Tag: Westworld (page 1 of 2)

Westworld, OA, Sense8– 2016 shows exploring the world of the mind. Plus Timeless

2016 was a year of intriguing television. I recently binged two shows and was enthralled by two others, week by week, so here are some thoughts.

Westworld blew me away. The pilot was one of the most brilliantly written episodes of TV I’ve ever seen. So much was introduced so well. Like the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, it took an old, intriguing idea and breath fresh story into it (ps, writers: there are no truly new ideas, at least until AI starts writing stories). My wife and I actually bonded over Julian Jaynes The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, so when the words “bicameral mind” were actually spoken on the show we were like “OMG!”

Science fiction has always touched on the possible. One of my tenets is if we can think of it, it will eventually occur. Artificial intelligence is growing by leaps and bounds. Scifi books and films have explored it in numerous ways. Westworld, like the latest BSG, brings up the fundamental question of whether we can make AI that’s not only smarter than us, but better than us?

As an aside, consider this– if time travel is ever invented, then it exists now. Of course, I know that, because I’m one of the travelers. I’m trying to get the world ready for us to come out of the closet eventually. You all are not quite there yet. More on time travel with another show below.

Who and what is real? That lies at the heart of Westworld. Since so many of my books explore the mind, I admit I’m prejudiced. What was really cool was having Fifth Floor come out in the midst of that, as writing that book blew my mind, moving from reality to reality, POV to POV, and from present to past tense voice.

I recently binged OA and Sense8. There were some good ideas at the heart of each.

The OA was intriguing at first, a bit slow in the middle and the ending; well. Hmm. I get what they were trying to do, but the problem is, given what they did with point of view, I don’t think it worked. It was one of those out of nowhere moments that had nothing to do with everything the story had been working up to. The end actually had little do with the engaging premise of the story which was a scientist experimenting on people who’d died and come back.

I also binged season 1 of Sense8 on Netflix. I have mixed feelings about it. Overall, I like it. The premise is intriguing, about eight people who form a group that are linked subconsciously and more and more consciously. Nowhere near as good as Westworld, it held eight good storylines that were woven pretty well. The “rules” seems to be somewhat arbitrary, but hey, I write time travel where it consists “he wasn’t there, he was there” so I’ve got no room to talk. Be warned, or intrigued, a lot of sort of sex of all sorts. Hmm. That’s an interesting line. A plus is its a ‘feel good’ show, with displays of unconditional love; I felt some of the strongest points were those on the outside of the ‘cluster’ who loved someone on the inside.

Another science fiction show which was better than it appeared to me during runup was Timeless. It’s holding a secret– who are the true bad guys– that makes it difficult to keep up week after week. It is slowly developing the Rittenouse concept, so that’s something that’s being addressed.

They do some interesting things that often are overlooked in this genre and subject. One is the issue of race in time travel. I’ve run into that problem when assigning missions in each Time Patrol book. I had to send an agent back to 15 March 1783, to Washington’s cantonment in Newburgh where he stopped a coup; the agent best suited for that was Eagle; except he’s African-American, which really limits things. But that actually got me thinking and the mission turned out to be something that very much had to do with his race. (PS, you can read that entire mission for free here). In Timeless, Rufus encounters different reactions to his race, depending on time and place traveled.

Really interesting is the fact that history actually does change during their missions, starting from the pilot which featured the Hindenburg. Which, of course, changes their present somewhat. That adds both a historical and personal angle. One minor complaint I have is the Delta Force guy they have, Logan, can’t fight worth a crap for someone who’s Special Ops. But then again, I have a black belt and usually end up hurting myself more than the heavy bag.

Westworld will be back next year. Timeless just got greenlit for 6 more episodes. Sense8 has a two hour season 2 special, so there will be another season of that.

Your thoughts? Other science fiction shows I missed? I know my wife is watching Travelers and I need to get up to speed on that.


Staring at Goats, Reading Minds, and being a Jedi Warrior

men-who-stare-at-goats PSYCHIC WARRIOR

Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, when it was the best of times and the worst of times, we ran a program in 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) that was originally titled Jedi Warrior. It was designed to improve the individual soldier. After all, we focus so much on gear and guns and bombs, but it’s still the boots on the ground in the end. More importantly, the people wearing those boots.

Sp two A-Teams were chosen to go through all this training. Lots of mind-body stuff, meditation, diet, martial arts, controlling heartbeat and body temperature, etc.

Years later, I was called by Steven Seagal, now a Russian apparently. He wanted to write a book using his time working with the CIA. Now I don’t know whether he actually did or didn’t. He did mention Grill Flame which was a program I knew about from something else I was involved in, which I can’t go into. It was the CIA’s remote viewing program. Reconnaissance by mind.

By now I was an author and I started thinking– my mind is a dark and dangerous place and enter only at your peril.

I combined Jedi Warrior with Grill Flame and thought: what if we could send our essence into the virtual plane of existence and then reconstitute it as a physical avatar on the real plane at a distance?

So I wrote Psychic Warrior

And I’m watching you. From a distance.

Nothing but good times ahead!

“We cannot be conscious of what we are not conscious of.” The Fifth Floor

fifth-floorWhat is reality? What is consciousness? What have we developed from? And, more importantly, what are we evolving into?

These are at the core of The Fifth Floor, my latest release. The story of Lara, who is told she is sixteen, from Wichita, Kansas, and she’s killed her family with a butcher knife.

She doesn’t think so.

As her mind and sometimes her body, go from various realities and timelines, she can’t figure out what is real and what isn’t. Where does she come from?

And then there is Lukas, a boy her age who walks into a crowded marketplace in Israel, a bomb strapped around his body, but instead of detonating it, he sits down and announces he’s hungry.  Why is here? What is he looking for?

CGApprovedIf you’ve been watching Westworld, you’re seeing an example of what is in this book. The search for what is true consciousness. What does it mean to be human?

In a departure from my normal style of writing, The Fifth Floor mixes points of view, voice and time. I hope you enjoy!

Nothing but good times ahead!

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