Good aliens or bad aliens?

“Childhood’s End”, based on one of Arthur C. Clarke’s best novels, is coming to the SYFY television network on December 14, 2015.  But are the visitors good aliens or bad aliens?

In the movie “Independence Day”, the world’s largest cities are visited by huge spaceships.  No one knows whether they are good aliens or bad aliens.  Of course, everyone knows they will find out soon enough.  The movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” depicts an alien visit with a particularly now-famous robot.  Good alien or bad alien?

In “The Last Mimzy”, children are affected by very advanced toys.  Are the toys provided by aliens or someone else?  Are they good or bad?  In the movie “2001”, a strange obelisk appears at multiple times on Earth and in space.  Is it alien?  Are they good aliens or bad aliens?

“Remorse Above Enceladus” in my new science fiction anthology, “Science Fiction: Time Travel and Robots 2”, involves the sudden arrival of aliens.  Are they good aliens or bad aliens?

Good aliens or bad aliens?  So often in science fiction, when aliens or some unknown forces are involved, this is the question.  I, for one, am very excited to find out whether the aliens in “Childhood’s End” are good aliens or bad aliens.  Of course, if you read the book, you probably think you already know the answer.  But television and movies have been known to change the ending of a book.  I don’t know if that has been done here or not.  So I’ll be wondering right from the start, good aliens or bad aliens?

“Science Fiction: Genetics”

See for “Science Fiction: Genetics”.  This is my first genetics-related anthology of my stories.  I enjoy following advances in genetic and epigenetic research, so I’m sure I will write more of these.

“You Can Choose Your Parents” refutes the notion that you can’t choose your parents.  “Liar” examines the life of a young woman who visits a Lie Bar.  “The Library of Pain” probes a psychologist’s patient who has issues with pain.  In “It’s in the Stars” we meet a couple who wonder if fame will be in the stars for their children.  “My Brother’s Keeper” is a clone mystery that takes place on Mars.

Versions for, including a variety of formats for various distributors,  of “Science Fiction: Genetics” and “Science Fiction: Time Travel and Robots 2” coming next.


“Science Fiction: Time Travel and Robots 2” by Richard S. Levine

Thank you to all my readers who have enjoyed “Science Fiction: Time Travel” or “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs”!  I’ve been so pleased with the response to these e-book anthologies that I decided to publish a volume 2 entitled “Science Fiction: Time Travel and Robots 2”.  It is now available on

Each story relates to some form of time travel, robots, or cyborgs.  “The Time of Your Life” makes a life and death game out of time travel.  “Oddly Perfect” examines math and time in multiple dimensions.  “RemoteDoc” describes a possible future for surgeons, In “Remorse above Enceladus” a robot space cowboy probes a new feeling, and “A Penny for your Thoughts” presents a futuristic social network.

Next, I will make this available on Smashwords for other reading devices and formats.  Also, “Science Fiction: Genetics” is in the works.





Pandora – making virtual reality real

Avatar’s Pandora is coming to Disneyworld’s Animal Kingdom by 2017.  That’s a pretty strong vote for 3D environments and their influence.

Universal Studios has already tried this to some extent, recreating a Jurassic Park environment in their theme park, and more recently the streets and buildings of the Harry Potter stories.  But Pandora is a totally made up world, and it does not exist on Earth at all.  Perhaps Disney’s Star Tours ride, Universal’s Simpson’s ride, and others are more along those lines, unless Harry Potter actually transports to another world when he goes to school.  In any case, they are all fantasy rides with some having elements of science fiction.

With Hololens, Oculus Rift, and Magic Leap — among others — upping the ante for virtual world experiences, is it any wonder Disney wants to get into the game by making virtual reality real?  I wonder how long it will be before you can go to a theme park and then put on your Hololens or Magic Leap headsets to enhance your experience as you walk through worlds like Pandora, Jurassic Park, Alice in Wonderland, Mars, and so many other interesting places of fantasy, science, and science fiction.

If you’d like to experience science fiction the old fashioned way, I have several e-book anthologies of my works you might like.

Trip to India, Singapore, and Cambodia

I recently returned from an amazing journey to India, Singapore, and Cambodia.  Besides the fact that these are fascinating countries to visit, they are also places that inspire imagination and creativity.

As with any trip half way round the world, I was tired — exhausted — when I returned after the long flights.  But now that I have caught up on sleep and chores, I am feeling a renewed inspiration for writing speculative fiction.

