NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

THE FUTURE COMING AT US – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND YOU.

Recently, I did a presentation on Artificial Intelligence and the future of writing for the Manitoba Writers Guild. It was based somewhat on a presentation I did last year for the North American Science Fiction Convention held in Winnipeg.

I think it was a good presentation, running over two hours, and amounting to an intense discussion of what AI was, the current issues and problems, and where and how it was likely to affect Writers.

Anyway, the Manitoba Writer’s Guild recorded it for Zoom, and since the Zoom was made available, my friend, Dean Naday, producer and partner for The Attick edited a half hour summary. I think he did a great job.

The discussions around Artificial Intelligence are huge, we’re barely even beginning to grasp the right questions to ask, even while it all runs away on us. It may literally change every aspect of our lives. The potential is undefined, and at its widest scope, terrifying.

Artificial Intelligence and Writers, how it affects us, how it affects our livelihood and our hopes for our craft is a small part of the story. Hopefully, I’ve done it justice and not gotten too many things wrong. I suspect that the future is coming at us very fast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec90tgllb0w

MOVIE REVIEW: THE BEEKEEPER GETS HIS BUZZ ON

Sorry about the title. I couldn’t help myself. Oddly, when I went to see it on a Wednesday evening after a few weeks running, the theatre was unexpectedly full, so it does seem to have a buzz.

Anyway, I walked into the beekeeper and expected it to be silly violent trash. And it was! Don’t get me wrong about that. Totally silly violent trash. Met all expectations in that regard.

But here’s the interesting thing.

It was actually about something. Not bees, that’s the excuse for a lot of silly puns.

There was stuff going on, thinking-type stuff: The central idea of the beekeeper, is that we’re all prey. That all of are literally at the mercy of predators looking to strip us bare, and that the people and agency we are actually relying on to protect us either aren’t doing it, can’t be bothered, or are actually in on it.

There are actually ideas here.

And a lot of violence. Crazy amounts of violence.

But yeah, dig down, there’s an idea powering all that violent energy, like a nuclear reactor with a pile of sweaty men on top of it.

The opening is all about this nice little old retired lady. She gets a pop up on her computer, it’s a phishing expedition, and before you know it, scammers strip mine her entire life savings. She’s us. She’s all of us. She’s everyone.

Most of us own a computer, a lap top, a smart phone or something, The one thing we all have in common is phishing attempts. Scammers trying to get through at us. Count them up. I’m probably getting a thousand phishing attempts a year, maybe ten thousand, on my phone, in my emails, sent to me through social media. I can’t go on facebook without fighting my way through a cloud of paid advertisers most of them running scams. We’re literally walking around in a blizzard of this stuff.

And you know what? You’re screwed. You hear about giant corporations, law firms, businesses of all kinds getting hit with scams and hackers. They have IT departments, they have teams of professionals up on the latest hijinx, and they get hit all the time.

Well, you don’t have an IT department. At best, you’re an average shlub wandering around, with a bunch of electronics we use but barely understand, in the middle of all this. We’re roadkill. Odds are, sooner or later, at some point in your life. You’re going to get hit, and hopefully you’ll be lucky. But none of us are safe.

And there’s no law enforcement to speak of. There’s no protection. If you get your credit card scammed, your bank account lifted, if you get held ransom by malware… no one is going to do anything. Not the police, not the NSA or CIA. You’re on your own, buddy. Outnumbered, outgunned, outthought, getting hit on a thousand or ten thousand times a year, year after year. And no matter how smart you are, you only have to make a mistake once, and they’re in.

This is what the beekeeper is all about. It’s about the fact that it’s wall to wall predators out there, people ready to strip you of your life savings, always prying and pushing, always waiting for you to make that mistake, and you’re… Alone. You’re prey.

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Maybe it’s time for America to change horses in the Middle East

What I’m going to say is going to come as close to blasphemy as we can get in this secular age, and it’s going to provoke an immediate and visceral reaction. Well, hear me out anyway.

Maybe it’s time for America to switch sides in the middle-east and back Iran. Let’s just partner up, take Iran as our strategic representative and local hegemon in the region.

Yep. I can hear the heads exploding all over America.

I mean, the US is a steadfast ally of Israel and Saudi Arabia, and Iran is clearly the worst country that ever existed.  But let’s examine this a little more carefully.

“But, but, but the hostage crisis…” Yep, that was back in 1979, forty-five years ago.

“But Iran is a THEOCRACY!!!” So is Saudi Arabia for all intents and purposes, with the added advantages of being a corrupt feudal monarchy. There’s not a lot to choose from in the middle east: Feudal monarchic dictatorships, basket cases, incredibly dysfunctional societies.

“Their human rights record!” Terrible. As is the human rights records of all the countries we support in the middle east, Israel included. And looking at the big picture, the political realities have lead to the US supporting or tolerating some read hose-bags around the world.

“But they’re our sworn enemies!” Yep. We have a lot of enemies and challengers. Russia, China are both much bigger and more dangerous than Iran. Everyone from Europe, to Brazil, to India and Indonesia is a competitor on some level. Hell, Pakistan is nominally in our corner, sometimes, and it’s a giant pain in the ass that sheltered Osama Bin Laden.

So let me make the case. I’ve got nothing against Israel, I’m not saying ditch Israel. We keep Israel as an ally. We ditch Saudi Arabia, which is a feudal basket case, and is likely to keep getting worse.

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A New Interview – Shameless Self Promotion

This is an interview I didn for Bill Hillman’s ERBZINE – the largest Edgar Rice Burroughs fansite in the world, covering Tarzan, Mars, Venus, the Inner Earth, the Land that Time Forgot and many more.  Bill, as it turns out is practically a neighbor, living only a couple of hundred miles away.

