* * *
Illinois' state budget is crooked and evil. Which should not surprise anyone.
* * *
Chicago's gang problem continues to spiral out of control.
* * *
I was thinking about something the other day.
I was thinking about how--in my primary SF universe--a tyrant seizes control of the government and his reign lasts about six months, which is about as long as it takes for a force of ships to arrive from a colony which recently declared, fought for, and won its independence.
The first thing that came to mind was the realization that if you fire a 50 megawatt beam laser in atmosphere, anyone within a few miles of it would be lucky if he were only struck blind. Remember that video I linked to a couple months ago, where the guy built a 200 watt blue laser gun and had to wear a modified welding helmet to protect his vision from the light of the Rayleigh scattering? (Which is to say, laser light scattering off the air molecules?) Now multiply that by a factor of 250,000 and that's how seriously bad for you it would be to be in the same county as that laser cannon when it was firing.
Short form: 50 megawatt beam cannon=NO.
But it was a nice image while it lasted. I can still do the massive laser cannons in New York City; they just have to be less...potent. Probably pulsed instead of beam, too, but that's also not really a problem. Beam cannons that big are fine for operations in outer space, but not in atmosphere.
The other thing: it occurred to me this evening that the tyrant in question--having, so far, no real meat to his character other than a name and a few actions--could easily be a transvestite or something, and it would fit perfectly with the mileiu and look at J. Edgar Hoover, for cripes' sake. (Allegedly.)
In general I've been trying to figure out how to write something other than blog posts, and failing. The other day I looked over the first chunk of a story I wrote about the first man to visit Alpha Centauri, and realized there were at least three things which I had unconsciously done which are stock-standard modern SF horseshit:
1) The ship's astrogator is a black African woman who developed the techniques used on the ship for astrogation. (Heinlein could get away with this. Not me.)
2) The ship's security officer is a woman. (Granted, 90% of the crew is pasty scientists and she could probably beat half of them up even if they all rushed her, but if even one of them has any knowledge of fighting or martial arts whatsoever she'd be toast.)
3) I made sure to check off all kinds of racial boxes, and the antagonist is a white man.
There was something that bothered me about the story, and I couldn't quite put my finger on it, until now. It's going to have to be edited severely. I'm going to de-PC the damned thing, and then I'll have something worthwhile to build on.
Plus side, though, is that even though I can't figure out where to start my "decline and fall of..." story, I am getting some work done on it. Here and there.