In India, I visited the World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora Caves.  Ajanta is a number of Buddhist man made caves with the art still visible in some of them after almost 2,000 years.  An expert guide is necessary to fully appreciate the stories that are on the walls of these caves.

North of Aurangabad, India, Ajanta Caves is a World Heritage site, but really a wonder of the world.
North of Aurangabad, India, Ajanta Caves is a World Heritage site, but really a wonder of the world.

Ellora is made up of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain temples that are over 1,000 years old and created in an atmosphere of harmony between the religions.  Cave 16 is said to be the largest megalith — made from a single rock — temple in the world.  This exists within the Deccan Traps region of India, a volcanic region so large that it is now thought that this area millions of years ago contributed, along with the well-known Chicxulub impact, to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Cave 16 is an amazing megalith (made from a single rock) temple in India.
Cave 16 is an amazing megalith (made from a single rock) temple in India.

In Singapore, I visited Gardens by the Bay, perhaps the most spectacular indoor gardens I have seen.  The MRT (subway) is excellent and made it easy to get around in the city.

MRT in Singapore
The subway is very nice and easy to figure out how to ride.
Plants and trees from all over the world
A cooled environment makes this an excellent place to spend a hot afternoon in Singapore. The gardens are beautiful.
The Cloud Forest
There are all kinds of exotic plants in the Cloud Forest dome next to the Flower Dome.

Finally, Siem Reap, Cambodia is the location of the Angkor archaeological site, famously known as a wonder of the world and the place where the “Tomb Raider” movie was filmed.  It is hard to capture on camera, because there is also the heat and humidity, and the smell of the jungle.  It’s an intense experience, and well worth making the trip.

At Angkor Wat in Cambodia
40,000 elephants participated in the building of the Angkor Wat complex
In a Tuk Tuk
A Tuk Tuk is a good way to get around in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We got a driver and tuk tuk for the day to visit the Angkor temples. The open air and associated breezes enhanced the experience of being there.
Trees growing into the temple
The workers at Angkor have a tough job keeping the jungle from taking back some of the temples.

UC Irvine Hall of Fame inductee

My Computer Science alma mater, UC Irvine, posted the inductees for their 50th anniversary celebration to their first Hall of Fame.

There were 20 inductees from Information and Computer Sciences.  I’m pretty excited to be among this group! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony since I was in India at the time — more on that in another post I’ll add soon. Photos and Bios of inductees are also posted online.  A video of the ceremony can be seen below.

If you are thinking of attending college and majoring in Computer Science, or considering obtaining a Masters or PhD in Computer Science, UC Irvine is an excellent choice.

Genealogy – predicting what ancestors looked like

Buried in an article about “A genomic entrepreneur plans to sell genetic workups for as little as $250” is perhaps an even more striking claim that “the [Human Longevity Inc, HLI] company is trying to show it can predict from genes exactly what people look like.”

While the project is not complete, and some might look at this futuristic capability as a way to make designer babies,  it excites me instead as an amateur genealogist.  I mean, how cool would it be to find out exactly what an ancestor or famous person from the past looked like by having just a small sample of DNA?  Could the technique eventually be extended to look back by using a number of samples of descendants today?  In other words, if you don’t have a DNA sample for the ancestor, could you use DNA samples from descendants in such a way as to predict closely what that ancestor must have looked like?  Want to know who that man is on the right in an old family photo?

Yes, I’m ignoring the obvious usage of this technology for forensics, mostly because it could be kind of spooky in this regard to know what someone looks like just from a DNA sample.  Talk about profiling.  This is the stuff of science fiction today, though J. Craig Venter says that HLI can already describe the color of your eyes [from your DNA] better than you can.

Will predicting looks from DNA be the next tool on one or more of the genealogy websites?  Who knows when that might happen, but if you are interested in this subject as I am, you might enjoy the Ted talk below.

By the way, in the next year I plan to release a new e-book collection of my published stories related to genetics.

Time travel can be confusing

The time travel television series “Continuum” starts its final season — just 6 episodes — on the SYFY channel (Friday, September 11, 2015.  Those of us who have enjoyed this time-hopping show are happy to have a final season to wrap up the plot, not to mention a few more episodes with this fun and talented cast.  If you need a refresher on what happened in previous seasons, you can take SYFY’s “Continuum 101”.

Not every viewer has enjoyed the trip through time.  Some have stopped watching the show, because they either were confused by some of the events, or often because it didn’t adhere to their political, philosophical, logical, or common sense point-of-view.  That can easily happen with any time travel story, because inherently it is difficult to imagine that time travel can even occur, let alone be understandable in any simple way.

