Inspiration: Olympus Mons and Arizona

Olympus Mons and Arizona Our inspiration this week is the long-dead volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons. As you can see in the accompanying image, the mountain is literally as big as the entire state of Arizona.

It has a height of 13.6 miles (or 22 kilometers or 72,000 feet, take your pick). In short, it’s two-and-a-half times the height of Mount Everest above sea level. Olympus Mons is the largest known volcano in the solar system. As a shield volcano, built up from successive basaltic flows, it’s much like the Hawaiian volcanoes, but on a much larger scale.

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Monday Mashup: Little Fuzzy

Little Fuzzy - by H. Beam PiperToday’s mashup is going to be a little different. The image is the excellent cover of the book, Little Fuzzy, by H. Beam Piper (the Kindle edition appears to be free). The cover is from a 1970’s reissue of the book; it was originally published in 1962. The illustration is by renowned cover artist Michael Whelan.

Why is this a mashup?

Well, the character is Jack Holloway, a prospector on a Class III frontier planet called Zarathustra. The planet is essentially “owned” by the Zarathustra Corporation, which was created to exploit the planet. The story thus has the general feel of a western, albeit technically updated in plausible ways.

But note the furry little critters in the image. They’re fuzzies, a new mammalian species that’s migrating into Jack’s prospecting territory due to an ecological catastrophe caused by the Zarathustra Corporation. Jack comes to believe that the fuzzies are sapient, i.e. – as intelligent and self-aware as humans. If he’s right, it means that the Zarathustra Corporation may lose its exclusive charter to the planet.

Now we’ve got a thrilling David/Goliath showdown, with ecological overtones, combined with a first contact scenario.

But the whole story is going to hinge on a ground-breaking court case…which means that it also becomes a legal drama.

Now that’s what I call a serious mashup. Check out the book. It’s excellent fun, although you’ll have to ignore a few things that date it a little bit (cigarette smoking, the clumsy way the characters use view screens for communication, etc.).

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Monday Mashup: Buzz Lightyear Enters the Grid

Buzz Lightyear Enter the Grid from TronWhat could be better than Buzz Lightyear, of Toy Story fame, entering the Tron universe?

Heck, it’s even possible. Disney owns Pixar, which created the Toy Story movies, and Disney itself created the two Tron movies.

This is one mashup that I’d certainly go see…

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Monday Mashup: Godzilla vs. Titanic

Godzilla vs. Titanic

OK, yes, I know, it’s probably not politically correct. But it was a long time ago. This picture purports to show the true cause behind the sinking of the Titanic way back in 1912. Clearly, the tragedy resulted from a collision between the Titanic and Godzilla.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Potbelly Sandwich Shop I’m at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop, where I’ve ordered a salad for myself, a sandwich for my wife and a few accessories. I get up to the cash register, they ring up my order and I reach into my back for my wallet…which isn’t there.

I apologize, make my excuses and head out to the car to see if I’ve left it there.

Nope. I head back in and tell the cashier to just set my order to the side. I’ll run home and get my wallet.

A tall man with salt and pepper hair is standing near the cash register, waiting for part of his own order to be completed. He says, “You forgot your wallet?”

“Yeah.” I’m shaking my head, because I’m still annoyed with myself. “I’m just gonna go home and get it.”

“Ah, don’t do that. How big’s your order?”

“Just lunch for me and my wife,” I say.

He grimaces and then gives a shrug. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll just pick it up for you. I’ve been in this situation before, myself.”

“Thanks. Uh, if you give me your name and number, I can pay you back…”

He waves me off. “Don’t worry about it. Just pay it forward.”

He calls out to the cashier. “I’ll pay for this guy’s order.”

The cashier looks over at us. “The order’s already paid for.” He points past us at a slim, red-haired lady who’d been behind me in line. Without saying anything to us, she’s walking out of the shop. “She’s already paid for it.”

I ended up getting my lunch for free because of the kindness of strangers.

Sometimes it’s easy to be down on humanity, thinking that people are stupid, ignorant, callous, easily fooled, etc. Pick your particular gripe at any given moment. But really, most folks are just regular, decent people. And sometimes it’s really nice to be reminded of that.

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Unbearable Cuteness

This little bundle of cuteness is Bentley, at the age of about six weeks. In this photo, he’s about ten pounds, although he eventually ended being about 130 pounds. Gotta love Lab Rottweilers.

Bentley in the Kitchen

OK, I know this has nothing to do with science fiction, but…well…who doesn’t like the unbearable cuteness of a puppy?

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Inspiration: Dandelion Dreams

Dandelion Dreams

I just love this picture. Hope you do, too.

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Inspiration: Prague, the Charles Bridge, Fog

Prague, the Charles Bridge in the Fog

This is a real photo of the Charles Bridge in Prague, in the fog. I think it’s a beautiful photo and potentially a great fantasy book cover for someone.

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Inspiration: You Are Here

From Mars, You Are Here

If you’ve ever wondered what Earth looks like to someone standing on the surface of Mars, well, now you know. In this NASA-supplied picture from the surface Mars, Earth is visible as just a bright object in the sky. In other words…you are here.

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Inspiration: Galloping Crocodiles

Galloping Crocodile

Oh, yeah. I gotta use this in a story. Modern crocodiles and alligators are edge feeders. They wait in the water and strike from ambush when prey comes to the water’s edge. They’re dangerous but relatively localized. These crocs, though, they can chase you down.

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