2016… Looking Forward

It’s almost the middle of the year and so it feels like the perfect time to do a prospective post, of the type normal people would do in January. (Normal is given WAY too much credit). I’ve decided to try to be a bit more active on here, that way I can pretend I’m talking to others- rather than to myself, and what better way to start than with a ‘what’s coming this year’ post?

Please feel free to comment, and tell me what you’re planning for this year!

       1. Wrap up the Nova series…

I know! I cried too! I can hear you all yelling at me “But you’re the author, just don’t do it!”… but Nova (and I) need a break. It’s not her, it’s me. So with Prisoner released at the start of this year… and Stranger to be released in about 2 weeks, there’s just Book 10 left, appropriately titled: Hero. Of course there is shooting and running and Nova gets into more trouble than you’ve ever seen, but it will be the end, at least for the time being. I am of course leaving myself completely open to writing more in the future because I have a feeling Nova will be back…

(Of course if you have especially strong feelings you could always leave a review on your favourite vendor telling me how much you enjoy them 😉 and no… I feel no shame over begging for reviews).

      2. Publish a couple of other novels…

I don’t want to reveal too much but I do have a couple of other projects up my sleeve; one in conjunction with a fellow author and another standalone, temporarily titled ‘Alien Ant Farm‘. I’m sure I’ll do some follow up posts on those as they progress.

      3. Finish this PhD I’m doing…

Some of you may not know, but in my ‘real life’ I’m a scientist. I’m currently completing my PhD in chemistry – hoping to be done by the end of the year. After that, who knows! My current research has a sci-fi element (of course). I’m looking at whether life could evolve without water. So often when we think of alien life we think of two eyed, four/five limbed animals. The truth is that we’re more likely to find a sentient cloud of methane gas than a species that has managed to evolve along an identical pathway to us (but I’ll save that discussion for its own post I think!).

In the meantime, if you’re scientifically minded I do have a paper out that you might enjoy: http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C5SM02660A

      4. Turn this writing thing into a paying career…

I’ve been very lucky the last six months and I’ve made real progress on this, but I want to solidify it by the end of the year so that I’m free to focus on what I enjoy. And, it’s all thanks to you wonderful readers that that’s even possible. So thank you.

To finalise this prospective post, I think it’s only right that I leave you with a deep and meaningful quote:

“Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup”

 

 

 

A New Look…

I’ve decided to make a little better use of this blog space by you know… actually using it.

If you’d like to read any of my past posts, you can still find them here: http://saffron.blogcatapult.com

Remember to sign up to the mailing list if you want to hear about the really important stuff (like book releases), otherwise, please come here to read about whatever happens to be floating around my head!

 

Creating False Memories

Today in When Science Fiction Becomes Reality I’m talking about something a little scary…

Do you remember the movie Total Recall? Or the book it was based on: We Can Remember It for You Wholesale? … The premise was that artificial memories were inserted into people’s brains. And now, ladies and gentlemen, we can do it for real.

That’s right, scientists have implanted false memories into the brains of mice so that they have a negative, fearful response to an environment which is completely harmless.

 

The Experiment: On day 1 the mice were put into harmless Box A where they were free to run around and explore. On day 2 the mice were put into Box B where they were exposed to mild electric shocks. Using various chemicals and stimulation the scientists activated memory cells in the hippocampus. On day 3 the mice were placed back into Box A where they experienced extreme fear, including freezing and hiding in corners. When these same mice were put into a third, new environment: Box C, they were relaxed and unafraid.

While it may sound complicated what this experiment shows is that the mice have now formed a false association between the pain experienced in Box B and the environment of Box A. In reality they should have no reason to act fearful in Box A, but the false memories tell them there is.

You can read the article here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1239073

 

Limitations: Obviously this research is relatively new and it’s a long way off creating full life memories but it’s certainly a start. At this point the study is limited to eliciting only a fear response and the memory recall is based solely on our interpretation of the mice’s actions. This means there are many aspects that we can’t possible know; like what is the mouse actually recalling?


Medical Implications:
The medical implications of this technology has already been cited and primary amongst them is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By ‘editing’ a person’s memory it might be possible to remove these kinds of debilitating memories and allow people to live ‘normal’ lives. Similarly phobias could be addressed using this technology by falsely creating a positive association with the focus of the phobia.

 

Science Fiction: The concept of memory implantation has been covered by multiple science fiction novels and movies, the two I mentioned earlier are the obvious examples. This technology has many applications outside the medical arena:

Idea–       Brain washing: How better to control a population then to control people’s memories and thoughts? You could eradicate entire rebellions by ‘inserting’ positive memories of yourself into the upriser’s heads. On the other hand you could make people hate your enemy by inserting false negative memories as well.

–       Manipulation: Similar to brain-washing but how to make that special someone fall for you? Simply insert some romantic memories. Perhaps you even saved their life once?

–       Torture: By controlling the very thoughts a person has a potential abuser could torture a victim not just physically but mentally as well.

–       Training: Rehabilitating repeat offenders could involve ‘editing’ a person’s memories and therefore their behaviour. Associate an unwanted behaviour with a bad memory and the person is unlikely to perform the behaviour again.

 

This research definitely sits on the very edge of scientific boundaries well as ethical boundaries. How far is too far? When does medication become manipulation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ethical implications as well as how this technology could be used in today’s science fiction, let me know in the comments section below.

Survivor – Release

SurvivorIt’s been a while in the making but finally Survivor is here.

Survivor is book one in The Nova Chronicles and is a gritty sci-fi adventure. It could be described as “Tomb Raider in Space”.

When everyone runs, who will stand?

Nova is a new recruit to the Jagged Maw: an elite bounty hunter guild.

During a routine collection, she finds herself dragged into the middle of an alien uprising.

The Ancients, merciless beings set on reclaiming the universe, have only one person left to stop them: Nova.

She must battle the Ancients, time, and her sanity, in order to stop the annihilation of the human race.

Fear the hero who has nothing left to lose.

For a limited time you can buy Survivor for just $0.99, OR you can sign up to become a Bounty Hunter and get it for free!

Coming Soon…

SurvivorThe release you’ve been waiting for…

Book 1 of the Nova Chronicles isn’t far away. If you’d like to join the adventures of a butt-kicking, future-living bounty hunter be sure to sign up for the mailing list >>>

You’ll receive a free copy as soon as it’s released.

For a bit of a taste-test check out this short story: Steel Gods of the Arena.

 

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