But, for me, time travel stories go beyond mere logic.  After all, how can time travel be logical?  There is the multiverse, where changes to the timeline just create a new timeline, or nature may correct any changes to the timeline.  But these are just theories.  So when I think, write, read, or view time travel, my personal choice is to enjoy the ride.  If it becomes too uncomfortably silly, or crosses outside my believability meter, that may be the point I stop at.  However, I really enjoy time travel as a science fiction theme, so I tend to have a high tolerance for these things.  Maybe others do too, since “Continuum” has a 7.8 rating on IMDB.

Many time travel themes have been experimented with by the writers of “Continuum”, such as back in time, forward in time, time travel romance, betting with future knowledge, and causal loops — when a future event is the cause of an event in the past.  I’m surprised I haven’t seen time travel tourism yet, although maybe I just missed that.  I mean, wouldn’t it be fun just to go to some period in time and enjoy it for an hour or a day?  Mostly on “Continuum” the events appear to be pretty serious stuff, though the Matthew Kellog character has had a sense of humor about it at times.

If you find you enjoy time travel, like I do, you might also enjoy my best selling e-book anthology (“Science Fiction: Time Travel”) which contains four of my published short stories.



There’s Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Decopunk, Atompunk, Biopunk, Nanopunk, and Dreampunk.  Do you even know what all of these are about?  I admit, that I couldn’t define all of these.  Now, according to there’s also Solarpunk.

Like Solarpunk stories about attempts to live in harmony with the Earth or not, I am in favor of more science fiction that has a positive outlook on the future.  There’s plenty of scifi that does not.

Punk or not, Solarpunk or not, I like how science fiction attempts to paint a picture of the future.



Robot passports

MIT Technology Review recently reported on the need for “License Plates for Drones.”  The concept involves colored blinking lights which would help someone identify the drone on video or in the air based on the sequence of lights.  The may be a viable technique for drone identification, helping to determine responsibility in an event, but what about other kinds of robot devices?

Many have now written about the singularity, a time when robots are capable of making other robots and quickly exceeding the capabilities of mankind.  If robots were suddenly making other robots, how would we even know?  I mean, it’s hard enough to determine when other countries are manufacturing weapons underground.  Robots might be even more secretive.  And would you know that a new kind of robot is out there if you saw one?  It’s not like they come with license plates or passports.  Should they?

Should there be an online database of every kind of robot that has been made?  Without that, any robot can be squirming, flying, or walking around and we’ll have no idea whether they are a new kind of robot or not.

Are robots citizens of the country that they are made in or the country that owns them?  Are they citizens at all?  If so, then shouldn’t they carry passports like humans.  If not, shouldn’t they have a license plate or some other easy identification.

Granted, all this is speculative, but that’s why I’m a speculative writer.  I enjoy thinking about these kinds of things.  If you do to, you might enjoy reading my science fiction anthologies.

Robot Carrying Things clip art

Is Lucy dead on Extant?

Lucy is a humanoid robot (Humanics) soldier on the television series Extant.  I found it interesting that the programmers/developers of her mind thought it would not be possible for her to blackmail someone — see the video below.

This reminds me a bit of one of my short stories (“Like Mother, Like Son”) you can find in my anthology, “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs.”  It’s about a different kind of female humanoid robot with possibly a hidden agenda.

Quantum Biology

The term Quantum Biology was coined over 60 years ago, but only recently has it gained momentum.  I believe quantum biology science has the potential to change the understanding of the human brain and consciousness, since many AI researchers today believe they can produce an artificial brain through the construction of circuits and software — and some AI researchers think that consciousness is nothing more than an illusion.

Until utterly proven wrong, I still think that the theories behind quantum consciousness raised by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff are science’s best bet for understanding how consciousness works — or at least understanding where it originates from.  The Scientist recently reported on a new book, “The Coming Age of Quantum Biology: Life on the Edge“.  You can find the book on Amazon and read a bit of the beginning for free.  The book’s authors are discussed in a recent Discover Magazine article as well.

Apparently on Quantum Mind they don’t see Quantum Biology as a major support yet for the theories of Quantum Consciousness.  But maybe it is just a matter of time before biologists and physicists, as well as AI researchers, discover that they are all barking up the same tree — understanding consciousness.

Brain clip art

When will we see Microsoft Edge browser extensions?

According to a couple of different websites we won’t see Microsoft Edge browser extensions — for better security they’ll be HTML5, not Active-X add-ons — until sometime this autumn.  The other website says probably around October, which is still autumn by definition.

