L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

16 November 2006 Blog Home : November 2006 : Permalink


This month those of us wh signed up for NANOWRIMO are supposed to write a 50,000 word novel. At the half way mark I think it is fair to admit that I have failed. I may well keep plugging away at the novel but I'm not going to make any attempt to extend it beyond 20,000 words or so (slightly less than double where it is now) and I seriously doubt I will have a finished tale at that point.


Because, while there is a plot, there isn't any underlying cool science or thinking in it and, as far as I'm concerned, a science fiction story ought to be more than shoot-em-up space opera. That isn't to say I won't find a nice technological hook to tie on to the tale, and if that happens then I'll be able to reuse what I've written, but currently the story is lacking what I consider a critical pillar.

On the other hand out running earlier this week I came up with a really cool near future tale. One of the things that has always fascinated me is how human intelligence would appear to an intelligence that has evolved in a totally different way - a human version of what I call the "Japanese research question" after a joke I once heard. [The Joke - 3 teams of reseachers are studying elephants: the Americans study them to find out how strong they are; the French study them to discover their sex life and how much sex thay have; and the Japanese study them to find out what elephants think of the Japanese ]

I've written a couple of stories about intelligent trees, one from the perspective of the researchers who figure out that the trees are intelligent and a second from the point of view of one of the trees as it tries to learn from humans. They need a bit of polishing and finishing up but I consider them to be essentially complete (oh and yes the inspiration came from a situation similar to this one) so I needed a new one. Fortunately I recently read Von Neumann's War so the idea of an intelligence coming to visit us on earth was not a difficult one to come up with, nor was the concept of such a visitor being a kind of hostile self-replicating automata (i.e. a Von Neumann machine). However my extraterrestrial intelligence is rather different to the one in that book and its attempted conquest of Earth is rather different...

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin