most of the films that, IMHO, were truly scary were the ones that had little or no digital special effects. The reason is simple: what makes something scary is mostly what you don’t see rather than what you do see. Compare, for example, Alien (1979) with it’s putative prequel, Prometheus […]

The Unsavory Racism of Middle Earth

The concept of race in Middle Earth bears a strong resemblance to racist concepts that were popular during Tolkien’s youth. Readers need to be aware of these concepts and guard against taking them literally.