There have been a few articles lately claiming that Microsoft Edge is not doing that well with new Windows 10 users.  However, when you consider that it doesn’t yet support all the right-click options (extensions) that most users want, it’s easy to see why.  It will be interesting to see if the Edge browser sees a significant uptick in usage after extensions are released in hopefully autumn.

Personally, I look forward to having right-click translation and “map with” back.  I would also like to see grouped tabs in favorites added to Edge, as well as alphabetized favorites.  I don’t know if those are related to extensions, though, or whether we will see those added to Edge.

The Maritimes and vicinity – Wow!

I just got back from a vacation in The Maritime provinces of Canada, as well as Quebec, Maine, and a few neighboring states.  I highly recommend the Maritimes if you haven’t been!

We started in Bangor, ME on our way to the Bold Coast boat tour of Machias Seal Island where seals and puffins and other birds can be seen up close, especially if the weather is nice enough for a landing on this small island.

SealsNearMachiasSealIsland TowardsTheBlinds TwoWisePuffins

From there we made our way to New Brunswick, Canada, where we visited Hopewell Rocks, where ocean levels often range from 0 feet at low tide to over 40 feet at high tide.


You can fly over to Newfoundland, but we chose to sleep in a cabin on the night ferry to Port-aux-Basques, rising the next morning for our drive to amazing Gros Morne National park.  If you’re lucky you might spot a bear (Western Brook Pond, NL) or a moose (Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia), or even icebergs in late July as we did.  Fantastic waterfalls in the Maritimes and region are everywhere, such as Montmorency Falls near Quebec City.


I’m a writer, so I could easily go on and on about this trip.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our visits to France last year and Quebec and the Maritimes this year.  I’ve been thinking about making a small e-book series called “Two Week Drive: The Maritimes”, “Two Week Drive: France”, etc.

You can’t see everything in just two weeks, but the challenge and the excitement of that kind of vacation is choosing what can best be experienced and seen in that time frame.  For my wife and I, and another couple, it worked out great!


With earthquakes, warning time makes a difference

Wired magazine recently published an article entitled “A New Earthquake Early Warning System For Mexico City.”  In theory, residents could have up to 60 to 90 seconds of warning before a quake.  That’s enough time to leave a building or move to a safer place, potentially saving many lives.  But what happens when someone develops a system that might warn users of a quake hours or more before it happens?

It depends.  Would the system include the probability of the quake hitting within various ranges of time, such as what we find nowadays for hurricane predictions?  Would it present probabilities for cities that might be hit as well as the chance for various ranges of intensity?

This is not exactly the same as hurricane prediction data.  Hurricanes often come with predictions that are days ahead of making landfall.  There is usually time to evacuate, and often time to go far enough away to be out of the expected path.  But it’s hard to imagine a future where earthquakes can be predicted in that fashion, with notice days ahead and predictions good enough to give residents confidence.

My science fiction short story “Seismic Morality” examines a few of the issues with earthquake prediction in the future.  You can find it in my anthology “Science Fiction: Tragedies”.



Science is difficult

Recently, the famous little Philae comet lander re-made contact with satellite Rosetta.  After Philae landed and lost power, likely due to being in shade, it was hoped that Philae would regain power at some point.  So this is great news!

Unfortunately, Rosetta had to move further away from the comet due to interference from the comet’s increasing dust-particle trail.  So now it’s apparently more difficult for Philae to communicate its incredibly valuable scientific data to Rosetta — and then to Earth.

This is the kind of scientific tension and struggle of science fiction.  Whether on Earth or exploring the solar system, new technology sometimes achieves success for its inventors, but it is often accompanied by some kind of failure(s) along the way.   After a number of space launch successes, SpaceX recently lost a Dragon spacecraft in an explosion shortly after a launch for a space station resupply mission.

In my “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs” anthology, little robot Floccin has to deal with the inherent danger of new technology when he gets a software upgrade.

Comet In Space clip art


Is it possible that the future affects the past?

Second Nexus reports that recent physics experiments would seem to indicate that the future affects the past.  If so, that would be a form of time travel.

I love to write about time travel and ponder the implications.  Whether the form of time travel is through messaging into the past or future, suspended animation, wormholes, time machines, or some other quirks of physics, the paradoxes created are mind boggling as well as entertaining.  If you think so too, you might enjoy my “Science Fiction: Time Travel” anthology.

Time Travel E-book Cover

Author, Game Designer, Programmer, Tutor, Genealogist