Windows into the Imagination

Monday, April 6, 2015

MIT and Harvard Scientists May Have Accidentally Created a Real-life Light Saber

Imagine whipping out your trusty light saber, flicking a switch and it becomes a gleaming blade of deadly light to strike down your foes. It only happens in the movies, or does it?

Normally, photons, the massless particles which make up light, pass through each other rather than reacting. Not a particularly effective weapon. At best, a spectacular light show.

But what if light beams push against each other, deflect each other? Then we have a functional light saber.

Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin reports, "What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules...When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflecting each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies." 1

Researchers filled a vacuum chamber with rubidium atoms, then, using lasers, cooled the cloud to just a few degrees above absolute zero. Using weak laser pulses, they fired single photons into the chamber.

Inside the frigid cloud, the photons slow dramatically as its energy is handed off from atom to atom, eventually re-emerging from the cloud with the intact photon.

It's the same effect that is seen when light passes through glass or water. When it enters the refractive material, it hands off part of its energy to the medium it is passing through and inside it exists as mass and energy coupled together. When it exits, it is still light. The same is happening here with the photons, except on a more extreme scale.

This discovery may one day be used to build the first quantum computer...or light sabers? Who said science isn't fun?

1  'Seeing light in a new way': Peter Reuell, Harvard Gazette, Sept 27, 2013,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

An Excerpt from 'The Empire' for Teaser Tuesdays (SFR Group on FB)

A man entered through double doors, standing almost in pose as they closed silently behind him. His sharp gray eyes scanned the room in a split second as he sauntered over to the bar. Tamara paused as she brought her glass to her lips.
Someone interesting, fun and with an edge of danger, just what the doctor ordered for a dreary evening. She wet her lips and took a deep drink that slid down with fingers of warmth.
The man was simply dressed in a dark blue mandarin collared jacket and dark gray trousers. It was a subdued expression of elegance and wealth. He ordered a drink, a clear martini without the frills, and with a polite nod in her direction, sat down nearby.
“I haven’t seen you here before,” Boudreaux remarked casually.
He smiled and turned towards her. If her heart were one degree warmer, she would have melted easily under that glow, but instead it filled her with apprehension. This was the kind of man who was used to getting what he wanted, without seeming to work for it.
“You haven’t.” His voice was smooth as silk sliding across the most sensitive parts of her body, and his fingers played lightly around the wide lip of the glass. The sensuality of it sent shivers down Boudreaux’s spine. Her eyes narrowed. She was not used to being manipulated, and she recognized a master.
“You’re very full of yourself, aren’t you?” A little rudeness in unexpected company was useful.
He chuckled; the sound was like music and his eyes fixed hers with sudden intensity. “Professor Boudreaux, if you play with me, it will be fun, but I doubt if you will like the results.”
His body remained relaxed and his expression was one of amusement. The fingers continued their seductive tracing of the glass.
“Do you have to do that?” she asked with irritation.
The fingers stopped and his head tilted slightly as he regarded her. “Does it bother you?”
Boudreaux’s quick mind measured his response and his manner. Her voice became seductive and flattering, a queen going into battle. “Why do I have the feeling you knew it would?”
“Are you always this paranoid with strangers?” His eyes twinkled and he never lost the light, agreeable air.
“Only manipulative ones.” Boudreaux put her glass down, her insides warming with the heat of battle. This man did not have the delicious vulnerability of Adrian. He was a different sort of morsel and just as intelligent; and there was a knife-edge that fascinated her.
“Your colors are showing,” he said casually, as he brought the martini up and rolled the thin stem between his fingers. Boudreaux’s face was distorted on the clear surface.
The Professor’s teeth clenched in a tight smile as she suppressed a shudder of discomfort and excitement. It felt as if he had just stripped her bare and those sensuous fingers that so expertly ringed the glass, were poised to touch her. Her spinning head was giving her visions of throwing him over the table. She shook her head and answered his challenge. “And so are yours.”
     “Ah. But I wanted you to see mine.”

Monday, June 30, 2014

Get to Know the Authors Blog Hop

Thanks to Annette Bower for passing on the torch for the Get to Know the Author blog hop.

I've been writing professionally for about four years now. It's been a fun and rewarding ride that I don't plan to end any time soon.

My first forays into writing was when I was a youngster, not quite high school age. I started on two stories, one fantasy and one an action-adventure.

The fantasy story is where I get my online handle 'Kalinda.'

1) What am I working on?

I'm currently working on four projects, two actively: 'The Andromedans' which is book three of the Empire Series and is due out at the end of the year, Mrs. Beeston, my sci-fi/fantasy/humour epic, and untypically for me, two short stories, an eerie YA/sci-fi piece, 'The Tunnel' about a young girl who finds herself in the creepiest circumstances and 'The Piece' which is about music and a young man who cannot let it go.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Mine is not the typical sci-fi fare and yet it has many trappings of it. It certainly is set in the future and has a lot of future science as well as society surrounding it, but for my stories sci-fi is the backdrop to stories about the human condition. No matter how far flung into the future my stories are or how we have evolved or devolved, they are still character-driven tales about people who happen to live in the future or in future circumstances.

3) Why do I write what I do?

While I read a wide range of genres, my first loves are sci-fi, fantasy and mystery fiction so it's not surprising that is what I tend to write.

Why do I like them? Perhaps it's because I like to explore different aspects of our modern world as they would be if we continued the way we are or if we changed even one aspect of it. It's all the 'what ifs' which fascinate me, building a better world or avoiding a disastrous one.

4) How does my writing process work?