I grew up with the pulps, reading Tarzan, John Carter, Conan, but also Lovecraft, Asimov, Clark, Heinlein and many more, and I found different things to love about each of them.  This interview talked about my growing experiences with Burroughs and his exotic worlds, particularly Barsoom, the strange turns I took as a writer and explores my career from that perspective.  Anyway, check it out.

PART ONE

ERBzine 7856: Valdron Interview

PART TWO

ERBzine 7857: 2 Valdron Interview Part II

PART THREE

ERBzine 7858: 3 Valdron Interview Part III

ERBZINE ARTICLES

ERBzine 1402: The Fantasy Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs by Den Valdron

TORAKOR OF MARS

ERBzine 1580: Torakar of Mars Intro & Contents by Den Valdron

Thoughts on this Writing Business

Recently, I came across a year end wrap up by Ron Vital, a writer. Basically, he’s been working at this writing thing pretty hard core. And he’s been doing annual wrap ups, providing detailed breakdowns in terms of his expenses, his sales, his sales breakdowns and his marketing and promotional efforts going back six or seven years.

In some ways, we’re pretty similar. We’ve both been self publishing for about the same length of time. We’ve both kind of had this lead time of the first few years not making very much. We’ve both moved up dramatically in sales in the last few years. We both write and publish a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. We both have a lot of books.

Where Ron differs from me is that he’s much more meticulous about keeping track of what he’s spending and how, what he’s trying, where the money is going, and whether it produces a return. He’s also deliberately investing more and heavily into selling his books.

Now for me, I pretty much do no marketing at all. No bookbub, no book funnel, no amazon ads, facebook ads, no newsletter, etc. etc Certainly not in the methodical and meticulous way that he does it.

So here are the awkwards. He is heavy duty working at marketing, to the point where for most years he went heavily into the red. His last two years, he netted a profit of about $25 and then $500 (mostly by reducing expenses).

But we made about the same amount of money in terms of gross sales and revenue. Actually, I think I’ve consistently done better. Not necessarily by huge gigantic increments. But in terms of grosses, I think I’m about $500 to $1000 ahead.

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SUNDAY BOOK LAUNCH – THE TOLTEC CONQUESTS

Sunday, November 19, 2023, from 2:00 to 3:30 pm

4th Floor, Artspace Building, 100 Arthur Street, Winnipeg

BOOK LAUNCH – THE TOLTEC CONQUESTS by RJ Hore

TOLTEC DAWN, TOLTEC KHAN and TOLTEC NOON

Sponsored by Fossil Cove Publishing and the Manitoba Writers Guild

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A Pirate’s History of Doctor Who

July, 2022.  Oh man, do I just suck at marketing and self promotion?  Apparently yes.  Here’s a book that is so absolutely brilliant, so amazing, so revelatory and groundbreaking that it turned into a trilogy all by itself.

So what do we have in the first volume, the early years?

  • Well, now that Jody Whittaker is out of the way, we can give proper credit to Barbara Benedetti, the first woman to play the Doctor, through a series of four, unlicensed half hour adventures in the 80s.  Back when Doctor Who was at its lowest point, with the trial of a time lord, the attempted cancellation, the disastrous first McCoy season, there was Barbara, effortlessly hitting it out of the park.  Go ahead, compare Mindwarp and Time of the Rani to the Wrath of Eukor and Visions of Utomu. I dare ya.
  • The early Super8 film years of fandom and fan films, including a bunch of lost gems, and featuring the Image Makers, Ocean in the Sky and Mission of Doom
  • The early video wave, including the gothic Troughton/Davison crossover Spectre from the Past;
  • The recreation of Tom Baker’s Sontaran Experiment… with Cybermen

* The Reign of Turner and the odyssey of the Federation

  • Vaulkherd, Rutan and The Alliance, the stories of Sharon Horton, the second woman to play the Doctor

*

The Reign of Timebase and the Rupert Booth Doctor, the true Doctor of the 90s, with 12 episodes comprising five stories, plus three shorts

Review – Regenesis

Review – Phase Four

Review – Paradise in Chains

Review – Long Shadows

Review – The Hidden Face

 

Finally, reviews of great overlooked films Resurrenction of Evil,  The Chronotron Effect,  Dealers of Death and Time and Again

Another Pirate’s History of Doctor Who

August, 2022 – Here’s me forgetting to do self promotion.  But featuring….

  • The Complete History of Doctor Who stage plays, including
    • Curse of the Daleks
    • Seven Keys to Doomsday
    • The Ultimate Adventure starring Colin Baker AND Jon Pertwee
    • The Karnak Trilogy
    • Empress of Otherwhen
    • The Bedlam plays – from Planet of Fire to the Dalek Masterplan
    • The Three Trials of Davros
  • The Power of the Daleks, Reimagined
  • Millennium Trap
  • Recreating Masters of Luxor
  • The thirty year Odyssey of Devious
  • The Reconstruction of Marco Polo
  • The Strange Tangle of Copyright Confusion
    • Explaining the lost episodes
    • LEGAL fan films
    • Colin Baker’s The Stranger Series
    • Sylvester McCoy in Do You Have a License to Save this Planet
    • The Brigadier and Sarah Jane facing off the Great Intelligence and the Yeti in Downtime
    • Sontarans and Rutans confronting familiar faces in Shakedown
    • The Auton Trilogy, Zygon, Sil and the Devil Seeds

Holy cow! There’s amazingly good stuff in here. I mean, for a Doctor Who fan, this is all flat out terrific.  I can’t believe I’m the one who wrote it.