For me, the characters come first. In each of my tales, there is a person or being who represents the heart of the story, who is the emotional core. Until I have that, it's almost impossible to write without feeling like I'm pulling teeth, my own. Once I understand the heart, the reason for writing the story, then words fly onto the page and it's hard to stop. It becomes a labour of love.

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, I could only find two authors who will pick up the torch on July 7, 2014.

Ta da!

Mysti Parker

Mysti Parker is a wife, mother, and shameless chocoholic. She has published

three fantasy romance novels and several flash fiction stories. Currently,

she’s writing her first historical romance and has two children's books in the

hands of a hard-working agent.

Bree Donovan

Bree Donovan has been a South Jersey resident for most of her life, yet her fiction transports her readers to far away mystical places where otherworldly beings mingle with humans as part of the regular course of things.

She published her first book in 2008. Steve Prefontaine Rocketman is the biography of legendary runner and Olympian, Steve (Pre) Prefontaine. Bree worked with Steve’s sister Linda, his closets friends and fans in an effort to bring his inspirational story to young readers. To date, the book royalties have raised close to $5,000 for Steve Prefontaine’s former Coos Bay, Oregon, Elementary school to restore arts and physical education programs.

Bree’s Magic Realism novel, Blackthorns of the Forgotten was published in 2012 by IFWG Publishing. It is in this novel that angels, collide with demons, humans make bargains with the devil, but also learn about the true nature of love, and redemption. Ireland serves as the beautiful and mysterious backdrop to the book’s ethereal events.

Over the years, many of Bree’s short stories have been published for various blogs, websites, and Internet magazines. She even had three of her stories translated into German and published for German anthologies. She is currently working on completing her Masters in the MALS program at Rutgers University, Camden. Her latest writing effort is of non-fiction-her Capstone. Bree’s focus of study is, Equine and Hippotherapy, as her greatest passion is working and helping animals & humans.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Book Review: Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Title: Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editor: Michael Knost
Page Count: 210 pages
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Published: April 18th, 2013
Publisher: Seventh Star Press

What if you could ask Neil Gaiman where he gets his ideas from? What if Orson Scott Card gave you his insights on developing voice and style? Imagine picking Elizabeth Bear's brain on the joys and intricacies of world building?

"The only thing an author can always depend upon is craft. Craft doesn't always enable the author to scale mountains. That depends on the author's talent and inspiration and dedication. But craft is like the mountaineer's tools and experience. They help when the going gets tough."
James Gunn

The Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is full of entertaining and informative short essays by some of the most respected writers in the genres.

The difficulty with books of this kind is that it can be a retread of other writing guides that do it in more detail, but this one, while it does present some material you've probably read before, skirts the problem by being something much more.

Sometimes it's good for writers to understand the genres they are writing for, and how it got there. Sometimes reinventing the wheel isn't necessary, and sometimes, maybe it is.

Starting with the inception of the idea with Neil Gaiman's essay 'Where Do You Get Your Ideas?' through to the tough middle and the endings, authors have their own ways of dealing with each area, but reading how successful authors do it is instructive and their voices of experience shines through each workshop. These writers love their craft and it shows whether they are writing their next novel or sharing their most important lessons about being a writer that people will want to read.

Middles that justify the openings and earn the endings are the hardest to develop.
George Zebrowski

Particularly good are the ones on 'Middles' by George Zebrowski, 'On Rhetoric and Style' by Orson Scott Card and a thought-provoking one on 'Unbending Gender' by Nisi Shawl that includes a link to a fun and gorgeously detailed chart on the pathways to stereotyped female characters.

This book is the collected wisdom of those who not only have been there, but have done it amazingly well. Each essay is chock full of experience, examples and anecdotes that reminds us why we love these writers. 
It's not only a writers' guide, it's a fans' guide into the minds of our favourite authors.

Entertaining, illuminating and challenging, this book is for readers and writers alike. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A good, instinctive style that is a pleasure to read cannot be taught or learned directly. 
Is there nothing you can do, then to enhance your own style, to improve it? Why, of course there is! But, paradoxically, you don't do it by working on your style.
Orson Scott Card

Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a collection of essays and interviews by and with many of the movers-and-shakers in the industry. Each contributor covers the specific element of craft he or she excels in. Expect to find varying perspectives and viewpoints, which is why you many find differing opinions on any particular subject.

This is, after all, a collection of advice from professional storytellers. And no two writers have made it to the stage via the same journey-each has made his or her own path to success. And that's one of the strengths of this book. The reader is afforded the luxury of discovering various approaches and then is allowed to choose what works best for him or her.

Featuring essays and interviews with:
Neil Gaiman
Orson Scott Card
Ursula K. Le Guin
Alan Dean Foster
James Gunn
Tim Powers
Harry Turtledove
Larry Niven
Joe Haldeman
Kevin J. Anderson
Elizabeth Bear
Jay Lake
Nancy Kress
George Zebrowski
Pamela Sargent
Mike Resnick
Ellen Datlow
James Patrick Kelly
Jo Fletcher
Stanley Schmidt
Gordon Van Gelder
Lou Anders
Peter Crowther
Ann VanderMeer
John Joseph Adams
Nick Mamatas
Lucy A. Snyder
Alethea Kontis
Nisi Shawl
Jude-Marie Green
Nayad A. Monroe
G. Cameron Fuller
Jackie Gamber
Amanda DeBord
Max Miller
Jason Sizemore

This edition also includes several full page illustrations from award-winning artists Matthew Perry and Bonnie Wasson.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A. F. Stewart's Blog: Book Review: The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang

A. F. Stewart's Blog: Book Review: The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang: My Book Review of The Rebels :   The novel The Rebels , the sequel to The Empire , is as engrossing as the first book in the series. T...